Once upon a time, Guillermo del Toro was going to make a monster movie. Not that monster movie, or that other monster movie, but an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. It had powerful names attached (James Cameron as producer, Tom Cruise… as star?) and was a passion project of del Toro’s—one he still talks about making.
Yesterday, del Toro shared twenty-five seconds of test footage from the film on Instagram, casually, like it was no big deal that ILM had made this fully animated tentacle monster back in the day.
Here’s the clip:
As the first commenter asks, “Guillermo are you gonna casually drop this like it’s not HUGE,” which it could be! Or it could just be a fun thing he wanted to share in the run-up to his new Pinocchio, though to be fair those are two projects that don’t exactly seem to go hand in hand. One reported problem with At the Mountains of Madness was the rating; at one point, del Toro reached a compromise with the studio that it would be a PG-13 film (very expensive R-rated films being generally frowned upon). But does Lovecraft seem very PG-13 to you?
In 2012, del Toro took to his website to explain that another problem with Mountains was, in a word, Prometheus. The post is now gone, but io9 quoted the director’s worries: He was concerned about similarities, and said in a comment, “Same premise. Scenes that would be almost identical.”
But last year, he said in a podcast interview that he might still make Mountains of Madness, but make it “weirder,” and also maybe a little cheaper.
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.
What any of this has to do with del Toro’s decision to share test footage is pure, unbridled speculation, but the movie does seem to keep coming up. Perhaps shoggoths and six-foot penguins are still in our cinematic future.