The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries! Today, we’re looking at one of the great unmade projects in the annals of horror…
Guillermo del Toro has more than dabbled in horror over the years. In addition to his career kicking off by helming Cronos, Mimic, and The Devil’s Backbone, he’s produced plenty of others. Even on the small screen, he was a focal point in The Stain and is obviously intimately involved in Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. So, it makes it all the more interesting that for the longest time, del Toro’s great white whale of horror movies was adapting H. P. Lovecraft‘s At the Mountains of Madness. For this piece, I’m getting a bit into why it’s such a shame that his original version never saw the light of day.
At the Mountains of Madness is as per Wikipedia, “The story details the events of a disastrous expedition to Antarctica in September 1930, and what is found there by a group of explorers led by the narrator, Dr. William Dyer of Miskatonic University. Throughout the story, Dyer details a series of previously untold events in the hope of deterring another group of explorers who wish to return to the continent. These events include the discovery of an ancient civilization older than the human race, and realization of Earth’s past told through various sculptures and murals.”
Along with Matthew Robbins, del Toro wrote a script back in 2006 he intended to direct, but Warner Bros. never gave him the green light, arguing over the budget and an R rating. By 2010, things seemed promising, with a 3D addition, James Cameron on to produce, Universal Studios footing the bill, and Tom Cruise ready to star. Then, the same PG-13 vs R debate continued, with Universal eventually pulling the plug. Things have been dormant since, but del Toro has said he still pitches it from time to time.
Recently, I was at a dinner event with del Toro, celebrating his Netflix stop motion animated effort Pinocchio, and we were seated across from each other. Over the course of the evening, we talked about a lot, even his video game affection (including some wild plans he and Hideo Kojima had for Silent Hills, which only got as far as the demo P.T.). Interestingly, At the Mountains of Madness did come up, with del Toro expressing a bit of frustration still that he was told, among other things, that Cruise meant nothing, in terms of bankability. Imagine that?
Now, there’s a chance that he actually does make the film, albeit in a new form. He’s been talking about, post Pinocchio, perhaps altering At the Mountains of Madness and doing it stop motion style as well. That would certainly be something, arguably allowing del Toro to get even weirder with an already out there idea. As for what’s actually next, he’s working on something secretive that involves monsters, so maybe that will be horror, regardless? It won’t be At the Mountains of Madness, which genre fans have long been longing for, but it’s something.
All in all, this film always faced an uphill battle to get made, but it seemed like del Toro was always the filmmaker to do it. However, the money was never there to get it done. Whether it’s with stop motion animation or live action, his fans would be delighted if someone ever ponies up the cash. I sometimes run hot or cold on del Toro, but this project has always been one that fascinated me. If done right, it could be such a great mix of heady horror and visceral visuals that the genre always can use more of.
Will we ever see At the Mountains of Madness? I’m inclined to think that we won’t, but anything is possible. After all, he still wasn’t given the go ahead after picking up Oscars for The Shape of Water. Maybe his new partnership with Netflix will bear fruit for the flick, but for now, it remains one of the great unmade horror works of the time…
Stay tuned for another Sunday Scaries installment next weekend!