“Wise men told him his simple fancies were inane and childish, and even more absurd because their actors persist in fancying them full of meaning and purpose as the blind cosmos grinds aimlessly on from nothing to something and from something back to nothing again…” -H.P. Lovecraft
It doesn’t take long to see the effect that H.P. Lovecraft, whose birthday is today, has had on the horror movie genre, from silent films like Call of Cthulhu to directors like Stuart Gordon to John Carpenter, who both loosely adapt his work and pay homage to the larger, darker themes in his stories, respectively. Looking at the films of groundbreaking horror icon Guillermo del Toro, however, you can see echoes of him everywhere — from the vampires in Blade II, the massive kaiju in Pacific Rim, to the Pale Man in Pan’s Labyrinth, Lovecraft’s profound influence is obvious.
While del Toro has proven that that influence goes beyond a stylistic nod, we’ve talked before about the very un-Hollywood like structure to Lovecraft’s stories, making proper adaptations seemingly impossible. Having long been deemed impossible to film, not only given the cost of filming a period piece set in the Antarctic in the 1930s, but because of what would be required to make The Elder Things convincing beyond state-of-the-art special effects. Lovecraft’s creatures are horrifying to the point that the human mind cannot comprehend them, which obviously makes a big screen translation seem difficult, to say the least.
Of course, del Toro’s desire to make Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness into a movie has become the very definition of a passion project, a project he’s carried with him for the better part of a decade since co-writing a script with Matthew Robbins in 2006. Warner Bros. was the first studio to pass on the mega-budget horror movie even though Tom Cruise was del Toro’s front-runner for the lead with James McAvoy and Chris Pike also being discussed. While the star power seemed to legitimize the project’s chances, the big win was having James Cameron’s name attached as a producer.