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Lovecraft Film Lists

Part One: 1950 - 1970.

Part Two: 1971 - 1980.

Part Three: 1981 - 1990.

Part Four: 1991 - 2000.

Part Five: 2001 -

Questionable Inclusions.

from The Arkham Advertiser, volume 1, issue 2.


PART TWO: 1971 - 1980

Unfortunately (or fortunately to some) Lovecraft was pretty much ignored in the 1970's. Most of the theatrical attempts never got off the ground.  But television and film students did attack the subject with more success.  One major drawback to adapting Lovecraft to motion picture is its length.  Lovecraft crafted short stories and novellas.  The long form motion picture requires that the adapters fill in the time with additional material.  And that doesn't usually work, especially for fans of the stories.  But many of the amateurs who attempted adapting the stories in short film form have found success in adapting. 

As for television, well, when Rod Serling adapts writers he usually does a pretty good job.  Well, he is a writer after all.  Night Gallery took on a number of the Lovecraft short stories with reasonable success.  And, thanks to the Science Fiction Channel, the Night Gallery episodes are being rerun.

USA (AIP) 1971

Film Rumor

Sam Arkoff's American International Pictures announced in the trades that they were going to put a film entitled The Colour Out of Space into production in 1970. The script was said to have been based on both "The Colour out of Space" and "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward." The film was never made.
Rod Serling's Night Gallery - USA (Universal/NBC-TV) 1971. 

2nd Season 1971, production 2-11a, 1 Dec 71 

Producer / director: Jack Laird

Cast: Bradford Dillman, Louise Sorel, Donald Morrat, Jack Livingston, Joshua Bryant, Joan Tompkins.


This was one of the better episodes in Serling's lesser version of the "Twilight Zone". Dillman plays the tortured Richard Pickman and Louise Sorel the art patron who almost comes to her end at the hands of a creature who abducts women to procreate.

According to Murray: "The problem with "Pickman's Model" is that they showed the monster: Lovecraft's monsters are generally too horrific to show on film. And then they are presented as stuntmen in latex suits, they looks silly." 

Rod Serling's Night Gallery - USA (Universal/NBC-TV) 1971

2nd Season 1971, production 2-12a, 8 Dec 71

Cast: Barbara Rush, Henry Darrow, Beatrice Kay, Larry Blake, Karl Lucas


Rod Serling adaptation in a Hammer vein with Darrow as Dr. Munoz and Barbara Rush as the narrator. A haunting love story of a young woman and her late father's colleague, a man clinging desperately to life in a refrigerated flat.

Murray: "A good version of a lame story."

Rod Serling's Night Gallery - USA (Universal/NBC-TV) 1971.

2nd Season 1971, production 2- 8d, 10 Nov 71

Producer /director /script: Jack Laird

Cast: Carl Reiner


A tongue in cheek episode of Professor Peabody (Reiner) talking about Cthulhu and the rest of the Mythos pantheon while reading from a paperback edition of THE NECRONOMICON.  The lecture drops references to many of the Mythos names from Cthulhu to Nyarlathotep, from Arkham to Miskatonic, and even from Lovecraft to Derleth.  While debunking ancient cults, the academic unwisely scoffs at the wrong god. 
Rod Serling's Night Gallery - USA (Universal/NBC-TV)

* 3rd Season 1972 (now 30 min), production 3-1, 24 Sep 72

Cast: Vincent Price, Bill Bixby, Patricia Sterling.


A sorcerer hires a translator to divine the meaning of an ancient Arabic manuscript that has some grisly connection with his twin brother's death
[Alternate title: THE RAKSHASE] - Kolchak: The Night Stalker - USA (Universal/NBC-TV) 1974

Director: Michael T. Caffey; Script: Jimmy Sangster

Starring: Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage, Ruth McDevitt, Phil Silvers, Benny Rubin, Abraham Soafar

1st Season 1974, production 1-11, 20 Dec 74


Investigative reporter Kolchak (McGavin) discovers a Rakshasha, a flesh eating demon from Hindu legend, preys upon the elderly in Chicago's Jewish ghetto, taking on the form of the person his victim trusts most.   The script, by Hammer veteran Jimmy Sangster, was said to be a tribute to Lovecraft." 

