Guillermo del Toro merges Alien scenario with Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness

leading from

a) Alien derelict ship transforms into spaceship city
Guillermo described the scenario of Alien, the idea of an exploration ship that essentially lands on a planet and in the original draft of the script by Dan O'Bannon,

The crew discover an alien city and in the film instead they find a derelict space ship that was city sized, so he refers to it as a city / space ship.

Inside there would be found the remains of dead denizens with broken chests who were the masters slain by the shape shifting creatures that was the alien, kept in the cargo hold below

  1. Guillero Del Toro: Exactly. And when you read the original draft of Alien they discover an ancient alien city – or in this case a city slash space ship.
    (Source:, October 12, 2011, interview conducted by Ryan Lambie)
  2. Guillermo Del Toro: The closest we ever have got is the opening of Alien, Ridley Scott's Alien, that was entirely Mountains of Madness related to me, because it's an exploration ship, docks in a place, finds this city, in this case a spaceship city and encounters an organism, a mutation, a mutable organism that has killed, has killed its masters and overtakes the humans, so that synopsis would fit Mountains of Madness or Alien. (Del Toro Interview on "At The Mountains of Madness" by Lexgeryon Published on 3 Jan 2011
  3. Guillermo De Toro: The perfect adaption of At The Mountains of Madness, in a way, was the first twenty minutes of Alien. When they first arrive at the ship, and they discover the murdered masters, and the chest is all broken, and they say these were killed by creatures in the cargo bay. And then, of course, the alien is no shoggoth, but in a way even - in the original screenplay - he was supposed to be a shapeshifter. He was supposed to, basically, take on the form of the host. (Lurker in the Lobby: A guide to the cinema of H P Lovecraft, 2006, p210)
  4. DenOfGreek: Giger’s original painting, which ultimately became the alien, was called Necronom IV.
    Guillero Del Toro: Exactly. And when you read the original draft of Alien they discover an ancient alien city – or in this case a city slash space ship. (Source:, October 12, 2011, interview conducted by Ryan Lambie)
  5. Guillermo De Toro: I think there is a huge Lovecraftian influence, and a huge At the Mountains of Madness influence on the first Ridley Scott Alien. The idea of a ship, that . essentially lands on a planet, and they find a derelict, city-sized ship, dead denizens in it
    (Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, a 2008 documentary, 11:11:45)

b)  Space Jockey becomes the elder things while the aiien becomes the shoggoths

Still in the ship there was something that was very much alive and waiting, and takes over the humans.

They discover the life cycle of the creature which is sort of shape shifting.
Del Toro had decided that in the way that the elder things were masters of the Shoggoths from that story, the Space Jockey and its species were the master of the creature that we know of as the alien.
  1. Guillermo Del Toro: and something that is very much alive and waiting and then takes over the humans.  (Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, a 2008 documentary, 11:11:45) 
  2. Guillermo Del Toro: They discover the life cycle of the creature, which is sort of shape-shifting.(Source:, October 12, 2011, interview conducted by Ryan Lambie)

c) Life cycle hieroglyphics mural transforms into the Elder things hieroglyphics mural

In the original Alien script, the explorers even discover a mural that describes how its life cycle works.
Del Toro thought it was very much like what Lovecraft's story which showed pictures on the wall telling the story of the demise of the Elder Things as a race.

  1. Guillero Del Toro:  and they even discover a mural that describes how that life cycle works, which is very much like Lovecraft’s story.(Source:, October 12, 2011, interview conducted by Ryan Lambie)

d) List of transformations

Here is a summary of the things from Alien that he has transformed in his mind:
  • Guillermo del Toro mentally transforms the discovery of a lone pyramid from O'Bannon's original script into the discovery of a city. 
  • The large derelict space ship in the film that's a few hundred feet wide becomes city sized and perhaps even part space ship and part city. 
  • He perceives multiple dead denizens with broken chests instead of simply one which we've come to know of as the Space Jockey with an exploded hole in his chest. 
  • With that, while the alien for O'Bannon was a thing encountered on the planetoid by the alien pilot for the first time and it was just eventually decided by Ridley Scott that it would be part of the space jockey's cargo hold and therefore its war weapon, Del Toro has turned the thing into a slave race like the Shoggoths that has turned against its masters.

e) del Toro's way of thinking

I suppose that del Toro has melted the stories of the Mountains of Madness and Alien together in his mind 
This resulted in him having to talk about the derelict ship with the pyramid as if they are parts of the vast city in the Lovecraft story. 
With that he talked about the remains of the space Jockey as if there are the multiple remains of the Old ones.   

This might well have been a fine performance from Guillermo in his interviews.
Perhaps it's a cultural thing to replace single entities with multitudes in parts of Mexico, and it could reveal a spooky element to their way of thinking.

  1. Den Of Geek: I’ve got a pet theory about Lovecraft, that he’s one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He influenced Stephen King, Alien, and maybe even Quatermass And The Pit, which you mentioned earlier. Is that something you’d agree with?
    Guillero Del Toro: I would agree wholeheartedly, and I’d say he’s not only influential, but one of the great unacknowledged writers. And not only his cosmic horror – there are the smaller tales too. When people think about Lovecraft, they often think about the big gothic monsters, but he had stuff like The Dreams In The Witch House, and The Thing On The Doorstep, which were very influential.
    DenOfGreek: There are a lot of Lovecraftian monsters in your films, too, aren’t there?
    Guillero Del Toro: Oh yeah. Mike Mignola’s Hellboy was influenced by Lovecraft big time. He wanted to make his monsters Lovecraftian. But I think many other films have been influenced by Lovecraft – like Alien, which is almost an outer-space version of At The Mountains Of Madness.
    (Source:, October 12, 2011, interview conducted by Ryan Lambie)
  2. Guillermo Del Toro: Puis, j'ai lu Les Montagnes hallucinées, et j'adoré sa pseudoscience. Lovecraft y est très rigoureux dans ses descriptions géographiques, géologiques, il est très précis vis-à-vis de l'équipement utilisé, le véhicules... C'est Alien de Ridley Scott. C'est prosaïque, crédible, et puis le fantastique arrive. J'ai essayé de l'adapter, mais je suis presque sûr que le film ne fera jamais (Translation: Then I read The Mountains of Madness, and I loved its pseudoscience. Lovecraft is very strict in his descriptions geographical, geological, it is very specific to the equipment used, the vehicle... It is Alien by Ridley Scott. It is prosaic, credible, and then the fantastic arrives. I tried to adapt it, but I'm pretty sure that the film will never be)(Mad Movies Hors-Serie 27, p24, Octobre 2015.)

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