Ever since The Haunted Palace in 1963 – ostensibly a part of Roger Corman and Vincent Price’s franchise of Edgar Allan Poe pictures but actually a stealth adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward – filmmakers have been trying to adapt the works of noted racist and godfather of cosmic horror, Howard Phillips Lovecraft to the big and small screens, with varying degrees of success. Not all of the films we’ve assembled for you here are direct adaptations of the Old Gent’s tales, but all of them at least gesture in that direction – or so our team members seemed to think. Try watching them, and judge for yourself… assuming you keep your sanity.
– Orrin Grey, Skeleton
Mentioning this one in this category is a bit of an unavoidable spoiler, but I think a worthwhile one. I know I had zero interest in it when I saw the trailers, and expected a bog-standard undersea creature feature. When I found out it was tied to Cthulhu, I had to check it out and I’m glad I did! It’s a whole lot of fun to try and spot the potentially Lovecraftian winks and nods, which you might not realize are there if you don’t know what the movie’s about. Also Kristen Stewart is fantastic in it.
Selected by Rob Lich (Rob Rich)
Die, Monster, Die! (1965)
The first of many film versions of Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” Die, Monster, Die! is only about the second ever cinematic adaptation of the works of H. P. Lovecraft (depending a little on how you count) and it’s probably still my favorite – even while it’s also definitely not the best. This Shepperton version of an AIP shocker boasts lots of people talking and wandering around in big, dark houses, but it’s also got plenty of bravura moments, including the “zoo in hell” sequence, which is the apogee of monster design, and a climax that features Boris Karloff wrapped in aluminum foil.
Selected by More In Graves (Orrin Grey)
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Let’s be real here, no one is watching Gremlins for the plot. We’re all watching to see those green, scaly, slimy, lil’ monsters get into hijinks. What I remember most from the original Gremlins is the sequence in which we are shown a plethora of Gremlins that have taken over the local bar. Smoking, drinking, beating each other’s asses. It’s great. Gremlins 2: The New Batch realizes this and doubles down. We get spider gremlins, gargoyle gremlins, a She-Gremlin, and a talking Wall Street broker gremlin. Come on, fam! This shit is the one.
Selected by the Pumpkin Prince (Phillip Russell)
Cabin in the Woods (2011)
How could this not be the selection for the Lovecraftian theme? Yes, I could have chosen The Color Out of Space or The Re-Animator or even The Thing, but Cabin in the Woods is the ur-text. It has all the baddies – slashers, werewolves, evil scientists – plus elder gods! To me, this rises to the cream of the crop for peak horror before the genre even really crystalized in the latter half of the 2010s. It’s an all-around knockout full of unspeakable horror.
Selected by Noahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (Noah Springer)
The Shape of Water (2017)
“This is a romance,” I hear you you say, “not a horror.” And you might technically be correct, but consider: 1950s America is terrifying, and The Shape of Water‘s antagonist is a sinister representation of it. Besides, what if, like Guillermo Del Toro, you looked at the creature of the Black Lagoon and thought, “He deserves love”? Halloween is for you too, friend.
Selected by Boo-th Cassidy (Ruth Cassidy)
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
The only thing scary about this movie is how many damn times I watched it with my niece and nephew. Kids can watch the same movie literally an infinite number of times. Terrifying shit.
Selected by Ben Flay-er (Ben Sailer)
What if playing metal music actually summoned the devil? This New Zealand export has a weird amount of charm and while it may not be for everyone, it’s a bloody tale of friendship and figuring out what you’re into when you’re in high school and it resonated with me.
Selected by Amanda Boo-gins (Amanda Hudgins)
The Void (2016)
Not terribly long ago I tried to run a game of Dead Channel and in my head it was going to look like The Void. It was a total disaster in that regard but The Void sits high upon a low budget cosmic horror throne.
Selected by David “Editor in Coffin” Shimomura