nightmare alley update

When word came out back in 2017 that Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro was working on a remake of an old noir film called Nightmare Alley, I thought the same thing I always think when a new del Toro project pops up: I’ll believe it when I see it. I love most of his movies, but so many of his projects end up floundering that it’s hard to get too excited until something concrete starts to form.

But Nightmare Alley is moving forward, and he recently hired a spectacular cast that’s going to be led by Bradley Cooper. And in a new interview, del Toro has given a few more details about his remake, including its intended rating and the fact that there will be no supernatural elements at all. Read his comments below.

Speaking with Collider, del Toro was asked if he could tease anything about the project, and he answered enthusiastically:

“Well what it is is that book was given to me in 1992 by Ron Perlman before I saw the Tyrone Power movie, and I loved the book. My adaptation that I’ve done with [co-writer] Kim Morgan is not necessarily — the entire book is impossible, it’s a saga. But there are elements that are darker in the book, and it’s the first chance I have — in my short films, I wanted to do noir. It was horror and noir. And now is the first chance I have to do a real ‘underbelly of society’ type of movie. [There are] no supernatural elements. Just a straight, really dark story.”

Even though del Toro is best known for his supernatural projects and his love of monsters, I’m excited to see him explore the monstrous side of humanity in a dark noir film. Nightmare Alley is based on William Lindsay Gresham 1946 novel, and you can read the description of the book below:

Nightmare Alley begins with an extraordinary description of a freak-show geek—alcoholic and abject and the object of the voyeuristic crowd’s gleeful disgust and derision—going about his work at a county fair. Young Stan Carlisle is working as a carny, and he wonders how a man could fall so low. There’s no way in hell, he vows, that anything like that will ever happen to him.

And since Stan is clever and ambitious and not without a useful streak of ruthlessness, soon enough he’s going places. Onstage he plays the mentalist with a cute bimbo (before long his harried wife), then he graduates to full-blown spiritualist, catering to the needs of the rich and gullible in their well-upholstered homes. It looks like the world is Stan’s for the taking. At least for now.

Cooper replaced Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Stan, and he’ll be joined by Toni Collette, Cate Blanchett, Rooney MaraRichard Jenkins, Willem Dafoe, and Michael Shannon. Oh, and del Toro’s old pal Ron Perlman is in talks, too, which is only fair, since Perlman gave him the book in the first place. Del Toro scoffed when asked if the film would be rated R, saying “Yes, big R. Like, double R!”

Here’s the trailer for the 1947 adaptation starring Tyrone Power:

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