Updated: Jan 23
What’s up fellow film enthusiasts and welcome to another genre suggestions.
The original artwork for the monster thumbnail is created by by Joseph Diaz you can check out more of his work from here.
H.P. Lovecraft, Selected Letters III: 1929-1931
“The basis of all true cosmic horror is violation of the order of nature, and the profoundest violations are always the least concrete and describable.”
So in the last post, I covered the steampunk genre, and as promised this week's post will be on Lovecraftian inspired Cosmic-horror. Now cosmic horror is an exciting genre. Because even if you're a movie buff or someone who just likes to watch scary films. There's a high chance this might already be one of your favourite sub-genres without you even realizing it.
Now my definition of cosmic horror boils down to movies that must have a terrified protagonist. Not because of the monsters or their dangerous surroundings, but because at some point in the movie, they realize that they have absolutely no power to change anything in the environment that surrounds them. Therefore films where the main characters struggle to fight against something that cannot be challenged, a battle that technically can't be won. In short, movies that don't have a happy ending.
Also, I want you to bear in mind, I'm going to be covering Cosmic horror-themed films. Movies that I feel do a fantastic job at adapting Lovecraftian themes. Not movies based on the works of HP Lovecraft as I will be doing a separate post for you guys on that topic.
Almost 12 months after her husband was presumed dead during a covert mission. Lena a biologist still in grieving, is suddenly approached by her missing spouse at their home. Remembering nothing of his time away their reunion is cut short when he abruptly falls sick. In order to try to help him, she signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious environmental disaster zone known as "the Shimmer" where the laws of nature apparently don't apply.
Another film that fell victim to been wrongly labeled as an adventure fantasy sci-fi on Rotten Tomatoes. Annihilation is a thought-provoking horror that has some solid performances that match it’s equally eerie atmosphere. Another interesting thing about this movie is it’s odd almost disjointed pacing that for some strange if not intentional reason fits the film really well. If you combine all of that with a story that has an impressive twist, in a visually creepy n’ very strange world you get a pretty ideal movie for fans of cosmic horror.
John Carpenter's Apocalypse Trilogy
R.J. MacReady, The Thing (1982)
"Why don't we just wait here for a little while, see what happens?"
Considered by Carpenter as a set, the three movies Prince Of Darkness, In The Mouth Of Madness and The Thing, in one way or another all focus on the end of days. The Thing is about a research station that uncovers an alien being that can take on the form of anything it ingests - this understandably leads to endless havoc & acute paranoia in the encampment as the men question and doubt each other's identities.
Whereas Prince of Darkness conveys a sense of slumbering malevolence in the form of an ancient green liquid- that if awoken would definitely lead to an apocalyptic ending for mankind. And In the mouth of Madness covers the destruction of reality from the point of view of a talented insurance investigator turned mad. Who has crazed adventures through dark New England towns with dimensional portals and tentacled monsters.
Individually these movies are all original, enjoyable and well-made, but, when watched together they make great use of the relentlessly unfavorable themes and dark philosophies of Lovecraft. Movies that not only creep you out but are highly thought-provoking.
Event Horizon (1997)
In the near future, Seven years have passed since the supposed and mysterious destruction of the deep space exploration ship Event Horizon. So when it abruptly reappears in a decaying orbit around Neptune. A rescue crew, advised by the ships creator - is assembled to retrieve any survivors and to investigate what exactly happened to the ship and why.
While I’ve already covered this film in my sci-fi horror video, I just couldn’t resist putting it in. But that’s because Event Horizon is a great Lovecraftian space horror that has an original story, an eerie atmosphere, and solid practical effects. Yes, the abrupt change of pace in the 3rd act, unfortunately, does the film harm with its cheesy over the top action scenes.
But even with these flaws, Event Horizon has some really interesting concepts that I wish more sci-fi horror films would cover. It’s a suspenseful and creepy film that is genuinely scary and can be pretty funny at times too.
The Last Wave (1977)
Follows an Australian lawyer who takes on the defense of a group of aborigines accused of killing one of their own in a drunken brawl. After accepting the case and suspecting the victim was killed for violating a tribal taboo, he is suddenly plagued by a series of apocalyptic dreams, and realizes his own deep connection with these aboriginal men and their folklore.
