Guillermo Talks Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness Again
by Alex Billington
June 3, 2010
Although no one really knows what Guillermo del Toro, or Peter Jackson, will actually be directing next (since it won't be The Hobbit for either), they do have a number of other great projects in the works. One of them we've been hearing about since before this site even started is an adaptation of the 1931 H.P. Lovecraft novella At the Mountains of Madness, which has been del Toro's passion project for a long time. He's talked about it off and on for years and it was included in his "Roadmap to 2017" we ran back in '08. Well, Ain't It Cool News talked with del Toro recently (before The Hobbit news hit) and asked about the project.
Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like it's moving forward soon, but del Toro did have some interesting and exciting things to say anyway: "I have exactly the set of tools that I need to be brave on Mountains," he said, answering a question about if he's "brave" enough to tackle this project. "Mountains is exactly the movie I would like to do; it would push buttons, and it's extreme in many areas. It's a hard R-rated, big production tentpole in the genre of horror." That's not all he had to say, as del Toro went on talk about how he misses the good tentpole horror movies of past and why At the Mountains of Madness would be a return to that.
"What I love about tentpole horror - which is not done much anymore, if at all - is that there was a time when you could see something like Alien or The Shining or The Thing. Movies that came not as a B-movie product of a studio, but as an A, tentpole, big release, high-end production like The Exorcist, and so on and so forth. And what I would love with Mountains is for it to have all the luster and the scope of a tentpole horror movie, but be R-rated. Not because I want to do gore for gore's sake, but because it is a very adult movie, and the consequences of things are really deep and disturbing. Hopefully, one day, I will have the clout to do it. But no, I am equipped with the exact bravery to go crazy on all the movies I make."
That all sounds remarkably similar to some statements del Toro made way back in 2007 about Mountains, stating: "I think that big-scale horror, big tentpole horror, which you used to have with Alien, The Shining, The Exorcist before everyone thought horror needs to be this or that and pre-conceptualized, I think big tentpole like that should be back at some point in life, so I'm patiently waiting my turn." Essentially, it just means this is something he hopes to one day pull off as a big reintroduction to the world of tentpole horror. I hope it happens sooner than later, but it doesn't seem like it'll be next for him, even thought I wish it was.
For those who aren't familiar with the story, At the Mountains of Madness is one of H.P. Lovecraft's seminal science fiction/horror stories, first printed in 1936 in Astounding Stories. The story surrounds an expedition to Antarctica, geologist William Dyer, in which various manner of terror and creature is discovered. Its been described as "representing the decisive 'demythology' of the Cthulhu Mythos by reinterpreting Lovecraft's earlier supernatural stories in a science fiction paradigm." Essentially, this expedition discovers the cthulhu monster up in Antarctica and things get crazy from there, which is why it's absolutely perfect for del Toro.
I suggest reading AICN's full interview with GdT, although most of it's about Splice (which he produced), and there's not much Hobbit talk since it was done before that broke. I know I'm not the only one anxiously awaiting an At the Mountains of Madness film, so I hope the rest of you found this exciting to hear as well.
Now THIS is something I would love to see del Toro handle. I'm glad he's off of The Hobbit, as I don't find him versatile enough to be able to handle Middle Earth in a different light than his other fantasy movies, but I do enjoy his style, depending on the context. And this one seems like a perfect type for him. I really hope he does this.
RT on Jun 3, 2010
I'm wondering if del Toro is allowing nostalgia to color his memories of movies like Alien, The Shining, The Exorcist. I'm not sure that those were released as grade-A, big release, studio tentpole movies. If I recall, The Exorcist started out very small and grew by word of mouth. I believe the same is true of Alien, but maybe *I'm* not remembering the history of these movies. Comments anyone? I'd love to see del Toro do Mountains, and I agree with his desire for a big tentpole horror movie -- just not sure his recollection of the past is correct.
cajaygle on Jun 3, 2010
I'd actually much more interested in seeing this than I am in seeing the two Hobbit movies. So if del Toro resigning from those movies means that we get Mountains sooner, then I'm all for it.
Craig on Jun 3, 2010
Actually Mountains has almost nothing to do with Cthulhu. The civilization they uncover is far older, and in fact warred with the "star spawn" of Cthulhu and the Mi-go, and even their own creations, the shoggoth.
Lana on Jun 4, 2010
I was there for the promotions and releases of Alien, The Shining, The Exorcist and The Thing and I can assure you that these were major releases. The Shining was a Stanley Kubrick film, his first in 5 years. No studio with the privilege of releasing Kubrick from Spartacus on ever did it "small". New Year's eve 1978 in Times Square, I remember looking up at a billboard for the upcoming Alien. The Thing, was along with its flip side ET, were Universal's two big SF pictures for the summer of 1982. Unfortunately, IMHO, audiences were ready to eat up Spielberg's cute cuddly alien but weren't ready for John Carpenter's coolly disgusting shape changing fellow traveler to eat THEM, and it flopped. Appreciation for JC's The Thing, like that for Blade Runner (released the same day as I recall), would come later. JC's TT was a movie with a real Lovecraftian feel. The Exorcist was released back in a time when the studios would first play a movie in palatial city theaters before moving it into suburban showings. Big movies in those days didn't open in "3000 multiplexes nationwide." It was a sign of the film's prestige. That system was disappearing even then, as suburban (read white) audiences had become reluctant to go into the cities at night. Then, about a year and a half later, Jaws, the first blockbuster, killed it forever. Seriously, these were all "big" movies. Re:ATMoM-#4, you 're right. This story hardly even mentions Cthulhu. To say they "discover the cthulhu (lower case?) monster up (up? Isn't this the southern polar regions?) in Antarctica" is a disservice to the story and to Lovecraft, and is misleading to potential audiences. I am a MAJOR HPL aficionado and scholar. Alex, please check your sources. Someday, somebody with vision and who is "brave" (del Toro's term) will make a terrific big budget film of an HPL Cthulhu Mythos story. There hasn't been one yet. Meanwhile, studios spend $175,000,000 to make Transformers movies.
zubzwank on Jun 5, 2010
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