The Lovecraftian stories of Stephen King

What makes a story Lovecraftian? Is it tentacles? Cthulhu? Yog-sothoth? On one level, perhaps. But personally, what I’m really interested in is cosmic horror. So when I list “the Lovecraftian stories of Stephen King,”, what I really mean is “stories by Stephen King with cosmic horror elements”.

So here’s the list! Did I miss any? If so, comment below.

Revival (novel) – This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written.

From a Buick 8 (novel) – Shortly after his father, a Pennsylvania state trooper, is killed in a senseless automobile accident, Ned Wilcox discovers that the members of Troop D have a secret concealed behind their headquarters. Curtis Wilcox’s friends and colleagues take turns relating the twenty-year history of the mysterious Buick Roadmaster locked in Shed B and how its discovery and unexplained behavior has captivated the tightly knit group of men for two decades. The Buick seems to be a conduit to another reality and every now and then it breathes, inhaling a little bit of this world, exhaling a little bit of whatever world it came from.

In the Tall Grass (novella, with Joe Hill) – In the Tall Grass begins with a sister and brother who pull off to the side of the road after hearing a young boy crying for help from beyond the tall grass. Within minutes they are disoriented, in deeper than seems possible, and they’ve lost one another. The boy’s cries are more and more desperate. What follows is a terrifying, entertaining, and masterfully told tale, as only Stephen and Joe can deliver.

“N.”, in Just After Sunset – N. is diagnosed by Dr. John Bonsaint as suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder and paranoid delusions related to “keeping balance”. N. has become convinced that a circle of stones in a field on the outskirts of a nearby town, Ackerman’s Field, contains a potential doorway to another reality, where a terrifying monster, repeatedly said to be a “helmet-headed” being named Cthun, is trying to break through.

“The Sun Dog”, in Four Past Midnight – A young boy receives a Polaroid camera for his birthday. There’s something wrong with his gift, though. Every picture features a menacing dog that approaches the foreground in each subsequent photograph.

“Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut”, in Skeleton Crew – David, friend of a caretaker named Homer, is an older man who is spending his later years hanging out at the local gas station in a small town. He narrates a tale about Mrs. Todd, who is obsessed with finding shortcuts. Homer admires her persistence but begins to have doubts, as there are only so many shortcuts someone can find. Mrs. Todd’s habit of resetting her odometer shows remarkable evidence that something weird is going on.

“The Mist”, in Skeleton Crew – David Drayton, his son Billy, and their neighbor Brent Norton head to the local grocery store to replenish supplies following a freak storm. Once there, they and other local citizens are trapped by a strange mist that has enveloped the town and in which strange creatures are lurking.

“I Am the Doorway”, in Night Shift – The story relates a crippled former astronaut’s account of the terrifying change he undergoes after being exposed to an extraterrestrial mutagen during a space mission to Venus.

“Jerusalem’s Lot”, in Night Shift – Jerusalem’s Lot is an epistolary short story set in the fictional town of Preacher’s Corners, Cumberland County, Maine, in 1850. It is told through a series of letters and diary entries, mainly those of its main character, aristocrat Charles Boone, although his manservant, Calvin McCann, also occasionally assumes the role of narrator.

“Crouch End”, in Nightmares and Dreamscapes – Police officers Farnham and Vetter are working the night shift and are discussing the case of Doris Freeman, a young woman who came in to report the disappearance of her husband. Nearly hysterical, Doris’s story involves monsters and other supernatural incidents. Farnham dismisses the story as rubbish, but Vetter, who has worked in Crouch End for years, is not so sure.

By the way, I think Night Shift contains one of the best forewords ever written.

There are more Stephen King stories that name-drop the Mythos — “Gramma” is an example — but I’ve focused on the stories that adhere to the themes of cosmic horror.

Plot synopses from and Wikipedia.

26 responses to “The Lovecraftian stories of Stephen King

  1. Pingback: Lovecraft Country and other Weird Places – thedarkwarden·

  2. Needful Things contains a direct reference to the Cthulhu mythos :

    A character comes across a graffiti wich reads:”Yog-Sothot rules”, a name wich he does not recognize but is afraid to even think of.


  3. Graveyard Shift is King’s loose homage to Rats in the Walls.

    I agree IT should be here, and is maybe the ultimate King-Lovecraft tale.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.