AT HOME WITH ALLEGORIES:
battling the blockbuster CGI enhanced beast
in the film art of Guillermo Del Toro
by Gary W. Wright
Significantly, an exhibit currently on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) openly and exuberantly affirmed that Guillermo Del Toro Gomez was AT HOME WITH MONSTERS. The exhibit also revealed why the Del Toro film style was often a fusion of allegorical art film, indie film, horror film with narrative art. For the exhibit allowed the Guadalajara born film artist to happily display his massive collection of allegorical and horror themed fiction, film, narrative art, paintings and sculptures-with a particular fondness for Grand Master Richard Corben, H.R. ‘Biomek’ Giger, HEAVY METAL magazine, Screamin’ Stephen King, lovelorn H.P. Lovecraft, poignant Edgar A. Poe, Scary Mary Shelley, and Bernie Wrightson-plus production art from his films. In the Foreword of the accompanying guide, Guillermo Del Toro: at home with monsters, Del Toro explained why, informing us that
…I was lost when they found me, the monsters…(for) they, too, were outcasts of this absurd world that demanded perfection and gave nothing back…Monsters are, to this day, true family to me
…I serve them-a power greater than myself-with
abandon and unwavering dedication and love
(Del Toro, 6).
Clearly, like many people-particularly artists-Del Toro felt like an outsider in the Great Mystery of life, and one that the baying and torch wielding mob might hunt down one dark and stormy night if it was believed that the implicit allegorical intent of one of his films was truly monstrous. For the film art of Del Toro implicitly affirmed that he was just at home with allegories as he was with monsters. Allegorical film art that Del Toro implicitly used to come to grips with the fatal helicopter crash around 2:20 am in the early morning hours of July 23, 1982 that killed child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le and actor/director/writer Vic Morrow on the George Folsey jr. produced set of the John Landis segment of the twilit and allegorical Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller and Steven Spielberg film, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983), like most film artists of the dread allegorical Zone Wars that erupted after the TZ disaster, beginning with his first twilit and allegorical film, CRONOS (1993).
‘The small parts always support the large ones.’
Curiously, from first artistic and elaborately designed frame to the last, the film displayed Del Toro’s characteristic fusion of art, indie and horror film, making it clear that his vision was already well established by the time of his first film. CRONOS also alluded to the allegorical, Ozian themed film roasting and Screamin’ Stephen King scripted George Romero film, CREEPSHOW (1982), openly linking it to the twilit and disastrous year of 1982-indeed, CRONOS often seemed like a extended and creative riff on ‘They’re Creeping Up On You’, the fifth, final, insect fearing and implicitly Great Oz roasting segment of CREEPSHOW. How fitting that the film revolved around a sweet and silent girl who looked like King named Aurora-who was also linked to Canada throughout the film by her name, her initial white shirt and red blouse, and her plastic, red and blue Supergirl raincoat, and played by Tamara Shanath. Aurora liked to help her beloved and kindly grandfather, Jesus ‘Grey Jesus’ Gris-played by Federico Luppi-at his Grand Antique Bazaar, presumably in Mexico City. Curiously, Gris resembled the equally kindly, bespectacled and implicitly Franklin D. Roosevelt linked Gepetto-voiced by Christian Rub-in the allegorical and implicitly Adolf Hitler satirizing Hamilton Luske and Ben Sharpsteen film, PINOCCHIO (1940), linking Gris to the Walt Disney Studio.
The link of Gris to Gepetto and the Walt Disney Studio was reaffirmed soon after Gris was bitten by a mechanical and immortality bequeathing gold bug-as gold as an Oscar statuette, and with a living bug inside it-created by a legendary alchemist-played by Mario I. Martinez-that Gris found in his store in an antique wooden sculpture that was crawling with cockroaches. For the discovery prompted the gleefully Evil and implicitly ‘Uncle’ Walt Disney and Michael Eisner linked pair of Uncle De La Guardia, head of De La Guardia Enterprises, and his huge and bitterly brooding nephew, Angel De La Guardia-played by Claudio Brook and Ron Perlman, respectively-to harass Gris to sell them the gold bug so as to acquire its promised immortality.
