Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Compromise Idea for "At The Mountains of Madness"

I was looking over my Twitter feed this morning and found the following link:

Guillermo Del Toro Will Try To Make AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS Again

For those of you who are not up on Lovecraftian lore, At the Mountains of Madness tells the tale of a scientific expedition to an Antarctica that encounters horrors from beyond Earth. Del Toro has been trying to adapt the story into a film since at least 2006, but ran into problems with the studios due to there not being a love story or a happy ending and later due to him wanting to make it R-rated and the studio wanting it PG-13. The latter seems to be the primary problem right now.

Here's an idea that I'm sure has been discussed behind closed doors but nobody has mentioned it publicly. How about a PG-13 theatrical release and an R-rated (or even unrated) director's cut for the DVD? I'm assuming the studios want a PG-13 rating because the less restrictive the rating, the more likely the movie is to make money and the studios' primary responsibility is to sell a product. Although the hard-core fans will no doubt complain, they can always buy the more "authentic" DVD later, making the studio even more money.

Although I can understand why Del Toro wants it R-rated as opposed to PG-13, one can have a more family-friendly product without compromising one's artistic vision. The Lord of the Rings movies were PG-13 and they were incredibly violent--it's just they had no profanity or sex/nudity. Since At The Mountains of Madness lacks a love story, that largely eliminates the nudity/sexual content issue and given how the story is of a university expedition in the 1920s/1930s (a more educated group of people in a more generally polite time), one can reduce or eliminate the profanity entirely.

(I haven't read the actual novella so I don't know if there's even any swearing in the book to start with.)

You also don't have to wallow in gore to have horror. I've only seen one Alfred Hitchcock movie (Dial M for Murder), but I've heard that a lot of his materials is really suspenseful or frightening. And these movies were made in a time when there were formal restrictions on movie content and greater cultural opposition to more extreme depictions of violence, sex, etc. And although the Lord of the Rings movies have plenty of violence, there's not a lot of blood. For At The Mountains of Madness, maybe they could depict the characters' horrified reactions to finding members of the expedition dead rather than (long) depictions of actual mutilated bodies? That might even be scarier, since the audience might imagine something even worse than what Del Toro could put on-screen. The dismembered corpses can be saved for the director's cut.

Del Toro might not even need to cut a lot of content to make At The Mountains of Madness PG-13, considering how in recent years, the PG-13 rating has gotten rather stretched.


  1. Isn't the belief that an R-rated film won't make a lot of money sort of ridiculous anyway? Look at Ted. It had a budget of 50-65 million and made over $500 million.

  2. I didn't say R movies *didn't* make lots of money, but more family-friendly movies did better in general, at least according to that particular source.

    (I've heard the claim elsewhere, but that was the first article I found.)

    One movie is an anecdote. You'd need multiple movies in order to confirm any trend.

    And even if you're ultimately right, Del Toro needs the studio's funding and resources and if they have the gold, they make the rules. My suggestion is that he be more willing to compromise, since a PG-13 version isn't necessarily going to suck.