Is 'Crimson Peak' Based On A Book? The New Film Comes Straight From Guillermo Del Toro's Scare-Loving Brain

Crimson Peak, a new film from writer/director Guillermo del Toro about a haunted house in 19th century England, features beautiful imagery and stars big name actors like Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, and Mia Wasikowska. But don't let all that beauty fool you: This is a seriously scary movie — even Stephen King thinks so. In the film, out Oct. 16, Wasikowska portrays Edith Cushing, who has just married Hiddleston's enigmatic and charming Sir Thomas Sharpe and moved into his family's dark and rural estate. There, she finds Sharpe's creepy and odd sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe (Chastain), and begins seeing terrifying ghostly apparitions around the house. The film looks and sounds very literary, with author (and Stephen King's son) Joe Hill even comparing it to the Edith Wharton novel The Age of Innocence. So it might seem that Crimson Peak based on a book — but actually, that's not the case at all.

Crimson Peak is not based on any work of fiction or non-fiction, though there is a novelization of the movie on the way. Instead, the film comes solely from the crazy mind of Guillermo del Toro. The director conceived the story himself and co-wrote a version of the film with screenwriter Matthew Robbins; he then later did a rewrite with playwright Lucinda Coxon. Del Toro had numerous inspirations for his story, including literary classics such as the works of the Bronte sisters and gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe, along with classic horror movies like The Haunting, The Innocents, and The Shining.

Although del Toro may be widely known for his big screen adaptation of Hellboy comics or for penning The Hobbit movies, he may be at his best when he's crafting stories from his own imagination. Here are some other works that del Toro invented out of whole cloth, with no need for any source material.


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Del Toro's feature film debut was this 1993 Mexican production about the secret to immortality, enclosed inside the Cronos device which causes those it infects to become vampires in exchange for living forever. The movie received stellar reviews praising its originality, and sits at a lofty 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Devil's Backbone

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This 2001 film may have been partly responsible for the proliferation of scary ghost children in movies over last decade and a half, but few if any have depicted spooky kids better than this film. The movie takes place at an orphanage in Spain near the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, and was even better received than Cronos .

Pan's Labyrinth

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Considered by many to be del Toro's crowning achievement, with a 95 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating to back up that assessment, this 2006 film builds on many of the themes established in The Devil's Backbone. There is a child protagonist facing the fallout of the Spanish Civil War, and the real life horrors of mankind are juxtaposed with the supernatural. An absolutely amazing film.

Pacific Rim

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Del Toro's attempt at an original, big budget science fiction blockbuster did pretty well with critics and overseas audiences, but its tepid U.S. box office returns have delayed the anticipated sequel. Still, the flashy epic of giant robots fighting giant alien monsters has a devoted fan following, chief among them being del Toro, who is determined to get the sequel made.

The Strain

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This FX TV show is based upon a trilogy of novels, novels that were written by del Toro. He originally conceived the vampire disease tale as a television series back in 2006, but an executive at the time told him it should be a comedy. So del Toro regrouped and co-wrote the book series with author Chuck Hogan before finally bringing his vision to television in 2014. A third season was recently approved, set to debut next year.

Guillermo del Toro is one of the most creative voices working in Hollywood today, and Crimson Peak should only add to his reputation. It's so refreshing to see a director willing to take risks and make the movies he wants to make, and I hope del Toro is able to continue what he's been doing for many years to come.

Images: Universal Pictures