Guillermo Del Toro brings haunted house movie ‘Scarlet Peak’ back to life

Guillermo Del Toro’s building a haunted house, and I can’t wait to move in.

One of the most fertile collaborations of Guillermo’s entire career is the work he’s done with Matthew Robbins as co-screenwriters.  There is something perversely funny about the notion that “Mimic” is the one thing that they co-wrote that has made it to the screen so far, because that is the least of the work they’ve done as a team.  They wrote a script called “Montecristo” that is a dark, wicked retelling of “The Count Of Monte Cristo” that floored me when I first read it, and their adaptation of “At The Mountains Of Madness” is a veritable master’s class of how to create a sense of creeping dread on the page.

If you’re unfamiliar with Robbins, he’s been around for a while.  He wrote with Hal Barwood for a while in the ’70s on films like “The Sugarland Express” and “Close Encounters,” and he wrote and directed “Corvette Summer,” “The Legend Of Billie Jean,” “*batteries not included,” and his best film, “Dragonslayer.”  He and Guillermo have a great chemistry on the page, and anytime they set up a new project, it is an exciting prospect.

In this case, Legendary Pictures is picking up a project in turnaround from Universal, who may still end up co-funding the film, and it looks like “Crimson Peak” may well be the next film Guillermo directs, with hopes that they’ll kick off production in early 2014.  In the meantime, Lucinda Coxon is going to take a run at the script with input from Del Toro.  I reached out to him today to ask for a little context, and here’s what he said:

We wrote it “hush-hush” as a spec in and around 2006.  Universal acquired it by a big spec sum. It was to be my “next”  and then HELLBOY came through and then HOBBIT.   I have been keeping it close to my heart and vest and, fortunately, the interwebs never quite spoke about it.  But when I came out of Hobbit and said I was intending to resurrect a project of yore this and Montecristo were alongside with ATMOM the things I pushed for.

I hope that at some point, “Montecristo” ends up getting made, and of course I’m still praying someone gives them the money to make “At The Mountains Of Madness,” but knowing that Guillermo plans to make a Gothic haunted house movie in the near future is more than enough to excite me.  And the best thing about this entire story is that Guillermo is obviously having a great experience with Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, and the other fine folks at Legendary Pictures.  I would love for this to finally be the deep-pocketed home he has needed his whole career.

In the meantime, of course, he’s got “Pacific Rim” coming out next summer, and his animated take on “Pinocchio,” also co-written with Robbins, is in production as well.