Guillermo Del Toro Shared Test Footage From His Unmade At The Mountains Of Madness Project A Decade Ago

One of the most frustrating never-made movies of all time is Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of HP Lovecraft's immortal "At the Mountains of Madness," an epic horror story that has almost singlehandedly kept Lovecraft's particularly disturbing brand of tentacled terror in the public consciousness since its original publication in 1936.

It is the tale of a group of explorers who uncover some horrible artifacts and creatures in Antarctica that might or might not prove that humanity is but the insect-like byproduct of the real inhabitants of this planet, all who serve the massive Eldritch Horror Old God Cthulhu. So much of del Toro's work has been impacted by Lovecraft that it only made sense for him to direct the author's most famous story. And boy, if he had made it, it would have been something really special.

In the mid-2000s he was developing the movie as a massive $150 million R-rated spectacle for Universal with James Cameron producing and Tom Cruise starring. We already knew the world lost out on something cool when that project died on the vine, but now del Toro is making the heartache even more potent as he released a never-before-seen CGI test that ILM did while they were prepping the movie. 

Never-before-seen footage from At The Mountains Of Madness

What he released was a 25-second clip of a wholly 3D animated sequence that was made as a test to show how he'd bring Lovecraft's creatures to life. The movie itself would have been live-action, this is just a test to show what ILM could do with the VFX on the creatures:

If I had to guess, I'd say the creature featured is a Shoggoth. Lovecraft describes these as more squid and jellyfish-like. They're amorphous masses with dozens of eyes, so maybe this is a whole new creature or perhaps del Toro's own interpretation. Or, probably most likely, this is ILM just proving they can make photo-real tentacled monstrosities.

There may still be hope for his adaptation

Either way, it's badass and I deeply hope Guillermo del Toro gets to make his dream project a reality someday. And he just might.

Back when he tried to make it via the studio system, the idea of a $150 million R-rated movie was absurd, but now things like "Deadpool" can make PG-13 blockbuster money, so perhaps a studio might be more willing to finance a film like this. We're also in the streaming age where box office returns aren't as important as content that draws lots of eyeballs.

When del Toro was on my podcast, The Kingcast, last year he talked about how he wants to rewrite his original script to be done a little cheaper and a lot weirder and the plan was to pitch it to Netflix. He has "Pinocchio" coming out very soon with the streamer and his "Cabinet of Curiosities" show has gotten rave reviews from genre fans. 

Man, he should just show them the above test footage. I know if I had the money and clout to cut a big check to make this movie happen I would. Maybe the next time the Powerball hits $2 billion...

As an interesting aside, he told me on that podcast appearance that he continues to wear a Miskatonic University ring and will do so until he gets to make his adaptation. That's how committed he is to making this thing happen. So, someone with deep pockets better step up! The time is now!