Underrated Cosmic Horror Movies Where The Abyss Stares Back At You

List Rules
Vote up the movies that deserve reconsideration of their place in the universe.

Stranger Things has been a massive success for Netflix, while introducing many younger audience members to the cinematic sub-genre of cosmic horror. Less popular are these underrated cosmic horror movies, either because they have been forgotten or never received attention matching their quality in filmmaking. Whatever the reason, these underrated cosmic horror classics deserve a revival in pop culture, much like Kate Bush. 

Cosmic horror is also often referred to as Lovecraftian horror, because of the influence and themes borrowed from author H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft and cosmic horror both focus on the horror of the unknowable and incomprehensible, often dealing with forbidden knowledge and otherworldly entities intruding on our sense of reality. Sometimes these entities are extraterrestrial or demonic in nature, while other times their origins are a complete mystery. The sub-genre takes the themes of gothic and supernatural horror and elevates them to a “cosmic” level.


  • The final film in John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy” blurs the lines between reality and fiction with a plot about the work of a successful horror author believed to affect the readers. When freelance insurance investigator John Trent (Sam Neill) is hired to investigate a publishing house’s claim involving the disappearance of author Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow), he is pulled into a confounding puzzle.

    Trent follows clues to a town that is depicted as fictional in Cane’s novels, finding elements from the books while questioning whether he himself is a character or truly alive. The citizens of the town believe that Cane’s books have freed an ancient race of monstrous beings called "The Old Ones," creating this distortion of reality. With the title referencing H. P. Lovecraft’s novella At the Mountains of Madness, Carpenter’s film embraces ambiguity to make a truly chilling cosmic horror film.

    Available On:

  • 2
    1,200 VOTES

    Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, Event Horizon is a cosmic horror film set in space. When a crew of astronauts set out on a rescue mission in 2047, they discover the starship Event Horizon, which was missing for seven years prior to reappearing orbiting the planet of Neptune. The Event Horizon’s designer, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill), is brought along because of his knowledge about the ship’s experimental gravity drive, which has the ability to fold space-time.

    Upon arriving, they discover the drive has opened a portal to a dimension outside of the known universe, causing members of the rescue mission to witness horrific hallucinations. After a troubled production and rushed editing, Event Horizon was released to poor reviews and box office numbers, but Anderson’s nightmarish vision has developed a cult following in the years since.

    Available On:

    subscription

  • 3
    893 VOTES
    The Mist
    Photo: MGM

    Based on Stephen King’s 1980 novella, The Mist involves a small town in Maine that becomes engulfed in a mist containing an assortment of Lovecraftian creatures of all sizes. It is eventually revealed that a nearby military base accidentally opened the space to another dimension, unleashing the monsters on the town. A group of the town's citizens become trapped in the local grocery store, uncertain of what horrors might emerge from beyond their view in the mist.

    This dread is as terrifying as the creatures themselves, some of which are otherworldly. Director Frank Darabont later went on to create The Walking Dead series, and several cast members from that can be found in The Mist, along with Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Andre Braugher, and Toby Jones.

    Available On:

    subscription

  • John Carpenter released a trio of movies in the 1980s and ‘90s referred to as his "Apocalypse Trilogy," and each contains elements of cosmic horror. While The Thing has achieved classic status over the years, Prince of Darkness remains tragically underrated.

    The film follows quantum physics professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong) as he brings his students to a church in Los Angeles to investigate a cylinder of mysterious liquid discovered in a monastery. When members of the group are exposed to the substance, they become possessed, leading the professor and a priest (Donald Pleasence) to believe it is a liquid incarnation of Satan and tied to the realm of anti-matter. Prince of Darkness takes the traditional possession narrative and adds science and alternate realms, along with an army of zombie-like homeless people that surround the church and prevent anyone from leaving. While Prince of Darkness has scenes of gruesome deaths, the real horror is in the unknowable elements brought out through the anti-matter realm. 

    Available On:

    subscription