Often, when we encounter a lurking fear presented in any form of entertainment – film, art, literature, music, and even bumper stickers – Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s influence plays a part. This blog focuses on horror films, and unfortunately, Lovecraft has not always been represented well in this genre, at least not frequently with films that directly credit his works. Movies like Re-Animator and the obscure, but effective Call of Cthulhu are exceptions. Still, his impact may be better embodied in cinema that displays his horrific visions clearly, but without any direct citation.
The Alien franchise has tapped into Lovecraftian themes effectively and blatantly, perhaps most obviously with the latest film – the prequel Prometheus – which details the suggestion in the Lovecraft novella ‘At the Mountains of Madness’, that alien life forms initiated human existence. Allegedly, this very plot element has side-lined Guillermo del Toro’s own film project of the previously-mentioned Lovecraft work (more details can be found here: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/06/10/prometheus-ridley-scott-guillermo-del-toro-lovecraft/ ).
Likewise, the various film versions of The Thing (especially John Carpenter’s 1982 effort) channel the horrors of ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ palpably, with the same Antarctic setting. The source material for The Thing was John W. Campbell’s ‘Who Goes There?’, a story with striking similarities to Lovecraft’s yarn. Curiously, Campbell’s story was first published in 1938 by the magazine he edited, Astounding Stories. ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ was initially published by the same mag – in 1936. Homage or not, ‘Who Goes There’ is a fantastic story that captures the atmosphere of paranoia, isolation, and alien menace that ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ shares.
Sam Raimi deserves a shout out for including Lovecraft’s inventive grimoire, The Necronomicon, in his Evil Dead film series. Not only is its inclusion a nice reference to the author, but the movies also display ground-breaking, cinematic elements worthy of the genre-defining Lovecraft.
Beyond these popular films are numerous others that have Lovecraftian touches without direct acknowledgment, but in a way that best illustrates the immense scope of his influence. You can’t deny the presence of the Old Ones!!!!! To do so would invite madness!!!!! Yet, conceding their existence is an assured path to insanity!!!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA………………………………….. Happy Birthday, H.P.!!!!!!