At the Mountains of Madness (2013)

10 Jan

Flying over the ruins

The Necronomicon, The Elder Gods, Dagon, Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep. The maddening creations of a tortured mind.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, created the mythos behind these other worldly horrors scratching & clawing to breach our time & dimension. We must not allow these skittering, un-holy terrors purchase into our world! And yet, famed Director Guillermo del Toro is planning to do just that.

“At the Mountains of Madness” is the novella written by H.P. Lovecraft in 1931. Not published in any form until Astounding Stories printed the hellish work in 1936. Regarding the “Cthulhu Mythos”, This novella apparently demythologizes said mythos and appears to explain the origins of Cthulhu and other features as scientific.

Ron Perlman as Larson in At the Mountains of Madness

Ron Perlman as Larson in At the Mountains of Madness Courtesy

For those of us who love Ron Pearlman’s work in Hellboy, (yet another story that smacks of Lovecraft), we will take great pleasure in once again seeing him on-screen.
Although Perlman’s character, Larson, did not appear anywhere in the story, I find myself happy to accept this brazen alteration of Lovecraft’s genius. I do, of course, understand that certain changes or additions must be made to in order to level the playing field. In other words, what may have been acceptable entertainment in the 1930’s, by today’s standards would seem very tame indeed.

According to an unknown source from IMDB, the storyline for “At the Mountains of Madness” is as follows in this short paragraph.

“A group of scientists and archaeologists travel to Antarctica on an expedition. There they stumble upon the ancient relics of an abandoned city hitherto completely unknown to mankind and uncover a prehistoric species that is awakened only to wreak havoc on their victims.”

There is some speculation from some that say Del Toro intends to set the scene in the NORTH pole instead. I cannot subscribe this line of thinking, Lovecraft chose the southernmost pole of the earth because even at that time it was still considered mysterious and unchecked.
I for one am looking forward to this, regardless of what is to be some literary butchering in the name of modern entertainment.

I welcome your comments, complaints, and, indeed, your questions about this exciting endeavour. And be sure to check back often, I shall be updating this post as the information is made available to me.

Cheers, Nyrhalahotep

(NOT to be mistaken for “the Crawling Chaos”).

This just in from a lengthy article in the New Yorker!

The Mountains of Madness monsters

(The Shoggoth and The Old Ones) could be the most complex del Toro designs to date.

Just the explanation for the Shoggoth creatures in GDT’s next film have us scratching our heads. We have no idea how he will execute this.

“Let’s say that creature A turns into creature A-B, then turns into creature B, then turns into creature B-C. And by the time it lands on a guy it’s creature E.” He discussed one grisly Shoggoth transformation: “It’s like when you grab a sock and you pull it inside out. From his mouth, he extrudes himself.”

And that’s not all the director goes into great detail about “abandoned coral reef” world he’s building for the monsters in which the Old Ones will “torpedo through tubes” to get from one area to another.

“A coral reef is a shitload of skeletons fused together, right? All the technology those creatures have, all their technology is organic. You and I use metals, plastics. These creatures don’t have weapons or chisels. They create other creatures as tools.”

In the early stages GDT referred to the The Old Ones as “cucumbers with wings,” but later on the author got a much better look at the concept designs for the beasts which will open up like a “Swiss Army Knife” revealing wings and tentacles.

The oceanic motif was particularly evident in the design of the Old Ones. Del Toro’s enthusiasm for the lionfish had endured, and the aliens’ wings echoed their flamboyant fins. In motion, he explained, the Old Ones would appear buoyant-“unbound by gravity.” As the camera tracked them caroming around the city, the viewer would feel disoriented, like a panicked scuba diver inside a cave.

But bringing to life H.P. Lovecraft’s Shoggoth is much more complicated.

Since the Shoggoths could mutate into anything, there was no fixed silhouette, but many would feature a “protoplasmic bowl,” an abdomen-like area from which new forms could sprout. One maquette was a disorienting twist on classic Lovecraftian form. It looked like a giant octopus head with tentacles jutting from the top and the bottom-a fearful symmetry. “That’s my belly in the middle,” del Toro joked. In another maquette, the Shoggoth had sprouted two heads, each extending from brontosaurus-like necks. Their skulls could be smashed together to destroy victims. “The idea is to create craniums that function as jaws,” he said. The Shoggoths would often create ghastly parodies of human forms; as they pursued the humans, they would imitate them, imperfectly.