Of course, being bitten by a gold bug symbolized becoming obsessed by a lust for gold, as Poe implied in his allegorical story, ‘The Gold Bug’ (1843). This implicit obsession with monetary and Oscar gold reminded us that by 1993 Eisner, the equally big, bitterly brooding and new CEO of the Walt Disney Studio, had abandoned the film art for film art’s sake ethos of Uncle Walt in favour of an obsessive pursuit of fortune and glory. Eisner had also encouraged the use of computer generated imagery (CGI) to enhance both live action and animated Disney film art, setting the studio on a course to abandon traditional hand drawn animation as seen in PINOCCHIO in favour of all CGI animated film art by the new millenium.
To support this implied interest in Eisner, it was noticeable that Angel callously killed Gris and then exultantly killed his Uncle De La Guardia and took command of De La Guardia Enterprises to run and shamelessly pursue profit, murderous actions that implicitly symbolized Eisner’s equally shameless abandonment of the higher minded and hand drawn animation dreams of Disney. However, it was also noticeable that Gris, having acquired immortality by the gold bug, returned to undead and vampiric life after he was killed by Angel. Embraced by sweet, silent Aurora, eternally in love with her beloved grandfather, and allowed to moodily dream through the deadly daylight hours in the makeshift coffin of her toy box, Gris rose to avenge his murder and the murder of Uncle De La Guardia by killing Angel, in the end. Gris then smashed the gold bug, in the end, freeing himself from an addictive obsession with it. The film then ended with Gris lying in bed in a new, snake-like white skin, eternally loving Aurora fittingly cuddled up on top of his chest, for children loved Disney classics like PINOCCHIO more than adults.
Thus, Del Toro implied that that Eisner would kill the Walt Disney Studio and himself with his emphasis on fortune and glory as surely as Angel killed his Uncle and Gris killed him, and that the old hand drawn animated classics like PINOCCHIO would outlast Angel and be remembered long after he was gone like Gris outlived Angel. However, with Gris last seen in a state of transformation, Del Toro implied a certain ambivalence about the CGI enhancement of hand drawn animated film art or the arrival of fully CGI animated film art.
Curiously, Angel and Uncle De La Guardia also evoked fellow rebel indie film artists Alex ‘El Pelicullero’ Cox and David Lynch, at least to this Zone War film ‘scholar’, the first but not the last appearance of characters implicitly linked to Cox and Lynch in the idiosyncratic film art of Del Toro. At any rate, CRONOS impressed enough that Del Toro was allowed to create and return to the Temple Theatre with MIMIC (1995)-based on the allegorical story, ‘Mimic’ (1942), by Donald A. Wollheim-another twilit, allegorical, artsy and atmospheric horror film obsessed with bugs and with another character implicitly linked to Uncle Walt.
‘The Judas evolved to mimic its predators. Us.’
A curious fusion of such twilit and allegorical films as Dante’s GREMLINS (1984), James Cameron’s ALIENS (1986) and Frank Marshall’s ARACHNOPHOBIA (1990), the film began with a prologue that saw Centre for Disease Control directors and insect experts, Doctors Peter Mann and Susan Tyler-implicitly linked to Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, associate producer of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE and played by Jeremy Northam and Mira Sorvino, respectively-use a mutated breed of large black cockroaches that they had developed and that released a secretion that killed regular cockroaches to save New York City from a plague of Strickler’s disease spread by infected cockroaches. Three twilit years later, however, Mann and Tyler discovered to their horror that the mutant cockroaches had not died after six months as expected, but had lived and grown to an enormous size.
