Director Guillermo del Toro’s on again, off again adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness looks like it has a production start date of July 2011.
The story deals with an Antarctic expedition that discovers the ruins of an ice-covered, ancient city where they awaken a prehistoric, alien civilization.
Having read del Toro’s script adaptation, I found it to be spot on with Lovecraft’s book, though a new version includes not only much more character backstory, but also has several of the crew converting into the “Elder Things” as the rest of the expedition fights them off – with William Dyer as the sole survivor, left to tell of the ill-fated expedition.
The script now reads more like a version of John W. Campbell’s novella, “Who Goes There?” which was the basis for the 1952 Howard Hawks classic, The Thing From Another World and John Carpenter’s, 1982 version: The Thing.
With del Toro’s touch, I’m sure he’ll deliver the goods, visually. He has this William Cameron Menzies vision that draws audiences into his work, but will this new revelation in the story harm or help it? After all, there have been two cinematic versions of The Thing and now a prequel movie is going to be released next year. Do we need another variation of Campbell’s work – instead of sticking to Lovecraft’s book?
Granted, Lovecraft stories are unusual to begin with and there is a lack of a damsel-in-distress being rescued by the dashing hero while battling the monster as the creature squeals, “Spa Fon!” or “Squa Tront!” But they are entertaining, especially when the “Stars Are Right” in his world.
Hopefully, At the Mountain of Madness will stay set in the 1930s and not be updated to present-day as is rumored. It has this surreal world of yesteryear that gives it its charm.
For fans of Lovecraft’s work, the H.P. Lovecraft Society produced a faithful adaptation of Madness (which includes dynamic sound effects) as a radio program that’s available on CD, as well as a 2005 black and white silent film of the “Call of Cthulu” on DVD, which runs 47 minutes, has lots of extras, and is quite impressive.
A sequel to At the Mouth of Madness was written by Tim Curen entitled, “The Hive”, in which Dyer returns to the Antarctic world with a second expedition, unearthing the “Elder Things” once again and traveling via submarine into their polar icecap lair.
Guillermo del Toro’s version of At the Mountain of Madness is slated to be released some time in 2013.