- 31 July 2010
- By Gerard Wood
Since Guillermo Del Toro abdicated from the Director’s throne on The Hobbit movies, there's been endless speculation about what his next project will be. Del Toro is linked to an almost obscene number of tantalising projects, including Frankenstein, At the Mountains of Madness, Dan Simmons’ Drood, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Slaughterhouse-Five, Death: The High Cost of Living and, of course, Hellboy 3, anyone one of which would be a must-see.
Well, Mike Fleming over at Deadline apparently has the answer and is reporting that Del Toro’s next project will be that long discussed adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. If it’s true, this is great news. At the Mountains of Madness was written late in Lovecraft’s career (1931) and is considered a cornerstone work in his Cthulhu Mythos, providing an ancient historical framework for his stories about the Elder Things and their terrifying servants, the Shoggoths. It’s an unnerving story told by geologist William Dyer, professor at Miskatonic University. In an attempt to deter others from making the same mistake, Dyer reluctantly recounts his terrifying experiences on an expedition to an unexplored mountainous region in Antarctica. There he and his team discovered the remains of highly evolved ancient life forms unknown to science, and were almost destroyed to a man by the experience. Dyer and a student, Danforth, travel deep into the mountains where they discover a deserted city, built on a monumental scale and according to an entirely inhuman geometry, and there they come to understand the awesome (fearsome and dreadful) history of the beings who existed long before the advent of mankind.
Of course, the city is not entirely deserted…
Del Toro is ideally, and some might even say uniquely, suited to the task of adapting Lovecraft’s written word for the screen, combining as he does a proven talent as a writer and director with a remarkable passion for Lovecraft’s work and an impressive understanding of the material (check him out discussing Lovecraft’s life, peculiar psychology and even more bizarre fiction in the excellent documentary, Fear of the Unknown). Without these qualities, I’m doubtful whether anyone could successfully bring to the screen the wonder, awe and terror, the dreadful spectacle and the personal psychological shock conveyed through Lovecraft’s written word at its best. And of course Del Toro has already drawn heavily on the Cthulhu Mythos in Hellboy. With his talent for film-making, passion for the project and sensitivity to the material, we’re almost guaranteed a great movie.
But here’s the rub. To say that Deadline is reporting this bit of news might be stretching the facts just a wee bit. It hasn’t actually been confirmed that Del Toro will work on At the Mountains of Madness, Fleming simply deduces that Del Toro will:
“Del Toro was non-committal when I asked him about the prospect of Mountains days ago as we discussed the Comic-Con reaction to Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. But when Del Toro announced at Comic-Con he'd co-write and produce Haunted Mansion, he told the crowd he'd set his next film shortly, and that it would be scary. At the Mountains of Madness fits that bill, even for Del Toro and Universal.”
Personally I hope Fleming is right, but I’m dubious. Four week ago at the Saturn Awards, Del Toro was fairly adamant that adapting At the Mountains of Madness would not be his next project because "It's very difficult for the studios to take the step of doing a period-set, R-rated, tentpole movie with a tough ending and no love story." (I’m still curious about exactly what a tentpole movie is). Of course, a lot can happen in four weeks – maybe he convinced Universal he could pull it off? - and there’s always the possibility that he was simply throwing us all off track until he was ready to make an announcement.
The absence of official confirmation from Del Toro or Universal Pictures doesn’t keep Fleming from juicing up his announcement with some fairly firm statements about the project: apparently it will be shot in 3D, will have James “Master of 3D” Cameron as Producer, and pre-production will commence in the next few weeks, with shooting next summer.
Let’s wait for an official announcement before we get our hopes up too high (I still think Drood could be next in line).
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