It’s been many years now since Guillermo Del Toro first pitched the film At the Mountains of Madness to Universal. The studio showed great interest in the story, based on the tale by horror master H.P. Lovecraft, about Professor William Dyer, a Geologist from Miskatonic University, who is sent on an expedition to find out what happened to a previous crew who disappeared in the Arctic. Upon arriving he finds they are all dead or missing, and further investigation leads him to find the ruins of an ancient alien race, that defy the laws of man and scientific explanation. Like most of Lovecraft’s stories, At the Mountains of Madness is full of mind bending monsters and scenes of graphic violence that drive his poor characters to the brink of insanity. These elements have made it difficult for film makers to bring his stories to life on the silver screen in a believable way, but Del Toro believed himself a man up to the task, until Universal’s decree that the film would have to be PG-13 if they were to drop the considerable funding to make it. He decided if it couldn’t be done right, it wouldn’t be done at all, and pulled out of the film.
The news that the movie wasn’t going to happen, after considerable hype, was a let down to horror fans everywhere. Now a couple of years and a couple of blockbusters later, Del Toro revealed to The Wall Street Journal that he is still hopeful that the movie can be made. Having long called the story his dream project, he’s in discussions with Legendary Pictures about finally getting it from page to screen, in the interview he stated,”I said to them, that’s the movie that I would really love to do one day, and it’s still expensive, it’s still … I think that now, with the way I’ve seen PG-13 become more and more flexible, I think I could do it PG-13 now, so I’m going to explore it with [Legendary], to be as horrifying as I can, but to not be quite as graphic. There’s basically one or two scenes in the book that people don’t remember that are pretty graphic. Namely, for example, the human autopsy that the aliens do, which is a very shocking moment. But I think I can find ways of doing it. We’ll see. It’s certainly a possibility in the future. Legendary was very close to doing it at one point, so I know they love the screenplay. So, we’ll see. Hopefully it’ll happen. It’s certainly one of the movies I would love to do.”
The story contains horror elements, but no scenes of a sexual nature. In fact, I can’t recall a single female character in the tale, which was written in 1931. H.P. Lovecraft rarely included women in his stories, and if you read biographical information on the man, you can clearly see why. If the script follows the story, it seems that it could easily be done with a PG-13 rating by the MPAA, which usually cares little about blood and gore and only slaps on the dreaded R if graphic sex scenes are involved. So as a horror aficionado I have faith that even with the rating it can be done, and done well. The only reservations being with Del Toro’s choice in leading Actor, Tom Cruise.
With 3 movies in post production, the filming of The Strain and the just announced Pacific Rim 2 in pre-production, it maybe some time before we get to see this film. Rest assured we will keep you posted on all the latest news on At the Mountains of Madness, and all of Guillermo Del Toro’s projects, here at Renegade Cinema.