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The Lovecraft Movie Del Toro Nearly Made Before Cabinet Of Curiosities

Years before Cabinet of Curiosities, Guillermo del Toro’s At The Mountains of Madness movie was ready to begin filming. Here’s why it never came.


The Guillermo del Toro H. P. Lovecraft movie At The Mountains of Madness was ready to begin filming but ultimately never got off the ground — here’s why it was canceled. With Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which included two adaptations from influential horror author H.P. Lovecraft, creating such a buzz, now is a better time than ever to look back at other Lovecraft projects the director has attempted, including an At The Mountains of Madness movie. Guillermo del Toro’s movies are known for exploring a different side of monsters and fantastic creatures, both from his own imagination and from different sources, but the Mexican filmmaker is also known for working on too many projects at once and dropping out of most. Here’s why the At The Mountains of Madness del Toro Lovecraft adaptation didn’t happen.

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The director has been attached to a number of different projects, from The Hobbit to Fantastic Voyage, but one that fans were really looking forward to was Guillermo del Toro’s H. P. Lovecraft adaptation of the novella At The Mountains of Madness. The del Toro Lovecraft movie would’ve recounted an expedition to the Antarctic continent in 1930 where a group of explorers discovered ancient ruins and a very dark and dangerous secret linked to them. The “unfilmable” story seemed to be on track to break that belief with del Toro on board as director, but things didn’t go as planned.

Related: Why Guillermo Del Toro Left The Hobbit


Why Guillermo Del Toto’s Mountains Of Madness Movie Didn’t Happen

Back in 2006, Del Toro and Matthew Robbins had a screenplay ready for an At The Mountains of Madness movie, but couldn’t get Warner Bros. to finance the project. According to del Toro, the studio was worried about the cost and the tone of the Lovecraft adaptation, which doesn’t have a happy ending nor a love story of any kind – and it would be insulting to add any of those. The del Toro Lovecraft movie came back to life in 2010 when James Cameron joined as producer and Tom Cruise was set to star. Del Toro then confirmed they would start filming in June 2011, but another studio got in the way.

Now at the home of the most classic monsters, Universal Studios, executives decided not to greenlight the project due to del Toro’s insistence on making an R-rated film rather than a PG-13 one. Del Toro later found a new home for his projects at Legendary Pictures, and with that a new chance to make this film a reality, but with a different approach. Guillermo del Toro said At The Mountains of Madness could now be PG-13 but as horrifying as he could make it, and the budget wouldn’t have changed much. Unfortunately, the change of tone wasn’t enough, and the project was canceled.

With the film industry being more tolerant towards R-rated content in films and even embracing it in some genres, if del Toro decided to go for it one more time, the canceled del Toro movie At The Mountains of Madness could finally have its chance on the big screen, breaking the “unfilmable” curse that is supposed to be upon it. This isn’t the only H.P. Lovecraft adaptation that del Toro has attempted, however, as Cabinet of Curiosities covers several stories by the famed author.

The Lovecraft Stories In Cabinet Of Curiosities

Crispin Glover as Pickman in Pickman's Model

The horror anthology series Cabinet of Curiosities launched on Netflix in October 2022 to very high critical acclaim, as is customary for most of the director’s works. The show features more than one Lovecraft adaptation, and has a 95% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes at time of writing, with notable praise given towards del Toro’s signature style as executive producer of the series. The two Lovecraft stories featured in Cabinet of Curiosities are Pickman’s Model and The Dreams in the Witch House.

Related: Every Guillermo Del Toro Movie Ranked Worst To Best

Pickman’s Model is about a Bostonian painter known for making terrifying creations whose disturbing art may be more rooted in reality than his critics initially suspect. The Dreams in the Witch House follows a student from Miskatonic University, who rents a room at the mysterious “Witch House” in Massachusetts — but the house itself could be cursed. Both of these stories are told in Cabinet of Curiosities to great commendation, proving that Guillermo del Toro iunderstands H. P. Lovecraft and his work. Ultimately, two is better than one, and while At The Mountains of Madness would’ve been a great movie, Cabinet of Curiosities gives a wide enough canvas for del Toro to bring multiple Lovecraft adaptations for eager viewers.

A soldier in a frozen cave looks back in terror at something.

About a month after releasing his take on Pinocchio, Guillermo del Toro finally gave fans a glimpse of what his At the Mountains of Madness movie would have looked like. The director posted a 25-second CGI test made for the film on his Instagram. Despite the clip’s short length, it features a fully realized Lovecraftian horror, unfolding with a multitude of limbs and tendrils and snatching up an Antarctic researcher.

Given Lovecraft’s focus on cosmic horror filled with unspeakable Eldritch entities, it can be tricky to create monster designs that live up to his descriptions. The At the Mountains of Madness test footage shows, however, that del Toro’s talent for unnerving imagery is more than up to the task. It’s currently unknown whether any more test footage was created. While it still seems unlikely that Guillermo del Toro’s At the Mountains of Madness will ever be made, this footage at least gives some idea of how the acclaimed director would have tackled this Lovecraftian horror.

Next: What Is Guillermo Del Toro’s Next Movie?

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