Stephen Jones says, "One of the better episodes of the short-lived Kolchak television series, based on two tele-movies written by Richard Matheson. 


USA (Pentagram Pictures) 1975, 35 minutes

Director / Script: David C. Smith

Starring: David Clement, J. Vernon Shea, Ron Koloskee, Barry Meshel

An amateur (super 8 / silent) rendition of the Lovecraft story shot in Ohio which included Lovecraft correspondent J. Vernon Shea.

"Given the obvious limitations, it's a fairly faithful adaptation of Lovecraft's story. Much of the story is told in the title cards, mostly relating the letters the two lead characters shared, and the actual camera footage is barely adequate to illustrate the story. It's, um, interesting... in a morbid sort of way." - Bruce V. Edwards, Bad Cinema Diary

Giger's Necronomicon 1975
Switzerland, Documentary, C-40 minutes

Director: H.R. Giger, J.J. Wittmer

While not a Lovecraft project, H. R. Giger has a strong undersanding of Lovecraft's imagery and has brought that to his own Necronomicon, an artistic work which brings alien creatures into our realm.  His influence, and that of Lovecraft on him, can been seen most clearly in the film "Alien."
Phantasm 1979
USA, 1979, 88 minutes

Director / producer / script: Don Coscarelli 

Cast: A. Michael Baldwin (Michael 'Mike' Pearson), Bill Thornbury (Jody Pearson), Reggie Bannister (Reggie), Kathy Lester (Lady in Lavender), Terrie Kalbus (Fortuneteller's Granddaughter), Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man)

Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, is afraid to lose his brother. This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink the to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man. - IMDB Summary written by Chris Nickerson {cnicker@bgnet.bgsu.edu}

There is a strong feeling of Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness in the film.  The idea of cannistering up humans and shipping them off into space is similar in many ways to the cannisters discovered by Wilmarth on Akeley's farm.

USA (Cinema Vista Corporation) 1979 Dir: Wolfgang Glattes Prod/Scr: David Hurd, William Baetz

Film Rumor

"I want to make 'Cthulhu' a household word," said producer David Hurd as he announced his $6 million dollar film based on an "original" treatment to be shot in the German Black Forest. Obviously, he didn't.
USA (Columbia College, Chicago) 1980.  17 minutes
Dir/Scr: John Strysik Prod: John Strysik & Robert Rothman

Starring: Robert Ruevain, Robert Alexander, Darryl Warren, Barbara Snapp

A 17 minute amateur version of the Lovecraft short story. Despite the limitations of a college production it has a feel for the genre until it tries to depict the terror.

This story revolves around a student of metaphysics, Charles Dexter Ward who befriends Erich Zann an aging violinist who lives on the floor above him. Charles is fascinated and then drawn to Zann's sinister yet wonderful music that he hears late at night drifting down from above. He, of course, discovers more than he bargained for when he peers at what beckons from beyond that strange curtained window in Zann's room.  IMDB summary written by Ørnås

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So, all in all, the Seventies were not a good time for Lovecraft adaptations. Film producers were uncertain if there was a large enough audience for Lovecraft adaptations. And the fans were hoping for someone to spend enough money on a picture that might break pulp writer Lovecraft out of the B-movie houses.   But, since his name was not the household word Poe's was, such films were considered a financial risk. Next, Lovecraft in the Reagan years. .
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. Bibliography:

Halliwell, Lee, Halliwell's Film Guide, Granada, UK, 1979

Hardy, Phil, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Woodbury, 1984

Jones, Stephen, "Haunters of the Dark," Fear Magazine, UK, Oct. 1990

Maltin, Leonard, TV Movies and Video Film Guide, Signet, 1990

Murray, Will, "H. P. Lovecraft: The Unadaptable?," Fangoria #106, Sept 1991

Rod Serling's Night Gallery reference:

Kolchak: The Night Stalker web reference

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