If not for Lovecraft, there would be no Cthulhu mythos. If not for Lovecraft, there would not be rats in the walls or a whisperer in the darkness. If not for Lovecraft, I probably wouldn't have a favorite horror author. Howard Phillips paved the way for literary horror fiction in the twentieth century. His stories make your skin crawl, send your pulse racing when he describes vaguely yet frighteningly the horrors which mankind cannot see or imagine without losing his/her mind. And there were times when my mind was set on edge by reading his prose. His ideas grip your imagination and make you wonder whether we're alone on this earth or if there are older, wiser things buried beneath sandy deserts, deep oceans, or outer-space. No other writer (that I've read so far) has made me feel the way he does while reading his material.
I guess it's safe to say his writing is definitely an acquired taste. I even watched a documentary about him once where someone said his writing is 'anal retentive'. That may be so, but there is no denying that most of his work can chill you to the bone if you understand what he means and the way you interpret it. Many of his stories have 'twist' endings, where the reader is led to somewhere unusual and then BOOM--something happens you don't expect. Stories of such include 'Cool Air', 'The Music of Erich Zann', 'The Outsider', alongside many others. I like being shocked at the end of a story, especially when you finally realize what he meant when he said about something earlier you didn't quite understand.
"The Call of Cthulhu" is about a massive octipod creature from outside our known realm of space who sleeps in the Pacific Ocean, waiting for the stars in the sky to be right again so that he can wake once more. "From Beyond" is about a mad scientist who creates a machine that stimulates the human 'Pineal Gland', letting the scientist and his assistant the ability to see into intersecting dimensions filled with other physical (and non) beings swimming around us at all times. These are just some of the amazing ideas and worlds Lovecraft has created. It's just ashame he didn't live very long, so he could have done more. His work didn't become as popular till later on, after his death.
But more and more new writers (and readers) have found, read and appreciated the gift he bestowed upon the world. I hope he grows more popular as time goes on. And if you haven't read anything of his yet, I suggest you try a few of his stories on for size. Within the last 20-25 years, many of his stories have been made into films, including 'Re-animator', 'From Beyond', 'The Unnamable', and several others. Still, movies based on his short stories are coming out all the time, one of them which I'm dying to see: "The Whisperer in Darkness", one of my favorite stories of his.
Despite what happens in the future, I'm sure Lovecraft's legacy will go on. I have even adapted his short story format into the way I write, using twist endings and unusual ideas. May his work forever have an audience, and may one day Cthulhu rise from the ocean in his honor!