Guillermo del Toro Describes At the Mountains of Madness

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The New Yorker has published an extensive piece on Guillermo del Toro written by Daniel Zalewski and culled from several hands-on interactions and interviews spread over the past several years. An impressive piece of work for fans of the artist, the article also touches on a number of projects that will hopefully soon see the light of day, including At the Mountains of Madness and Frankenstein.

In addition to comments from del Toro, the piece features Zalewski’s own descriptions of maquettes and production sketches at various stages of development.

“In accordance with Mary Shelley’s description,” he writes about one of the Frankenstein designs, ” the head appeared to have been stolen from a cadaver: there was exposed sinew around the jaw, and the cheekbones looked ready to poke through the scrim of flesh. Most appallingly, the Creature lacked a nose; a single bridge bone protruded over an oval breathing hole. Torres had been etching deep furrows into the Creature’s forehead, and shaved bits of clay were scattered on his desk, like clippings on a barbershop floor.”

Likewise, Zalewski was witness to test footage for the as-of-yet-not-greenlit H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, At the Mountains of Madness. Among many descriptions of the evolving creature design is the following excerpt:

The Shoggoths had a racecar sheen. “They are pristine,” he said. “They are functional. They are not asymmetric. Symmetry is efficiency. And these guys need to be efficient.” He wasn’t sure yet if the Shoggoth palette should be “pearlescent” or “circulatory”—reds and blues. 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.

The piece also includes del Toro’s thoughts on what would have appeared in his version of The Hobbit, right down to a detailed description of the dragon, Smaug (though he does note that the look of Smaug is one of the areas where he and Peter Jackson tended to disagree).

Click here to read the full piece at The New Yorker.