Guillermo del Toro surprised fans when he released a peek at his canceled adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness on his Instagram account.
The 25 second clip, produced by Industrial Light and Magic, shows a sample of the pre-visualized CGI work that was done for the movie. In it, we see a terrifying, tentacled creature creeping towards an unnamed explorer. The explorer reaches for a nearby shotgun, but the creature is quicker, dragging him away as the clip abruptly ends.
It's a tantalizing look at what could have been, as the Oscar-winning director was reportedly close to beginning filming in 2011 for Universal. The project was ultimately scrapped by the studio, citing an R-rating and a $150 million budget. Shortly after, del Toro went on to direct Pacific Rim for Warner Bros.
Written in 1931, the story for At The Mountains of Madness features even more horrifying creatures as it follows a doomed expedition to Antarctica. Told from the perspective of Dr. William Dyer, it's meant as a warning for anyone intrigued in exploring the then somewhat mysterious continent as they would likely encounter monsters and the ruins of a long-lost civilization.
Del Toro is a long time H.P. Lovecraft fan, and the horror author's influence can be seen in the filmmaker;s work, particularly in his creature design. Some speculate that the monster seen in the clip is one of the more famous creatures from the novel, Shoggoth, who is related to the Cthulhu legends also made famous by Lovecraft.
Watch the unearthed look below.
In December 2021, del Toro discussed the abandoned project on The Kingcast podcast, where he spoke about his multi-project deal with Netflix which could give him the opportunity to dust off some shelved works.
"Take a wild guess which were the first projects I presented," del Toro said at the time. "I went through the cupboards and found [The Count of] Monte Cristo, [At the] Mountains of Madness. Those were a couple of the ones I presented first. 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. Not only to scale it down somehow, but because, back then, I was trying to bridge the scale of it with elements that made it somewhat be able to go through the studio machinery."
Whether anything comes of those comments remains to be seen, but the filmmaker still had a chance to adapt some of Lovecraft’s work thanks to his partnership with Netflix. His new anthology series, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, features two Lovecraft adaptations, "Pickman’s Model," directed by Keith Thomas, and "Dreams in the Witch House," directed by Catherine Hardwicke. As well as hosting the episode introductions, del Toro serves as an executive producer on the series.
Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities now streaming on Netflix.