Category Archives: Guillermo del Toro

Movies and Tea #18 – The Shape of Water

Born out of a failed attempt to remake “Creature From The Black Lagoon”, The Shape of Water saw del toro question what would have happened if Kay had actually gone off with the Gill-Man.

Unquestionable a unique romantic movie, here we find Del Toro at his most sympathetic for his own gil-man creation while also crafting some of the most visually arresting footage of his career somthing the academy reward his efforts by awarding the film the best film and director awards at the 90th academy awards.

On this episode we dive into this most unlikely of romances aswell as Del Toro’s most explicit film to date, to find out how he made us all believe in his vision, question the obsession with green aswell as what the intended black and white cut of the film could have offered. We also wrap up the season revealing our favourite, most hated aswell as the hidden gems of Del Toro’s filmography.

Further Viewing

Amelie
The Creature From The Black Lagoon
Hellraiser
Hellboy
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Alexandre Desplat – Elisa’s Theme
Alexandre Desplat – Princess Without A Voice

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Movies and Tea #17 – Crimson Peak

Having established his “Eye Protein” style while crafting love letters to giant monsters and the things which go bump in the night with “Crimson Peak” his intrest turned to the classic Hammer Horror films while drawing further inspiration from the likes of “House on Haunted Hill” and “The Shinning” to craft a Gothic love story hidden under the geise of a ghost story.

Released to middling fanfare the film remains much like his early films somthing of an underdissed entry in his filmography….until now.

Further Viewing

Dracula (1992)
Jane Eyre (2011)
The House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The Shining

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Fernando Velázquez – Edith’s Theme
Fernando Velázquez – Soft Hands

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Movies and Tea #16 – Pacific Rim

Having both critical acclaim and mainstream recognition with Pan’s Labyrinth Del Toro would suprisingly enter into a period of development hell as he struggled to find both funding and studio backing for his next project before finally returning with his love letter to monsters and Kaiju movies Pacific Rim

On this episode we are also joined in this episode by Stephen Palmer (Gweilo Ramblings / Asian Cinema Film Club) to see if there is more to the film than giant robots battling monsters aswell as the inspiration for Del Toro’s vision.

Further Viewing

Kong skull island
The Meg
Starship Troopers
Gamera Guardian of the Universe
Patlabor
Gundam Wing
Mothra vs godzilla
Destroy all Monsters
Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla
Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Ramin Djawadi – 2500 Tons of Awesome
Ramin Djawadi – Pacific Rim Main Theme

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Movies and Tea #15 – Pan’s Labyrinth

An adult fairytale set against a backdrop of the Spanish Civil war, here Guillermo Del Toro’s blending of styles delivers powerful results which resonated not only with critics and foreign language cinema fans, but also mainstream audiences. Del Toro forgoing the offers from Hollywood Studios to ensure complete freedom for his vision.

Norman from Flick Hunter joins us to discuss this breakout film for Del Toro, aswell as sharing his thoughts on this years Oscar nominations and more!!

Further Viewing

Sucker Punch
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Shining
Edward Scissorhands
City of Lost Children

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
El Refugio – Javier Navarrete
Long Long Time Ago –  Javier Navarrete

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Movies and Tea #14 – Hellboy + Hellboy: The Golden Army

*Also submitted as part of Ultimate 2000s Blogathon*

Having already dabbled with a comic book movie with Blade 2, Del Toro’s return to the genre was much more of a passion project as he choose to adapt Mike Mignola’s cult indie comic Hellboy while at the same time bringing his own spin to the character and world he inhabits.

Joining us for this episode is Comic Book Movie expert Bubbawheat (Flights, Tights and Movie Nights) as we look at both films while asking what could have been if Del Toro had been able to finish his trilogy.

We also discuss Black Panther getting an Oscar nomination, question if the market for comic book movies is over saturated and ask who is the best Del Toro villain plus much more!

Further Viewing

Hellboy: Sword of Storms
Blood and Iron
Frankenstein’s Army
Don’t Be Be Afraid of the Dark
Watchmen

Music on this episode

Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Marco Beltrami – Hellboy Main Theme
Barry Manilow – Can’t Smile Without You

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The Devil’s Backbone (2001) – Kim’s Take

Check out our podcast review HERE.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

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Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, Fernando Tielve, Inigo Garces, Irene Visedo, Junio Valverde

After Carlos – a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War – arrives at an ominous boys’ orphanage, he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover. – IMDB

Guillermo Del Toro returns to Spanish films as he creates this horror drama that takes a twist on the traditional ghost story. The Devil’s Backbone has always been regarded as a strong film in the Del Toro filmography and its one that brings around a lot of originality while still having the factors of multiple parallel plot points and character relationships as a result, creating depth in its myriad of characters.

The Devil’s Backbone is a fantastic film. The main reasoning behind it being that despite its slower pacing, this film finds it footing of the multi-genre approach and the rare gem that creates a horror with both depth and properly executed twists and build-up. He starts the film as a ghost story, introducing us to a ghost boy Santi haunting the orphanage as well as the bullying theme which brings together the boys and their respective troubles that eventually bring them together by the end. At the same time, its makes us question the unresolved issue that keeps Santi there. The orphanage itself and the general setting is not only plagued with impending political issues as well as an unexploded bomb in the grounds that has its own set of questions and assumptions from the characters.