With an eerie film score and equally chilling atmosphere, The Last Wave is one of those dark films with a premise that's pretty terrifying if you spend some time thinking about it.For the most part, I almost didn’t add this film to the list as technically I’d say it's more of a thriller than a horror. However, it’s full of synonymous Lovecraft themes. Such as cults willing to kill to keep secrets and a protagonist who is unable to escape his fate, while slowly going mad.
The Last Wave is one of those haunting mood-driven movies that has an interesting and unique premise yet I can imagine some people not been able to get into it, as it doesn’t obviously exhibit your more typical Lovecraft themes. But that doesn't stop this film from being worth checking out.
During a business trip away, Mark learns that his wife Anna has grown restless in what he mistakenly believed was a happy marriage. With her exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior upon his return home and asking for a divorce. Suspecting infidelity Mark becomes determined to find out the truth and gradually finds that his wife's strange behavior is a lot more complex than a
simple love affair.
A film that is rich in maddening metaphors and allegories Possession is a surreal horror that has very strong Polanski & Cronenberg vibes to it, that if watched will surely put you off the idea of getting married.Now if there is one thing that really stands out in this movie apart from its cinematography and disturbing surrealism is it’s acting- Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill literally go insane as they crank their unhinged characters insanity up to 11.
A cult classic that leaves its viewer shaken, confused and wanting more. Possession provides its audience with serious Lovecraftian themes of madness, isolation, and cosmicism.
The Mist (2007)
Following a freak storm the night before, a thick mysterious fog descends upon a small town in Maine. Unknown to its unsuspecting residents accompanying this mist is something uncompromising, terrifying and deadly. With a small band of townsfolk holding up in the local supermarket, it's not long before these frightened people have more than the mist and the unknown to worry about.
A great story of survival, despair and terror The mist is a pretty solid interpretation of Stephen King's novel where you’re presented with scenes of suspense and tragedy.Honestly one thing I just love about this movie is how the characters have absolutely no power to change anything around them. I mean they’re stuck, and have very few options, and this of course frightens the shit out of them so much so that they end up doing some pretty stupid things.
Now I know that the ending for this film divides a lot of people, but if you’re like me and Stephen King you’ll think it’s great and devastating as it sums up cosmic horror perfectly, hopefully it won’t disappoint you.
Starting off with a man's strange obsession with spirals. Weird things are starting to happen to the inhabitants in a small Japanese town. With students at the local school committing suicide and his father acting weird.A teenage boy tries to escape the growing madness with his childhood friend
after realizing something bad is going on. But is it too late or has the madness already infected them?
A bizarre horror that ends up being a little more funny than scary, Uzumaki nevertheless, still remains an absolutely great example of Japanese horror. With its use of over the top close up body language to make its characters and viewers feel uncomfortable. That and its blend of black satirical humor together with horrific visuals is really done well.
I won’t lie the manga is considerably better however, as they only made a live action version- then we're stuck with this interpretation. I think my only real gripe with this movie is it’s cheesy acting and music in the 1st act, which I can imagine will put some people off. But once you get past the first 30 mins you’re going to be getting some great Lovecraftian horror to sink your teeth into.
The Void (2016)
Shortly after delivering a blood-soaked man to a small hospital late at night. A Sheriff called Carter finds himself overwhelmed by violent men, cloaked cult-like figures and horrifying creatures that appear out of nowhere. Trapped inside and desperately trying to protect the survivors from these inhuman monsters, things really start to get bad for Carter when he notices a link between the patients and these things.
As a great throwback to B movies from the 80s, The Void is a fun gorefest that boasts some pretty respectable particle effects for a low budget film. This movie really is.. an orgy of cosmic horror themes, that share a lot of similarities to John Carpenter's “The Thing” and the 80’s remake of the Blob. It’s deliberately ambiguous which I appreciate, as unneeded exposition can often wreck films like this- thankfully the void keeps things fairly confusing and vague.
The void is a legitimate horror for fans of 80’s blood, gore, and tentacles and is
definitely worth checking out.