Significantly, the presence of the mutant infestation was announced when a huge ‘baby’ mutant given to Dr. Tyler by the intrepid kid insect hunters, the implicitly Francis Coppola and George Lucas linked Davis and Ricky-played by Javon Barnwell and James Costa, respectively-bit the palm of her left hand. The bloody sight reminded us that Gris was also bit first on the left palm by the mechanical gold bug in CRONOS, implying that the mutant cockroaches of MIMIC also symbolized foolish lusts for fortune, glory and immortality. However, unlike Angel and Uncle De La Guardia, whose lusts for fortune, glory and immortality lead to their deaths at the end of CRONOS, Mann and Tyler managed to desperately fight off and ultimately triumph over the mutant infestation in the explosive end. Thus, Del Toro implied his hope that Kennedy and Spielberg would also triumph over their beastly lusts for blockbuster fortune and glory with CGI mutated film art, shamelessly symbolized all too well by their then recent twilit and allegorical film, JURASSIC PARK (1993), and commit themselves to creating more serious and art for art’s sake film art.
A triumph over a foolishly lusting Dark Side that Del Toro regretfully implied would not be matched by Disney, as the Uncle Walt evoking Manny-played by Giancarlo Giannini-was killed by the sole and huge male progenitor of the otherwise all female mutant cockroaches. As this sole male mutant cockroach reminded us that Cameron was the alpha male of the world of film art by 1995, the implication was that the explosive triumph over the male ringleader and the rest of the mutant cockroaches also symbolized the hope of Del Toro that Spielberg would triumph over Cameron with a Kennedy produced film, something that has yet to happen. The film’s many allusions to ALIENS supported this additional interpretation of the film.
Significantly, the sight of Davis and Ricky being brutally murdered by the alpha male mutant cockroach evoked the brutal deaths of Chen and Le in the TZ disaster, affirming the twilit theme of MIMIC. However, these brutal murders did not outrage audiences and end the career of Del Toro, allowing him to prove that he had learned a few things making CRONOS and MIMIC and show Cameron, Coppola, Cox, Disney, Eisner, Kennedy, Lucas, Lynch and Spielberg how to really make film art when he teamed up again with Luppi and returned to the Temple Theatre with one of the finest and most haunting allegorical films ever made, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE (2001).
‘What is a ghost?...An emotion suspended in time.’
Indeed, Del Toro affirmed that he was sending a message to the main battling film artists of the dread allegorical Zone Wars by implicitly linking them to a group of orphan boys in a struggling orphanage in the Spanish Civil War, an uncivil war that evoked the equally uncivil Zone Wars. One of the teachers who watched over the orphan boys at the school was Doctor Casares-played by Luppi-who, with his white hair, mustache and beard looked like Richard Matheson, a writer on the original TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series and on TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, implicitly linking the abandonment of the boys to the abandonment that many film artists had suffered since the TZ disaster. Significantly, this boy’s orphanage was haunted by an unexploded but defused CGI enhanced blockbuster bomb dropped by a Fascist bomber lodged in its inner courtyard, a brooding blockbuster bomb that warned the implicit film artists of the deadly fate that awaited them if they created CGI enhanced blockbuster bombs. This boy’s orphanage was also haunted by the implicitly Morrow linked ghost of Santi-played by Andreas Munoz-who was murdered by the nefarious, blockbuster gold loot lusting and implicitly Tim Burton linked, Jacinto, ex-Disney Prince without a Magic Kingdom-played by Eduardo Noriega.
Curiously, while orphans linked to Coppola, Landis and Lucas like Galvez, Jaime and Owl-played by Adrien Lamana, Inigo Garces and Javier G. Sanchez, respectively-were staying in the orphanage, Del Toro chose to focus on the implicitly Cox linked newcomer, Carlos-played by Fernando Tielve. While an outsider like Cox when he was dropped off at the beginning of the film, Carlos slowly won over the others. To the extent that after an unfortunate explosion killed half of the boys but left most of the ones implicitly linked to film artists alive, implying the hope of Del Toro that Zone War film artists would not destroy themselves with CGI enhanced blockbuster bombs, Carlos joined the others in furiously spearing Jacinto and then pushing the mortally wounded killer into a pool in the orphanage basement to be embraced forever by Santi, in the end. An ending that implicitly affirmed that Del Toro was either not fond of Burton in general, or not specifically fond of his then latest and implicitly Lynch supporting and Paul Verhoeven roasting allegorical film, SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999)-or was it the CGI enhanced blockbuster beast roasting mayhem of the CGI enhanced and allegorical Burton film, MARS ATTACKS! (1996), that had aroused the ire of Del Toro?
