Fascinated Fridays: Why Guillermo Del Toro is Awesome

So the other day, I was reading through Io9, an excellent blog, and one of the posts caught my attention.  It was a post positing the question “Who is your favorite creator who wears their influences on their sleeve?”   Not really an article, more a post starting a conversation for the comments.  But the author of the post, Charlie Jane Anders (who is a pretty incredible writer in her own right!), had led off with a picture from Pacific Rim.   She put up Guillermo Del Toro as an example of this, and in seeing that, it made me realize that this is one of the things that I really love about Del Toro.

Joe and I had a chance to hear Guillermo Del Toro speak in Hall H of Comic-Con San Diego, years ago.  It was when he was promoting Pan’s Labyrinth (more on that in a bit).  Not only were we both amazed by what we were seeing of the new movie, but we also had both really enjoyed Del Toro’s Blade 2 .

As he was talking about his career, Del Toro actually brought up that movie.  In describing it, Del Toro talked about making Blade 2 as a movie you could watch while eating a pizza and drinking a few beers. He said this, not apologetically, but with a real pride, and a fierce joy.

And I loved him for it.

Blade 2 is not an amazing art-house movie.  But it is a ton of fun.  Ron Perlman is great in it, as is a pre-Walking Dead Norman Reedus.  There is crazy action, cool vampire monsters, and some great fights.  It moves at a blistering pace.  It is a perfect pizza and beer movie.  And to have him acknowledge that with pride made me really happy.

Then, I saw Pan’s Labyrinth .

Pan’s is not a pizza and beer movie.  It is dark and intense, and sublimely beautiful, a fairy tale that you never had heard before, brought to life.  It is poetic and magical, and accomplished.  I love that movie.  And I love it even more because the same director who made Blade 2 made it.

Not everything Del Toro does hits me so perfectly.  As much as I love the Hellboy comics, I thought his two Hellboy movies were good not great.  But I still found them enjoyable, and there are still some of the amazing visuals that are his hallmark.

I will defend Pacific Rim with my last breath though.

Seriously.  You can offer up any complaint you may want about that movie.  I will smile and nod while I listen to you.  And then my rebuttal will be that it is a movie where giant robots fight Kaiju-style monsters.  Therefore nothing else matters.    That movie is what the 12 year old version of Mark dreamed of seeing on film, and now it exists.

His newest work Crimson Peak  looks to be a moody, gothic, haunted house story.  I cannot wait.  This is exactly the kind of horror I love, and to have Del Toro doing it is just perfect.  Just checl out the trailer.  The richness of the world, the mood, all of it is why I love what Del Toro does.

Del Toro published a book called Cabinet of Curiosities.    It is a collection of his notebooks throughout his career.  There is some beautiful stuff in there.  But the most fascinating part for me was the description of where he works.  He has a separate house, near his home, that he uses as his office.  He has dubbed it “Bleak House.”  The house itself is full of memorabilia, but the most incredible space is his main work room.  Del Toro is a huge fan of Disney’s The Haunted Mansion, and he has had his main office done with the same wallpaper and coloring as the famous attraction.  And even better, he has had a large window installed into the room that does not open to the outside.  Instead, it is a false window that at the flip of a switch can simulate a storm.

I want one.  I want one bad.

One day, Del Toro will get a chance to take on the work of an author that both he and I love dearly:  H.P. Lovecraft.  Del Toro has talked for a long time about his desire to film “At the Mountains of Madness,” but I would love to see what he could do with “The Call of Cthulhu” or “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”  Whichever way, I would love to see his version of Lovecraft’s mythos.

For me, Del Toro is a favorite creator because, as the article Miss Anders wrote pointed out, he does wear his influences on his sleeve.  He likes horror and comic books.  He likes Godzilla and giant robots.  He likes Disneyland and vampires and pizza and beer.  He likes fairy tales and knows that the real ones are scary.

He likes the same things that I do.  And he has made his career making those passions his own.

That’s inspiring.

Keep finding things you love,

-Mark

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