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Guillermo del Toro shares Carpenter-esque CGI test from unmade 'At the Mountains of Madness' film
Try not to lose your sanity in the face of this forbidden knowledge.
Of all the unmade projects in Hollywood lore, Guillermo del Toro's At the Mountains of Madness ranks among the most infamous. For decades, the Oscar winning filmmaker behind Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth has tried (and failed) to adapt the hallowed tale of cosmic horror. Unfortunately, not even the promise of James Cameron producing and Tom Cruise starring were enough to convince the entertainment industry to risk hundreds of millions of dollars on an R-rated horror movie.
As Mike Flanagan and his producing partner, Trevor Macy, told SYFY WIRE at New York Comic Con last month, major studios are just too skittish to tackle the vague, undefined, and nihilistic terrors cooked up by H.P. Lovecraft. But with so much good will following The Shape of Water's Best Picture victory several years ago, del Toro may finally get the opportunity to delve headfirst into the sanity-snapping story of a scientific expedition that discovers the crumbling ruins of an alien civilization in the frigid Antarctic wasteland.
Posting on his Instagram account this week, the celebrated storyteller provided fans a brief glimpse into his cinematic white whale via a never-before-seen CGI test for At the Mountains of Madness. The 25-second clip shows a man in an icy cave (a man, we might add, who kind of recalls Kurt Russell's R.J. MacReady) attacked by a tentacled and shape-shifting monster that wouldn't feel the slightest bit out of place in John Carpenter's The Thing.
After all, many consider Lovecraft to be one of the core inspirations — intentional or not — behind the 1982 sci-fi horror classic. The script del Toro penned with Matthew Robbins (Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Crimson Peak) definitely carries Carpenter and Bottin-esque overtones, most likely in an effort to placate the studio by giving the film a broader appeal. If the project were to be made today, however, del Toro would completely overhaul the story for a more faithful translation that leans into the utter strangeness of the Cthulhu Mythos.
"The thing with Mountains is, the screenplay I co-wrote 15 years ago is not the screenplay I would do now, so I need to do a rewrite," he said last December. "Not only to scale it down somehow, but because back then I was trying to bridge the scale of it with elements that would make it go through the studio machinery... I don't think I need to reconcile that anymore. I can go to a far more esoteric, weirder, smaller version of it. You know, where I can go back to some of the scenes that were left out. Some of the big set pieces I designed, for example, I have no appetite for. Like, I've already done this or that giant set piece. I feel like going into a weirder direction."
The director's next feature, a stop-motion translation of Pinocchio, is currently enjoying a limited theatrical run (for Academy Award consideration) before it arrives on Netflix Friday, Dec. 9. Helmed in partnership with Mark Gustafson (Fantastic Mr. Fox), the film currently holds a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes. Over the Garden Wall creator Patrick McHale co-wrote the screenplay with del Toro.
Should you find yourself in the market for a heaping dose of Lovecraftian angst, then check out del Toro's horror anthology, Cabinet of Curiosities — all eight episodes of which are now streaming on Netflix.