Guillermo wrote this screenplay between 1993 and 1998 with Kit Carson and Matthew Robbins. (Robbins co-wrote the MIMIC screenplay with Del Toro). It was originally entitled MONTECRISTO, and of course is based on the famed novel by Alexandre Dumas.
GDT wrote the story as a "Gothic-western". It was written during a time when GDT's father was kidnapped and held for ransom, and Guillermo has described this screenplay has having "a lot of rage." He has described the film as being technically challenging, most recently in a 2008 interview with Den of Geek:
I think that’s a movie that still bugs me a little bit. I mean, when you ask me if I’m scared of The Hobbit, I’m not, I’m more scared of Left Hand Of Darkness, because it’s a movie that I’m very, very proud of the screenplay, but it requires a set of tools that are a little daunting. It’s sort of like a David Lean, Sergio Leone epic western. Very much full of magic. And it’s the only movie without any creatures."
In 2002, Guillermo gave a French magazine some great details on the film (as reported by AintItCool News):
"It's a very gothic adaptation of the book. I've always thought that Dumas (the author of the book) wanted to evoke the spirit of the "1001 nights", his fascination for the Orient. Each adaptation was an adventure film or a classic movie without any invention, exoticism. So I wondered what would give this book adapted as a western(...). In the book, the Count is often mentioned as a "pirate", a "vampire", a "thief". He's very dark. And in my adaptation, the Count only goes out at nights. He's very close to a Dracula coming from a western, all dressed in black, red and gold. He has a mechanical arm that allows him to draw his gun faster than every one (...). Monte Cristo will be a very catholic movie (...)."
DARKNESS is considered by Guillermo to be one of his pet projects, along with AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. And, like ATMOM, the timing just hasn't been quite right in getting it made. In 2002, Kevin Reynolds directed a film version starring Jim Caviezel. Now, with the epic HOBBIT going into production, and other commitments to Universal, the fate of this project is still unknown.