Curiously, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE evoked the presciently twilit, satirical, implicitly New Hollywood film artist roasting and allegorical Terry Gilliam film, TIME BANDITS (1981), which was fitting given that 2001 was the twentieth anniversary year of the release of that film. The sparing CGI enhancement in the film was also linked to dark and Evil things, like the blockbuster bomb falling out of a bomb bay onto the orphanage below or to enhance the creepiness of the ghost of Santi, reaffirming Del Toro’s implicit misgivings about CGI in CRONOS. At any rate, after proving that he was a serious and talented allegorical film artist, indeed, Del Toro celebrated by returning to the Temple Theatre with Perlman and MIMIC and longtime David Cronenberg production designer Carol Spier on a film that allowed him to finally combine art, horror and indie films with his love for narrative art and implicitly linked CGI to Evil in the allegorical and big budget studio film, BLADE II (2002), based on the Marvel Comics character, Blade, created by Gene Colan and Marv Wolfman.
‘Vampires. I hate vampires.’
Indeed, CGI enhancement of film art was mostly linked to Evil and implicitly film artist linked vampires throughout the film. A deft film with more than a dash of the twilit and allegorical Wachowski Siblings film, THE MATRIX (1999), thrown in for good measure, BLADE II was a fine and creative sequel to the twilit and allegorical Stephen Norrington film, BLADE (1998), which continued the vampire battling saga of the half-human and half-vampire Blade-played by Wesley Snipes. With the return of Perlman as the Evil and possibly Eisner linked Reinhardt and the arrival of Kris Kristofferson as Blade’s mentor, the implicitly Lucas linked Whistler, the film appeared to roast Eisner again as in CRONOS and rally to the support of Lucas. The film also appeared to be making some comment about Toronto. For despite being created in Prague, some of the street scenes evoked Toronto. Three minor supporting vampire characters who evoked the three members of Rush reaffirmed the implicit Toronto addressing intent of BLADE II, which was somehow appropriate given that Del Toro would one day make Toronto his second home away from criminal harassing home after Los Angeles. The film’s many allusions to the eerily prescient and twilit and allegorical Sir Ridley Scott film, BLADE RUNNER (1982), also implied that Del Toro was replying to that film in its twentieth anniversary year in BLADE.
At any rate, Del Toro pulled off his first big studio and CGI enhanced film with artistry, confidence, style and subversive indie spirit. Not surprisingly, however, given his indie history, after proving his big budget studio creds with BLADE II, Del Toro returned to the indie path and eventually to the Temple Theatre with Perlman and BLADE II composer Marco Beltram to finally and fully fuse his commitment to idiosyncratic indie horror film art with his love for narrative art and blast CGI enhancement of film art again in the allegorical film, HELLBOY (2004), inspired by the Dark Horse Comics character, Hellboy, created by Mike Mignola and sometimes fittingly drawn by Grand Master Corben.
‘He likes it that way. The whole lonely hero thing.’
Significantly, with its allusions to such twilit and allegorical Cox films as REPO MAN (1984), STRAIGHT TO HELL (1987) and DEATH AND THE COMPASS (1996), Del Toro implied that he was gently and sympathetically roasting and toasting Cox again and his unwavering commitment to indie film in the implicit form of the titular Hellboy-played by Perlman-and his resigned and wry commitment to indie blockbuster beast battling superheroics with the top secret Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Indeed, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans and John Hurt-who played Hellboy love interest Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Sherman, BPRD Agent John Myers and Professor Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm, respectively-evoked Olivia Barash, Dick Rude and Zander Schloss, three thespians who had appeared in such Cox films as REPO MAN and STRAIGHT TO HELL. As for the beastly and blockbuster baddies, the nefarious Ilsa Haupstein and Grigori Rasputin-played by Biddy Hodson and Karel Roden, respectively-were implicitly linked to Lana and Larry Wachowski given the many allusions to the Matrix Trilogy in HELLBOY, suggesting that the Wachowskis had roasted Cox in that trilogy. Haupstein and Rasputin and their Evil Seven Gods of Chaos friends from Dimension X were also linked to CGI enhanced film art throughout the film, equating CGI with Evil again, and the victory over them with a victory over the blockbuster CGI enhanced beast.
