Del Toro Talks Monsters and More for 'Mountains of Madness'

September 17, 2010
Source: Collider

Guillermo del Toro

While many of you are psyched at the prospect of seeing H.P. Lovecraft's classic novel At the Mountains of Madness come to life on the big screen, I can almost guarantee none of you are as excited as the film's director, Guillermo del Toro. We heard not too long ago that Tom Cruise and James McAvoy were being pursued to lead the literally monstrous adaptation, and since Collider broke that story, that's the first thing they asked about in a recent interview. Del Toro says it's too early to begin casting as they just turned in a new draft of the script to James Cameron and producers. However, he does up offer some amazing details.

Though the film hasn't officially been greenlit yet, del Toro has met with ILM's Dennis Muren, who is designing the monsters for the film. If you don't recognize the name, you'll surely know his work in visual and creature effects for the Star Wars Trilogy, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park. Yea, he's kind of a big deal in the visual/special effects world. Apparently Muren turned to del Toro at one point and said, "You've never seen monsters like this." Apparently the book doesn't describe the creatures in very intricate details so that gives Muren and del Toro a lot of room for creativity.

Don't worry though, because del Toro isn't looking to stray far away from the novella. Helping along the adaptation process, del Toro will be anding out the project to some Lovecraft scholars to get their input on it. However, he's quick to say, "I'm not going to get it right for all the fans. There's no chance of that." The fact that he understands that concept is reason enough for me to believe without a doubt that he's the right man for the job. Other directors will blow smoke up your ass and say that they want to please all the loyal fans, and that's what makes an honest and true artist like del Toro so inspiring. This is also the very reason that it sounds like he'll have no interference from the studio in the creative process (more on that below).

The only issue right now is that the film isn't greenlit yet, and it sounds like it's still in a very delicate place. The filmmaker reveals that this movie is one that "if we don't get the right money, if we don't get the right support, I won't do it." He goes on to say, "It's a movie that's been with me for thirteen years. It's been with me as a fan since I read it as a kid. It's one of those seminal books." Along with other horror classics like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein, The Incredible Shrinking Man and Salem's Lot, H.P. Lovecraft's book certainly holds a special place in his heart and in his mind. This isn't just another project for him as much as a dream that he gets to finally direct himself (which we've heard him talk about for years and years prior).

And with this dream project, he's not going to be taking any other directing jobs at the time. This is his sole concentration as a director, and he's hoping like hell (as we all are, too) that it comes together. His biggest concern is that the project contains three of the big turn-offs for studio execs: it's a horror tentpole with a big budget, a period piece and a hard R-rated story all rolled into one. But del Toro said he pulled a "Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and gave a grand speech to Universal to get them on-board.

In addition to all of Collider's fantastic updates, Alex also spoke with del Toro a few days ago up in Toronto (full interview forthcoming) and got a few great quotes out of him as well about the adaptation. I asked him if he has complete creative freedom with At the Mountains of Madness and development of the project:

"100%. I mean, the movie waited 13 years to be done the right way -- I mean, the right way for me. That's not going to be the right way for everyone… But I waited for 7 years to make Hellboy because I wanted to do Hellboy with Ron Perlman. And I waited 13 years to make Mountains because I need the creative freedom. I need to keep it period, I need to make it a period film, I need to make it R-rated, and I need to make it a big tentpole. And within those three -- freedom.

And the partnership with Jim Cameron is great because Jim has been a friend for 20 years, but he's been a supporter also, and he made it very clear to me. We had the conversations, and we haven't done anything together professionally -- I showed him my movies, he shows me his movies, we talk in the editing room, but we said 'do we formally work together?' And we had the conversation and I said: 'complete freedom.' And at this stage also, I do have more control… So if I screw it up, it will be all my fault."

I don't know about all of you guys, but this is unquestionably one of my most highly anticipated projects coming up in the next few years, it really sounds like it will be incredibly. I can't wait to see what Guillermo is going to do with complete creative freedom, especially because that means he's going to make the exact At the Mountains of Madness movie he's been trying to make for many years. And although we still don't know about the cast and even though it's not greenlit yet, I'm already enthusiastic thinking about these monsters we've "never seen" that del Toro and Murren are coming up with. We already know what his imagination can come up with in Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy II and I'm so excited to see what his cthulhu will look like.


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Really hope he gets past that delicate spot because this just all sounds so phenomenal. The fact he keeps emphasizing the hard R part makes me happy. Also with his direction, that one guy doing creature design and a big budget....well this has the possibility to be one of the most terrifying movies ever fucking made.

Cody w on Sep 17, 2010


Uh, Cthulhu doesn't show up anywhere in the novella...but I can see why they'd be tempted to shoehorn him into the movie.

Laplace's Demon on Sep 17, 2010


@Laplace's Demon: Euhm, Cthulhu is mentioned in the novel. When they enter the city and "read" the stories on the wall, they see the history of those creatures. One story is about creatures like Cthulhu battling the Elder Things.

Valkyrium on Sep 17, 2010


Del Toro, Cruise, Cameron, Rated R and Monsters - that sounds fantastic!!!

Ramon on Sep 17, 2010


Any studio who passes on this project deserves to go broke. Seriously, it's a win situation for everyone involved - including the fans and mainstream audiences who enjoy horror. If Del Toro and Cameron are left alone to do what they want, it can't go wrong.

tEDDY bESS on Sep 17, 2010


Um, I keep hearing that the monsters were not described in intricate detail, leaving room for the imagination. That is not entirely true and worries me. This is part of the Cthulu mythos, and the Elder monsters were described in great detail in other Lovecraft works, especially in one short story (which the title escapes me know) where a man and one of these monsters switches bodies and time for a number of years. Also, Cthulu doesn't show up in the novella, but I agree with the above that it would be OK to include him in the end.

The Eskimo on Sep 17, 2010


Oh man I hope he treats this with tender loving care. I've been waiting years for a decent director to adapt the book to the the big screen "properly". The same kind of care Peter Jackson put into The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. This is a film that can easily fall victim to plastic CGI syndrome turning it into a cheap effects B movie. The more realism the better.

JimD on Sep 17, 2010


You know, he'll do this right. Before I read anything at all about him, I suspected him to be a Lovecraft fan... the storyline and monsters in both Hellboy movies allude to HPL.

Michael on Sep 18, 2010


I'm sure the movie will be awesome but the big question is whether it'll make any money

silver on Sep 20, 2010

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