What deserves real mention here are the core characters other than Carlos but the adult characters who each have their own imperfections, be it the headmistress with her artificial leg who finds emotional companionship in his friend, Dr. Casares, played by Federico Luppi while also enjoying the physical desire she gets from a twisted young character, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega) who has ulterior motives. While the characters weaker in nature like Dr. Casares and Jacinto’s fiancee, Conchita, played by Irene Visedo, end up finding a strength when things take a turn for the worst in the final act. At the same time, the human villain here, Jacinto which Eduardo Noriego does a great job at interpreting because the character is also written with so much depth, with proper motives and twisted psychological and never admitting defeat sort of deal, making him a character with no limits to when he stops and that makes him even harder to forgive.

Del Toro creates misdirection in one way and also boasts his ability to create human monsters rather than the typical route of making the paranormal spirits the big evil. With that said, the horror drama here leans more towards the drama aspects than the horror. It isn’t to say that when the horror moments happen that it doesn’t deliver some chilling goosebumps moments with its sound design and atmosphere.

Have you seen The Devil’s Backbone?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Movie Tourist – Tarmagant Island (Hellboy)

Located off the coast of Scotland, Tarmagant Island might seem like another inconspicuous rock relegated to sheep farmers. Who would have guessed that it was at one time the potential epicentre of the apocalypse foiled during the final days of the second World War while leaving in it’s wake one of the Earth’s more unlikely heroes.

When Hellboy was released in 2004 comic book movies were still far from the big budget properties they currently have evolved into between the Marvel Cinematic-Universe and it’s DC counterpart. However this was very much a passion project for Guillermo Del Toro as here the creatures of the night were the ones which “bumped back” back the forces of evil which of course for a monster kid like Del Toro made it the perfect property to adapt. Of course at the same time how do you have a character who outside of the comic book fans doesn’t exactly have the same name recognition as Superman or Spider-man?

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The solution to this problem can be found in the opening prologue as scientist and occult advisor for the Allies Trevor Bruttenholm accompanies a squad of Allied soldiers on a mission to Taragant Island were Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin has not only survived being assassinated but is working with the Nazis to create an interdimensional portal to free the Ogfru Jahad to turn the tide of the war. While the portal is destroyed its not before an infant demon with a large stone hand comes through who will grow up to be the titular Hellboy. Certainly it’s a simple sequence but one which perfectly sets up the world which Hellboy takes place in, were secret wars with the occult are fought, continuing through to the present day were the BPRD (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development) headed up by a now elderly professor Bruttenholm continue a Men In Black secret fight with the forces of the occult. To this extent island is responsible for setting up much of the key structure of the film as here we get the introduction of Hellboy and his subsequent adoption by Bruttenholm who taking him as his son instils in this demon elements of humanity which plays against his original role as the key to bringing about the apocalypse.

This location is equally important in that the the island provides an effective way to introduce the films villains who Del Toro establishes without losing the flow of the scene be it through Bruttenholm pointing out the key members to the squad such the permanently gas mask clad Obersturmbannfuhrer (try saying that after a few drinks) Karl Ruprecht Kroenen alongside Rasputin’s lover and disciple Iisa von Haupstein. The connection between the later being especially interesting for the subtly that Del Toro uses for establishing their relationship with the pair showing no physical affection for each other and yet there is unquestionably a tender and deeper connection shared between them. The lack of a physical connection is something only further reinforced by Del Toro’s commentary for the film were he highlights the fact that Rasputin’s penis was cut off during his assassination were lets not forget he was poisoned, beaten, shot, castrated and drowned because Russian nobels seemingly don’t like to do things by half and mater of factly confirmed by Bruttenholm aswell as Del Toro during the films commentary track. As a grotesque side note the detached member is rumoured as of 2004 to be held at the Russian Museum of Erotica were there museum’s curator has stated that the mere sight of it can cure impotence.

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Rasputin himself is a far cry from the images of the mad monk we have come to associate with the name with his wild beard and slicked down hair as instead this character sees Del Toro drawing inspiration instead from Mike Mignola reworking of the character who also served as one of Hellboy’s main antagonist in the comics while appearing here as a bald and bare chested tech-mancer which sees him opening the portal using like so much of this work an oversized glove, perhaps designed to mirror the stone fist of Hellboy which during the finale demonstrates its own portal opening abilities.

Out of this trio the stand out is unquestionably the mute Kroenen whose appearances in the comics was unremarkable but in Del Toro’s hands gets re-crafted into a sleek killing machine with his trademark wrist knives. Del Toro’s extensive work for this character only further rewarded the more which is revealed about the character such as his surgery addiction while the clockwork mechanisms of his prosthetic hand and suit perfectly play into Del Toro’s love of clockwork mechanisms which appears throughout his filmography. So strong is the design of this character with his clockwork gas mask that he never says a word throughout the film and yet has just enough of a grounded quality to stop him seeming too fantastical.

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The location itself see’s Del Toro really tapping into a b-movie vibe with white leather clad scientists and grand mechanisms such as the portal generator and Rasputin’s glove having that element of the fantastical to them which is traded out for more grounded and realistic setups when we move into the modern day. Even with the time shift Del Toro makes sure to carry across the small details from this scene such as the hand lost by Kroenen during this opening being replaced by a clockwork appendage when he re-appears in the modern day. If anything though it’s through this opening that Del Toro really establishes a style for his Hellboy universe which is quite different to his other films especially with his desire to push the fantastical elements and while the rest of the film might not quite meet the same level as this opening, here Del Toro really demonstrates just how fantastical his visions can get when given the freedom a comic book movie provides especially when these films already don’t require themselves to be anchored to reality.