The implicit support for Cox was perhaps not just due to admiring the unswerving dedication of Cox to the Indie Code, but also due to being pleased that Cox was fond of collaborating with Latina and Latino actors and actresses such as Jennifer Balgobin, Jaclyn Jonet, Miguel Sandoval y Del Zamora. The fact that Cox created DEATH AND THE COMPASS and the allegorical film, EL PATRULLERO (1991), in Mexico also no doubt pleased the man from Guadalajara. A commitment to Spanish speaking indie film art that Del Toro affirmed when he returned to the Temple Theatre with the twilit and allegorical film, PAN’S LABYRINTH (2006), a film that marked a new direction for the film artist as it united the indie horror artistry of films like CRONOS and THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE with the more detailed CGI enhancement of BLADE II and HELLBOY.
‘Because it is in pain that we find the meaning of life.’
Significantly, with its allusions to such allegorical Terry Gilliam films as TIME BANDITS (1981), BRAZIL (1985) and THE BROTHERS GRIMM (2005), Del Toro implied that he was addressing Gilliam in the film. And implying that he approved of the life and film art of Gilliam, given that Ofelia-who evoked Craig Warnock’s imaginative and intrepid Kevin in TIME BANDITS, and was played by Ivana Baquero-beat the Evil and implicitly Lucas linked Capitan Vidal-played by Sergi Lopez-and successfully returned to her true form as Princess Moanna, daughter of the King of the Underworld, in the end. Audiences implicitly agreed with Del Toro’s support of Gilliam as PAN’S LABYRINTH was very popular, giving Del Toro the confidence to implicitly return to the Temple Theatre with Blair, Evans, Hurt, Perlman and Doug Jones-who played telepathic aquaman Abe Sapiens in HELLBOY-and implicitly rally to the support of Cox one more time in the allegorical and CGI enhanced film, HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (2009).
‘Like a shadow in the night.’
Indeed, the return of Perlman as Hellboy reaffirmed that Del Toro was implicitly addressing Cox again in the otherwise soulless and lacklustre film. And implicitly allowing Cox to triumph over Sir Peter Jackson in the implicit form of Prince Nuada-played by Luke Goss-and all of the Academy Awards he won with the twilit and allegorical THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy given all of the allusions to that truly fantastic trilogy and the army of lookalike and Oscar statuette evoking golden mechanical warriors in HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY. Indeed, Del Toro implicitly reassured Cox that he should not be concerned about his lack of success at the Academy Awards. For he was El Pelicullero, the film artist with no name, and in no need of silly and insipid Oscars!
At any rate, and unfortunately for Del Toro, the success of the CGI enhanced BLADE II, HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY and PAN’S LABYRINTH appeared to go to his head, for the film artist and Perlman soon returned with a full throttle and hyper-CGI enhanced assault on Evil CGI enhanced blockbuster beasts in his next twilit and allegorical film, PACIFIC RIM (2013).
‘He was 2500 tons of awesome…or awful.
You know, whatever you wanna call it.’
