The truth is it’s hard to say where story elements originated. For example, the movie Pirates of the Caribbean had a naive young hero joining a group of pirates in order to say his love interest who was the daughter of an authority figure. Now none of this was present in Pirates of the Caribbean ride. But it was present in both On Stranger Tides and Monkey Island. So does that mean the movie take these ideas from the book or the computer game? Did the computer game take them from the book?
Hard to say. Because the same plot elements were also present in Swashbuckler and Yellowbeard and Pirates and Captain Blood. At some point you start wondering if anything new has been added to the genre since Pyle and Sabatini.
Didn’t both Stranger Tides and PotC have a scene where the young lead meets his true love when she is rescued from the flotsam of a ship sunk in a pirate attack? Not SURE about that, but I seem to recall it … Did Swashbuckler, Yellowbeard, Pirates or Captain Blood present voodoo magic as an everyday part of the lives of the pirates? Don’t remember them so well …
I had read that Rodriguez wanted Carpenter to score the movie, but it didn’t work out. So after watching the movie I assumed Rodriguez just straight up lifted some of Carpenter’s scores, but wiki says it’s original music ‘inspired’ by Carpenter.
Despite wearing its influences on its sleeve, Hellboy doesn’t strike me as particularly Lovecraftian. Sure, it’s got tentacly elder gods in it, but you can generally defeat them by punching them really hard. Plus, there’s a whole array of supernatural forces in the Hellboy universe that are basically friendly (or at least benignly neutral) to humans - the title character in particular. The thing that makes Lovecraft Lovecraft is the sense of cosmic futility to the stories - that the entire human race are basically ants, and the best possible outcome we can hope for is that we can avoid being noticed for a little while longer before something comes along and stomps us into oblivion. Hellboy doesn’t have that. Humanity, in Hellboy, is important - not just in terms of being necessary to the schemes of the great and terrible, but these beings are constrained by human philosophy. Hellboy himself exists because, in order for the apocalypse to happen, it has to be started by a being with free will, which is what gives Professor Bruttenholm the window to raise him as a hero, instead of a monster. I think that’s ultimately antithetical to Lovecraft’s aesthetic. In a proper Lovecraft story, free will is one of those pathetic lies we tell to comfort ourselves against the howling, endless dark. In Lovecraft, when a character has a little bit of human in him, and a little bit of monster, the monster always wins. Hellboy takes a fundamentally opposite tack from all that - I think you could make a good case for calling it “The best Robert E. Howard story not written by Robert E. Howard,” but Lovecraft? No, it’s too swashbuckling, too optimistic.
Quatermass captures that sense of futility and unimportance better than anything else I can think of outside of Lovecraft’s own works. Quatermass and the Pit, in particular, paints the human race not as special, or noble, or destined for a special place in the universe, but an accidental byproduct of some long-dead alien race’s experiments. We’re basically toxic waste - an idea made explicit in “Mountains of Madness,” but one that underlies Lovecraft’s entire oeuvre.
Hellboy is basically Lovecraft drag - it’s got all the elements, but turned up to eleven and presented as a grand adventure. Quatermass doesn’t have the outward trappings of Lovecraft, but it’s got his soul. Or, at least, his disembodied brain sealed in a brass canister.
That’s not Cthulhu, it’s one of the Ogdru Jahad, the Dragon of Revelation. Hellboy was unquestionably inspired by Lovecraft, but it’s not part of the Cthulhu Mythos, and is fundamentally incompatible with it - the creation myth described in the comics owes more to Tolkien than anything else.
Just to add to this incestuous spiral of inspiration and counter-inspiration, I know for a fact that the third Monkey Island game, Curse of Monkey Island, drew heavy inspiration from the theme park ride - I used to sleep with one of the writers.
Only the Quatermass series doesn’t really deal in futility. In Lovecraft the hero typically faints away and can’t do anything more. The threat of the Elder Gods is still there * in Quatermass the hero fights back against the Alien Evuil and defeats it – The blobby thing in The Quatermass Xperiment/The Creeoping unknow gets electrocuted (in the movie. In the original teleplay it’s somewhat different – but it’s still beaten) In Quatermass II/Enemy from Space the Blob thing gets prematurely exposed to oxygen, burned and poisoned, and its space home gets nuked. In Quatermass and the Pit the (for once no-blobby) alien tjhing (The Spirit of Hob) gets destroyed by Iron (differently in the movie than the teleplay, but same idea). There’s no futility/inevitability at all
*In The Call of Cthulhu, the wakened Cthulhu gets smashed and broken up by the ship in a rare case of positive action by a Lovecraft character. but he’s reassembling like the T-100 before – presumably – getting back into his bed at Rlyeh and hitting the snooze alarm.
That’s fairly typical for Lovecraft, too, whose characters aren’t nearly as lily-livered as people seem to remember. In The Thing on the Doorstep, the protagonist is on trial for murdering the wizard who had taken over his friend’s body. In “Dreams in the Witchhouse,” the protagonist stops the witch’s attempted child sacrifice, causing her to be destroyed by the power she sought to raise - but he’s later killed by her familiar. “The Whisperer in the Darkness” involves a shoot-out (off camera) in which one of the monsters is killed. “The Dunwich Horror” and “Call of Cthulhu” are both relatively action-filled stories of narrowly-averted apocalypse. Aside from Cthulhu’s boating accident, there’s the raid on the swamp-cult, and in “Dunwich,” the magical showdown between Professor Armitage and Wilbur Whately’s twin brother. The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward involves a plot by a cabal of immortal wizards to rule the world. The protagonist does faint at one point, but in the end, personally kills the main villain, and causes the destruction of the rest of the cabal.
There’s lots of other stories where the narrator is primarily an observer to someone else’s destruction (“Rats in the Walls,” “The Colour Out of Space”) or which function essentially as a travelog so Lovecraft can describe ideas or locations that intrigue him (“Shadow out of Time,” The Silver Key), and plenty of stories of people with sensitive dispositions completely losing their shit because they saw a boogeyman, but Lovecraft was a pulp writer, and a lot of his protagonists were proper pulp leading men: arctic explorers, archaeologists, and other sorts of adventurers, who quite often succeed at beating back the horrors of the void, but always with the understanding that the void will win in the end - it’s that sense of futility on an existential level, not a personal one, that I think exists in the Quatermass movies.