Posted by on January 10, 2011 in H.P. Lovecraft, Horror, Sci Fi


Tags: , , , , , ,

8 responses to “At the Mountains of Madness (2013)

  1. Awix

    January 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I’m following the gestation of this movie with some interest.

    My concern with it (beyond the usual hacking about that classic literature tends to go through en route to the screen) is that this is one of those cases where other movies based on this story have already been made, so to some people this one may look like a rip-off when it eventually appears.

    You know, the way that the ‘family of superheroes’ idea in the Fantastic Four comic made it to the screen first in The Incredibles ( the ‘superhero ban’ from Watchmen, too, come to think of it) – so when the Fantastic Four and Watchmen movies actually got made, the shine was off them.

    In the same way the ‘aliens buried in the ice/hidden city at the pole’ concepts have already been done to death, most obviously in The Thing and Alien vs Predator.

    I must confess I have visions of the movie climaxing with Ron Perlman having a fist-fight with a shoggoth… HPL didn’t really do a conventional three-act structure…

  2. Nyrhalahotep

    January 10, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you for the great comments!
    I’m afraid I must concur, however, I can happily announce that those who will inevitably attempt to show their ignorance by saying the film “has been done” or “this is not original” that no, in actuallity, everything up to this point was un-original. “At the Mountains of Madness” was penned in 1931. “The Thing”, (1982) having been a re-make of “The Thing from Another World”. (1952) So which work of fiction is truly un-original?

    Of course, this is giving liberties to say that people will research the subject before “looking before they leap” and trying to argue symantics. I rest assured that this will not happen. 😉

  3. Awix

    January 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I had the ‘which came first’ discussion re: Mountains/Who Goes There a while ago and I think Lovecraft beat Campbell to it by a couple of years even though the two were published around the same time.

    They say there are only seven different stories, anyway, the rest is just shuffling the furniture and repainting… 🙂

  4. Nyrhalahotep

    January 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Well said! I greatly appreciate your comments, I welcome them all!

  5. cthulhuwho1

    January 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    As a fan of Lovecraft and del Toro, I’m going to enjoy the film no matter how far it is twisted away from the original novella. The 3D film that comes out of the Lovecraft-inspired imagination of Guillermo del Toro, with the backing of James Cameron, will be the best, and most expensive, Lovecraft based film we will ever see. Period. Everything made after this, will be a pale imitation, just trying to ride on the popularity wave of ATMOM; but yes, I’ll still enjoy them anyway too…

    Have you listened to the complete reading of Lovecraft’s original “At the Mountains of Madness” read by William Hart at It’s another way to prepare yourself for the film!

  6. Nyrhalahotep

    January 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    cthulhuwho1 I’ll check that out! As far as mood music to read Lovecraft, nothing compares to
    AMAZING music! Be sure to check them out on Twitter as well, @NoxArcana

    Cheers, Bryan

  7. James Riot

    January 21, 2011 at 5:42 am

    I trust Del Toro, I really do. He’s a big Lovecraft fan, and I think he’ll do his best to keep Hollywood from mucking this up too much. I kind of hope he does his best to keep HIMSELF from mucking it up, too. Del Toro has shown a tendency in the past (*coughcoughHellboy2coughcough*) to try and throw too much comedy into something he loves. He’s also tried too hard to cram too much into the span of one film. He’s one of those directors whose acclaim and cult-favorite status have given him a certain degree of autonomy. That can be good and bad.

    While everything else that’s come out in 3D in the last year made me cringe a bit…3D might be THE way to go with this movie. I’m excited to see non-euclidean angles and the way the mountains are carved as described in the airplane approach in 3D. I think it will help give this enormous, crushing feeling to the cyclopean city that will help make audiences’ imaginations run away with them. Provided it’s done right, and not just an excuse to to have tentacles come whipping at the audience.

    All “I hope this” and “I’m afraid of that…” stuff aside, I’m doing my best to keep any expectations far away (which is hard, since “Mountains” was the first Lovecraft story I ever read).


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