Unfortunate, indeed, for despite its great production design, the film was even more vapid and vacuous than the blockbuster beasts it was mocking and defeating. So much so that the audience did not really care that an international group of sincere, selfless, righteously furious and determined men and women succeeded in using huge and CGI enhanced Jaeger battle bots to stop alienated, insidious and CGI enhanced blockbuster Kaiju beasts from Dimension X again-beastly friends of the Seven Gods of Chaos of HELLBOY?-from using a space/time rift between two tectonic plates in the Pacific Ocean to invade and destroy the Earth, in the end, implicitly affirming Del Toro’s determination to stop blockbuster beasts from overwhelming and destroying the Temple Theatre. This implicit determination was reaffirmed by the fact that one of the CGI enhanced blockbuster Kaiju beasts had a head that evoked an alien from ALIENS, one had a head that evoked a gremlin from GREMLINS, one had a head that evoked Jar Jar Binks-played by Ahmed Best-in the STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy, and one had a head that evoked the grandfather of all of the modern blockbuster beasts, the great white shark of the allegorical Spielberg film, JAWS (1975).
Curiously, PACIFIC RIM was also a nostalgic toast to the pre-digital celluloid film art era that grew up in did Del Toro-indeed, the presence of Perlman as the implicitly Cronenberg linked Hannibal Chau affirmed the film’s implicit support of pre-digital and CGI free film art. For, in the end, it was an analog Jaeger called the Gipsy Danger piloted by the implicitly Lucas linked Raleigh Becket and the implicitly Disney linked Maka Mori-a determined duo that evoked Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm and ILM the year before, and played by Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kukuchi, respectively-and not a digital Jaeger that defeated the final twilit trio of CGI enhanced blockbuster Kaiju beasts-including the biggest and nastiest one of all, a Category Five with an E.T. resembling head that openly linked the film to 1982, beastly blockbuster filmmercials and Spielberg via his allegorical and implicitly Lucas addressing film, E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982)-and destroyed their space/time tunnel to Earth, in the end. Thus, as Becket and Mori were implicitly linked to Lucas and Disney, Del Toro implicitly hoped that the merger of Disney and Lucasfilm/ILM would lead to the creation of a CGI enhanced film or a new STAR WARS series that would finally defeat the TZ disaster, free audiences, film art, film artists, and the Temple Theatre from the Twilight Zone, and kick off a daylit new era of CGI enhanced film art. Indeed, the presence of Idris Alba as Marshall Stacker Pentecost affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Disney, as Alba played Heimdall in the THOR films.
In addition, Del Toro also implicitly roasted Cameron and his latest wife, Suzi, in the form of Mark 1 T-90 Cherno Alpha Jaeger pilots Aleksis and Sasha Kaidanovsky-played by Robert Maillet and Heather Doerksen, respectively-and Sir Scott and his brother, Tony Scott, in the form of Mark 5 Striker Eureka Jaeger pilots, Herc and Chuck Hansen-played by Max Martini and Robert Kazinsky, respectively. Last but not least, Del Toro also implicitly roasted quarrelling telefilm reviewers, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, in the implicit form of kooky Kaiju experts, Doctors Newton Geiszler and Hermann Gottlieb-played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, respectively.
Overall, PACIFIC RIM was a surprisingly and unusually mindless and pointless Jaeger versus Kaiju smackdown from Del Toro, and one that stood in ironically marked contrast to the far better twilit and allegorical Andy Muschetti film, MAMA (2013), on which he acted as executive producer that same year. A film which was not only haunted by an all CGI enhanced ghost, but which featured two main adult leads in Lucas and Annabel-played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastain, respectively-who resembled and were implicitly linked to Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody. This implied that MAMA was a reply from Del Toro and Muschetti to the Cody scripted and implicitly Gardevil roasting Reitman film, YOUNG ADULT (2011), making it a part of that raucous and caterwauling sub-genre of dread allegorical Zone War film known as ‘Cinema Garite’.
For his part, Gareth Edwards implicitly replied to PACIFIC RIM and implicitly hoped that indie film art would triumph over the Disney/Lucasfilm merger like Godzilla, who was implicitly linked to indie CGI enhanced film art in general and to the indie CGI enhanced film art of Brandon and David Cronenberg in particular, triumphed over two nasty and implicitly Disney and Lucas linked CGI enhanced blockbuster beasts at the end of the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced film, GODZILLA (2014). As for Del Toro, he was implicitly impressed with the haunting ghost of MAMA and the performance of Chastain, as she joined Hunnam when the film artist put the A game that gave the world CRONOS, PAN’S LABYRINTH and THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE back on and returned to the Temple Theatre with an unusual and implicit political allegory in his next CGI enhanced, ghost haunted and CGI deploring allegorical film, CRIMSON PEAK (2015).
