BUDAPEST, Hungary — Demons and mermen and angels of death — oh my!
Recently, MTV News took a butt-numbing flight all the way to Central Europe to visit the set of "Hellboy II: The Golden Army." Goulash was eaten, bizarre game shows with topless hostesses were seen on the hotel-room TV and at some point an interview was conducted with red-hot "Pan's Labyrinth" director Guillermo del Toro on a decimated "New York" street at 3 a.m. But if there was one lasting message to be remembered, it was a simple one worthy of being shouted from the rooftops.
"Hellboy II" looks a hell of a lot better than the first film.
Which is good news if you liked del Toro's eager-to-please 2004 flick, and even better news if it left you hoping for something more. The director has all his major stars back (Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt and Jeffrey Tambor), more freedom behind the camera and a script that contains dozens of eye-popping new monsters. Keep those peepers peeled for a comprehensive MTV set visit in this space sometime between now and the flick's July 11 release, but in the meantime, here are the hellish details too hot to hold:
» The sequel is set one year following the original film, after Liz (Blair) has shacked up with Hellboy (Perlman).
» Character creator Mike Mignola and artist Francisco Ruiz Valesco will be putting out a Dark Horse comic that plays off the "Hellboy II" movie prologue, explaining the origins of the Golden Army.
» Explaining that he's been influenced heavily by "The Wizard of Oz," del Toro said he's aiming for more of a fantasy feel this time around. As such, the characters are traveling to fantastic worlds, rather than having the monsters come to ours.
» Doe-eyed beauty Anna Walton kicks off the plot as elfin Princess Nuala, who is trying to stop a battle of epic proportions between mankind and her evil twin brother Nuada (Luke Goss). She'll be presented as very light and he'll be very dark, aiming for a yin/yang dynamic.
» "Pan's Labyrinth" star Jones confirmed that he will not only be in the Sapien suit, but will actually provide the merman's voice this time around. Sorry, "Frasier" junkies — no David Hyde Pierce dubbing in the sequel.
» Among the sets we saw were the lair of the Troll King (massive pipes and furnaces, built in a Budapest church several centuries old), a "Rocky"-like meat locker with huge slabs of beef and a demolished New York street (massive holes in the ground, dozens of flipped over cars, very "Transformers"-esque).
» Selma Blair has noticeably shorter hair, and wields a gun in the film.
» Speaking of weaponry, Hellboy sports an enormous new gun called "The Big Baby" that uses huge bullets that resemble flares. Each bullet has a baby bottle on the side and reads "Suck on This." For a great view of the Tex Avery-influenced gun, check out the movie's Web site.
» "Hellboy II" is the first film to shoot inside the massive Korda Studios complex, an impressive site about 20 miles into the Budapest countryside.
» The actors and del Toro all frequently referred to imminent plans for a "Hellboy III"; the plot would largely revolve around the Angel of Death scene that was shooting when we visited.
» Finally, some of the film's major moments will take place in a jam-packed Troll Market that features all sorts of eccentric street salesmen, including a Mummy Vendor and a Cat Vendor (think Harry Potter's Diagon Alley).Check out MTV's exclusive first look at the imaginative concept art behind the "troll masks" that appear in these scenes.
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