Interview: Paolo Gaudio – Director of New Lovecraft Adaptation Dagon


Here at Dread Central we get incredibly excited at the news of a new H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, especially one as ambitious as Dagon. Check out our interview with director Paolo Gaudio below, and be sure to contribute to the film here.

Dread Central: As he was unknown and impoverished when he died, are you glad that Lovecraft’s work is finally being given recognition?

Paolo Gaudio: I am indeed. Although I must admit that I am not surprised that at the time of their publication, these stories have not received the deserved success, which fortunately they got today. Like every genius, Lovecraft was looking to the future, by intercepting the fears and anxieties of a society that still had to come – our society. Today, the imagery generated by this artist is totally recognizable and contemporary.

Dagon Poster (1)

In my opinion the work of Lovecraft, as well as that of Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne, is valuable material for every artists who want to approach the fantastic genre. At least once every filmmaker should approach these extraordinary writers and try to adapt one of their stories; it would enrich their work and let them became more aware of the genre itself.

DC: What is it that you love about the story of Dagon?

PG: Everything! The deep descriptions of fear and dismay. The tormenting and evocative language. The linearity of the events and the modern use of the flash-forwards and flashbacks. Not to mention the atmosphere: World War I, the escape from the enemy, the shipwreck on the island, the monolith and the profound horror at the sight of the monstrosity of the Great Old One. Magnificent.

DC: Dagon is not as well know as his other stories. To date, only one film adaptation has been made. Do you plan to bring the story into the public awareness?

PG: The idea behind my adaptation is to recreate the universe told by the writer of Providence in a ’80s action movie. In particular, I think of movies like Aliens and Predator, in which the horror elements are mixed with adventure and action. With a view like that, Dagon appeared to me immediately as the perfect story – also for the reasons I mentioned above – due to its ending, because it is allowing me to continue the story described by Lovecraft inserting extravagant characters and b-movie clichés with monsters, punches, bullets and blood everywhere. In this context, the animation provides the glue that allows me to keep everything together, respecting both my desire of a nostalgic and bizarre movie and the original story so deep and important.

DC: What makes animation and horror go hand in hand so well?

PG: I think animation has the incredible ability to put in the center of the cinema fantasy and imagination. Within a territory so large and free, the human soul radicalized its capacity to feel sensations and emotions. Fear, as well as wonder, are things that belong to us deeply, but too often we try to ignore or repress them. The animated film, since the beginning, has been the vehicle to travel through imagination, even in dark and creepy corners, without repression or moralism and with much humor.

Dagon Poster 3 (1)

DC: And I understand that you’re trying to make this similar in tone to a 1980s Schwarzenegger movie?

PG: Exactly. I had the idea rereading Dagon. I wondered who would not run away in front of the horrible vision of the creature clinging to the monolith. Eventually, I thought, the one who killed the Predator and destroyed the T-1000. Who led the revolution on Mars and won the barbarian throne. Seven times winner of the title of Mr. Olympia and the former Governor of the great State of California. In short, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

DC: Claymation is notoriously time-consuming, how are you managing the process?

PG: Gathering all the patience I have. However, if the campaign will reach the goal – as I hope with all my heart – I will not be alone in this adventure and I can count on the invaluable help of the animator Gianluca Maruotti and producer Angelo Poggi. Contributors essential for the success of this project.

Dagon Models (1)

DC: Can you talk about the visual look? How are you capturing the essence of Lovecraft?

PG: I believe there is no better way to give new life to such an important and deeply rooted work, such as Lovecraft’s, than mixing it with something as apparently distant or different. I already talked about the influences for the mood I want to recreate, and as for the look of the movie I think of many animated series of the 80s like “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” or “Thundercats.” I love the color palette in those cartoons, the design of the locations and creatures that were threatening and surreal yet suitable for an audience of children.

Dagon Poster 2 (1)

DC: And will Dagon himself look horrific?

PG: Of course! I’ll try to respect the Great Old Ones of Lovecraft and their original appearance, but setting them within the concept art that I want for my film. I would say that they will appear hideous in the eyes of a child – like Skeletor or Mumm-Ra – and funny to an adult.

DC: What kind of runtime are you aiming for?

PG: At the end of the campaign, we will develop a 5-minutes teaser trailer: the first round of Arnold against Dagon. The script we are working on will be of a feature film of about 80 pages.

DC: And although he isn’t featured in the Dagon story, as Cthulhu is Lovecraft’s most famous creation, will he be featured or acknowledged in the film?

PG: Cthulhu can’t be missing! With Dagon I’d name not only the single creature, but the entire island where the adventure takes place. A bit like the Skull Island of King Kong, where many creatures and not just the horrible guardian of the monolith. So, if I get the chance to develop this project, I will insert in my movie much more of the creatures described in the Necronomicon or in Mountains of Madness. A great tribute to the creativity of Lovecraft revived in a crazy action cartoon with Schwarzy style.

Dagon Poster 4 (1)



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter