One of my favorite writers of all time is H.P. Lovecraft, and my favorite of his works is At the Mountains of Madness. I love it and everything about it. Hell, the wallpaper on my phone is someone on the Internet’s homemade badge for team members on the Miskatonic University Antarctic Expedition. In an annotated Lovecraft collection I’ve got somewhere or another there are countless fascinating notes about how the story came to be written, and why, and what personal passions and fandom drove Lovecraft to generate a novella about Antarctica. In the same way space in general was the most fertile field of imagination throughout the 20th century, and specifically in the same way that Mars – by virtue of being the leading edge of our ability to do detailed discovery – has been a huge setting for the last ten years or so, Antarctica was this mysterious place full of countless potential secrets at the turn of the 20th century.
It is with a tremendous sadness that I see that Guillermo del Toro’s attempt to produce a big-budget adaptation of it, appears to be dead in the water for now:
After three months of deliberation, Universal Pictures, the studio that gave del Toro money for pre-production creature designs, has remained unwilling to give the director a greenlight, citing concerns over the film’s budget and likely R rating. On Monday, del Toro withdrew from the negotiations
Universal has produced some amazing science fiction films over time, and a lot of them have been flops at the box office only to be recognized, later, as having been truly visionary. Would this have wound up the same way? Maybe so, maybe not. Either way, I would have loved it. My friend Brian once pointed out that the thing that had him most excited about the adaptation was the possibility of Burger King cups with Deep Ones on the side. I mean, honestly, does it get anymore “crawling horror” than that?
I’m not wholly discouraged, though. What is the ultimate lesson of the Lovecraft story itself, after all, if not that we remember that those horrors that lie deepest for the longest time are the most to be feared? What freezes in obscurity may yet return to the world of the living, from time to time, if the right parties with the right determination insist on intruding on their slumber.