Hollywood Gothique
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Will Del Toro scale the Mountains of Madness?

Guillermo Del Toro is earning lots of critical praise for his latest flick PAN’S LABYRINTH. Probably his next film will be HELL BOY 2. And after that…could he be taking on AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS?

LatinoReview.Com has a “review” of the script that Del Toro and Matthew Robbins have adapted from the H.P. Lovecraft novel. The review gives the screenplay an A+, calls it a “Complete Miracle,” and lavishes numerous other superlatives, without getting into too many specifics about what exactly is so great about it.

There is also a relatively spoiler-free summary of the first act, which (sad to say) seems to have little to do with the orginal text. I’ve been wanting to see a big-screen adaptation of this novel for a long time, so I hope the actual screenplay is more faithful to the source material, which is one of Lovecraft’s best stories – and one that (unlike RE-ANIMATOR) truly has the epic scope to work as a feature film without lots new material supplied by the screenwriters.

Hopefully, Del Toro can retain the basic gist of the work, which was one of Lovecraft’s later tales, when he was moving away from pure horror toward science-fiction. Yes, there is plenty to fear in novel’s trek through the frozen wastes of the Antarctic, where the remnants of a prehistoric, alien civilization are discovered amidst the titular mountain range – along with a few frozen specimens that thaw out.

But what really gives the story its kick are two elements: 1) ultimately, the aliens are sympathetic despite their ugly appearance (think of the Horla in the STAR TREK episode “Devil in the Dark”); 2) the novel suggests (without completely spelling out) a synthesis elements that recur throughout Lovecraft’s stories. Popularly called the “Cthulhu Mythos,” these elements suggest a disturbing view of the universe, in which Earth and mankind are put a cosmic speck, who can hope for (at most) to be ignored by malevolent forces far more powerful that rule the cosmos.

In short, the novel works on the level of implanting a scary idea in your head – not the kind of thing at which cinema (which likes to show things) necessarily excells. Still, if anyone can pull this off, it’s Del Toro.