Oscars 2018: Guillermo Del Toro's Greatest Monsters, From Pan's Labyrinth To The Shape Of Water
Guillermo Del Toro is one of fantasy cinema's great modern directors. From acclaimed Spanish language movies such as The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth to high profile Hollywood blockbusters like Pacific Rim and Hellboy films, Del Toro's gift for imaginative, exciting, scary, and often deeply moving cinema is unrivalled. He's also delivered some of the most memorable monsters of recent times too. By tapping into the great tradition of movie creatures that goes back to the likes of Frankenstein and Creature From the Black Lagoon, Del Toro has ensured that his creations are a vital part of his storytelling and frequently unlike anything we've seen on screen before.
His latest movie, The Shape of Water, is another masterpiece. Part period drama, part sci-fi thriller, part offbeat love story, it features another fantastic monster creation, played by the director's regular creature collaborator, Doug Jones. So with the film nominated for 13 awards at the upcoming Oscars, let's take a look at some of the other amazing monster creations in Del Toro's filmography.
12. Cathedral-Head (Hellboy II: The Golden Army, 2008)
Hellboy II is packed with weird and wonderful monstrous creations; so many that some of the best are on screen only fleetingly. Cathedral-Head is one of Del Toro's most hilariously odd creatures. He runs a map shop in the Troll Market, and yes, has a cathedral for a head. Del Toro originally planned an even more lavish design for this creation: "Originally the idea was to have little humans running around the ramparts," he said. "But the budget wouldn't allow it."
11. Karl Ruprecht Kroenen (Hellboy, 2004)
Although Kroenen appeared in Mike Mingola's Hellboy comics, he was dramatically reworked by Del Toro into the one of the first movie's main bad guys. On the page he's just a scientist in a gasmask, but on screen he became--to use Del Toro's words--a "mechanical clockwork Nazi zombie." We approve.
10. The Last Elemental (Hellboy II: The Golden Army, 2008)
One of Del Toro's greatest skills is his ability to make his monsters more than just weird and scary. He frequently treats them as he does his human characters, giving them personalities and even making them sympathetic and relatable. Hellboy II's Last Elemental is a great example. Despite its destructive nature, this gigantic tree god is the last of its kind, and Hellboy's decision to kill it is a haunting, tragic moment.
9. Ghosts (Crimson Peak, 2015)
Crimson Peak is Del Toro's least-loved movie. It was a box office failure, and was met by mixed reviews from critics who found the mix of gore, scares, humor, and gothic romance a little uneven. But there is much to like, including the gruesome ghosts which haunt the movie's Gothic mansion. These bloody phantoms are both visceral and otherworldly, their high-contrast red design a world away from more familiar cinematic spectres.
8. Behemoth (Hellboy, 2004)
This terrifying tentacled beast is perhaps as close as we'll get to seeing what Del Toro would have done if he'd had the chance to direct his passion project, At the Mountains of Madness. Sadly that H.P. Lovecraft adaptation never happened, but we do have the Behemoth. One of the 369 children of the demonic entities known as the Ogdru Jahad, it was inspired by the interdimensional horrors of Lovecraft's stories, and made its appearance in Hellboy by bursting out of the body of Hellboy's nemesis Rasputin.
7. Trespasser (Pacific Rim, 2013)
Pacific Rim is packed with cool kaiju, but none have quite the initial onscreen impact as the Trespasser. It's the first creature we see, and this towering beast--also known as Axehead--gives us the perfect introduction to the destructive power of the kaiju. Trespasser lays waste to San Francisco, and because he pre-dates the Jaegers, lives to fight another day.
6. Faun (Pan's Labyrinth, 2006)
This goat-like creature was played by Doug Jones and formed a major part of Pan's Labyrinth's poster campaign. He towers above Ofelia as he leads her into the labyrinth and. despite Del Toro's insistence that the Faun is “neither good or evil,” there is a strong suggestion that he harbours unhealthy desires for the young girl.
5. Reapers (Blade 2, 2002)
With Del Toro in charge of the second Blade movie, he made sure that his vampires were way more memorable than those in its predecessor. The Reapers are genetically enhanced bloodsuckers with three-part jaws that split their heads wide open, to allow a proboscis-like tongue to hoover up their victim's blood. Tasty.
4. Judas Breed (Mimic, 1997)
Del Toro may not have had a happy experience directing his English-language debut Mimic, but the movie did deliver one of his scariest monsters. The Judas Breed are huge, human-hunting mutant termite/mantis hybrids that can imitate people by folding their wings and arms, shortly before they rip your head off.
3. The Angel of Death (Hellboy II: The Golden Army, 2008)
Played by Doug Jones once more, this demonic, grinning figure holds Hellboy's fate in her hands in a key scene towards the end of Hellboy II. Like Pan's Labyrinth's Pale Man, the Angel's eyes are located elsewhere on her body--in this case on her wings--with the top-half of her head replaced by a weird cracked organic disc. Or something.
2. Otachi (Pacific Rim, 2013)
Otachi is the meanest, deadliest, an coolest of all Pacific Rim's kaiju. She spits gallons of Jaeger-melting neon acid, can fly, has a lethal barbed tail, and just keeps on fighting. And, as we discover when she is finally stopped by Gipsy Danger, she did all this while pregnant!
1. Pale Man (Pan's Labyrinth, 2006)
Perhaps the most iconic and terrifying monster in Del Toro's filmography, the Pale Man is the child-eating humanoid creature that Ofelia must face in Pan's Labyrinth. Played, of course, by Doug Jones, the moment in which this creature places his eyeball-hands on his face remains a classic, unforgettably chilling moment.