‘It’s more a story with a ghost in it.
The ghost is just a metaphor.’
Curiously, while ostensibly set in the United States in the late nineteenth century, it was noticeable that the film revolved around the ghost haunted and perhaps Sarah Polley linked young writer, Edith Cushing-played by Mia Wasikowska-and that her father, Carter E. Cushing-played by Jim Beaver-looked and talked like a male version of ‘Hurricane’ Hazel McCallion, longtime mayor of Mississauga, Ontario. It was also noticeable that after the brutal murder of her father, Cushing was swept away to the huge, labyrinthine and mouldering Allerdale Hall in Cumberland, England by Sir Thomas Sharpe-played by Tom Hiddleston-and his sinister sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe-played by Chastain-a twisted, murderous and incestuous brother and sister pair who resembled Justin and Margaret Trudeau. Indeed, the film long link of the Sharpe siblings to red via an idiosyncratic scarlet clay on the grounds of Allerdale Hall affirmed their implicit link to the Trudeaus, as red was the colour of the Liberal Party of Canada. As Sir Thomas was killed by the psychotic Lady Lucille when he tried to stop her from poisoning Cushing and robbing her of her father’s fortune, in the end, Del Toro implied that he felt that Margaret Trudeau was a poisonous influence who would destroy Justin if he was elected Prime Minister of Canada-and perhaps Canada, too, if Edith symbolized Canada?-and that he was trying to turn Canadian voters against the Trudeaus and the Liberal Party in the 2015 election.
Or was Del Toro worried that the re-elected Liberals would be the death of art in Canada, if the ghost haunted and ghost writing Edith symbolized Canadian literary art? For the link of Edith to the survival of Canadian art was implicitly affirmed by her surviving the troubled Sharpe siblings and, in the end, limping out of Allerdale Hall supporting her lover, the wounded young Doctor Alan McMichael-played by Hunnam-his surname linking him to the McMichael Gallery and, hence, to Canadian visual art. Or was there no allegory at all, and the three murders committed by Lucille that Thomas did not prevent that Edith uncovered while at Allerdale Hall symbolizing the three deaths that Spielberg could have prevented but didn’t in the TZ disaster, linking Edith and her writing to myself and my Zone War ‘scholarship’, explaining her father’s link to McCallion and Mississauga? Clearly, further reflection was needed to solve the allegorical mystery. Indeed, as Edith sagely noted, ‘…perhaps we only notice things when the time comes for us to see them.’ All that was certain was that Del Toro often alluded to the presciently twilit, implicitly Cronenberg addressing and allegorical Stanley Kubrick film, THE SHINING (1980), throughout CRIMSON PEAK.
Alas, after a puzzling but fine, moving and haunting film, Del Toro returned to the Temple Theatre with Jones as another amphibious man of the future-but where was Hellboy?-in the twilit and allegorical film, THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017), another unusually and uncharacteristically weak and incoherent film like PACIFIC RIM-and one, furthermore, that was altogether too green. Clearly, Del Toro needed to put on his A game again, and return to the Temple Theatre with another allegorical, elaborately designed, richly textured, horrific and narrative art loving and blockbuster CGI enhanced beast thrashing indie art film that was as haunting as it was haunted and that would again affirm that Del Toro, like his inspirational mentors Corben, Giger, King, Lovecraft, Poe, Shelley, Wrightson and the artists who contributed to HEAVY METAL, was at home with allegories.
Salvesen, Britt, et al. Guillermo Del Toro: at home with mon-
sters-inside his films, notebooks, and collections.
San Rafael, CA: Insight Editions, 2017.