WITH ALLEGORIES AND POLARITIES:
taking on and taking out
the CGI enhanced blockbuster beast
in the twilit and allegorical film art
of Guillermo Del Toro
by Gary W. Wright
Significantly, an exhibit that graced the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) a few years back openly and exuberantly affirmed that Guadalajara film artist Guillermo Del Toro Gomez was AT HOME WITH MONSTERS. Curiously, this exhibit also revealed why the film art of Del Toro was often a fusion of allegorical indie art film, horror film and narrative art, particularly horror narrative art. For the exhibit consisted of Del Toro’s massive personal collection of allegorical and mostly horror fiction, film, narrative art, paintings and sculptures-with a particular fondness for Grand Master Richard Corben, “Biomechanical” H.R. Giger, HEAVY METAL magazine, Screamin’ Stephen King, lovelorn H.P. Lovecraft, poignant Edgar A. Poe, Scary Mary Shelley and weird Berni 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 God, life, the universe and everything, and one that the baying, torch wielding and incoherent with rage 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 Del Toro, like most film artists of the dread allegorical Zone Wars, implicitly used to come to grips with the often furious, allegorical, and computer generated imagery (CGI) enhanced films that filled the Temple Theatre after the helicopter crash that killed actor/director/writer Vic Morrow and illegally hired and used child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le around 2:20 am in the early morning hours of July 23, 1982 on the George Folsey jr. produced John Landis set of the twilit, allegorical, Kathleen Kennedy associate produced, Frank Marshall produced and Landis and Steven Spielberg executive produced Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller docufeature film TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983). Indeed, an implicitly twilit pall was noticeable when Del Toro donned the writer/director hats and teamed up with Producciones Iguana and Ventana Films on the twilit and allegorical indie docufeature film CRONOS (1993), released on May 17, 1993.
You’ve been reborn.”
Curiously, the film began with a fairy tale evoking prologue, albeit a macabre fairy tale, that saw the Thomas Edison and Rutger Hauer resembling Italian alchemist Uberto Foucanelli-played by Mario I. Martinez-escape the Inquisition in Italia by fleeing to Veracruz, Mexico in 1536. Finding employment as the official watchmaker of the Vice-Roy of Veracruz, Foucanelli created a device that he called “…the Cronos Device” that would allow its possessor to be immortal. An immortality of sorts that Foucanelli apparently achieved for a while, for his pale undead person muttering “…suo tempore” was found with his chest mortally pierced by a glass shard or piece of wood amongst the rubble of a collapsed building, presumably in Veracruz, when the film jumped forward in time to 1937. A strangely undead body that led investigators led back to a mansion where the bleeding corpse of a naked man with his hands tied behind his back and hanging upside down from the ceiling bled silently into bowls of blood lying on the floor below, bowls of blood that implied that Foucanelli’s immortality required regular infusions of fresh blood like a vampire, making this prologue a macabre fairy tale, indeed. Then the camera point of view (POV) pulled into the missing and sinister left eye of the statue of a weathered and wooden male archangel already seen in a more pristine state when the Alchemist arrived in Veracruz and then dropped down into the depths of the inner depths of the statue to come to rest beside what looked like a curious gold egg, presumably the forementioned Cronos device.
Then the film jumped forward in time again to the newly dawning, awakening, multilingual sign and VW Bug filled and festive Christmas holiday streets of Mexico City on December 28, 1997 as the rest of the opening titles flashed on the screen. Soon we found ourselves at the stately home of kindly grandfather Jesus “Grey Jesus” Gris-who resembled Gepetto in the allegorical Wilfred Jackson film PINNOCHIO (1940), and was played by Federico Luppi-his young, sweet, silent and King resembling grandaughter Aurora-wearing a preppy red sweater and white blouse that evoked the red and white colours of Canada, and played by Tamara Shanath-and her younger and more severe single mother Mercedes-who reminded us that King grew up with a single mother, and was played by Margarita Isabel-having their breakfast before Gris and Aurora, now wearing a red and blue plastic Supergirl raincoat over her red and white combo, drove off in a black Peugeot license 252 FEZ for another day at the family’s Grand Bazaar Antiques shoppe located on its street at #36, an exotic name for a store filled with indie hand crafted antiques that evoked the Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
Significantly, one of the first customers that fateful morning spotted and partly unwrapped the now even older and more weathered wooden hand carved statue of the male archangel missing its sinister left eye first seen with the Alchemist in the macabre prologue. Soon after fully unravelling the angel’s paper wrapping, cockroaches began scurrying out of its empty left eye, cockroaches that evoked the cockroaches that ran riot in “They’re Creeping Up On You”, episode five of the eerily and prescient twilit, allegorical, implicitly Ozian themed film roasting and King scripted George A. Romero indie docufeature film CREEPSHOW (1982), an allusion that affirmed Aurora’s implicit link to King and the film’s implicit link to and interest in the twilit and disastrous year of 1982. Curiously, the allusion to CREEPSHOW also reminded us that the film was also a homage to the EC horror comics that King had grown up with as a youth, EC horror comics that King recreated with narrative artist Bernie Wrightson for a trade paperback narrative art version of the film that was sold at the time of the release of CREEPSHOW. Narrative art that Del Toro affirmed that he loved in the AT HOME WITH MONSTERS exhibit and reaffirmed in CRONOS, for the film was captured with brief shots usually taken with a stationary camera that revealed enough but not all audiences needed to know, prompting audiences to fill in the gaps themselves with their intelligence and imagination, just as they had to do with narrative art, turning CRONOS into a moving comic.
Just as curiously, the sight and sound of cockroaches scurrying out of the weathered archangel statue prompted Gris to pry the hollow statue out of its base and discover hidden in the base the curious and presumably Cronos device linked object that now looked more like a gold bug then a gold egg, and one that evoked the allegorical Poe story “The Gold Bug” (1843). A gold bug that soon sprouted two arms and four legs that gripped and punctured the sinister left palm of Gris with their spiked ends to the startled dismay of Gris and Aurora. Even more startling, on his second encounter with the gold bug later that night, after extending its puncturing arms and legs again, a golden metal and scorpion-like tail plunged its stinger into his left wrist and injected him with blissful eternity from the life filtering insect inside the device, rejuvenating him and giving him more pep in his step.
Significantly, this discovery soon brought the “Uncle” Walt Disney resembling and implicitly linked Uncle Dieter De La Guardia and his nephew, the Michael Eisner resembling and implicitly linked Angel De La Guardia, owner and manager respectively of Empresas De La Guardia-played by Claudio Brook and Ron Perlman, respectively-the cold, impersonal and labyrinthine metal factory that housed Empresas De La Guardia and its silent and anonymous employees in complete contrast to the small, warm and intimate wooden antique shoppe of la familia Gris. Curiously, Uncle De La Guardia lived alone in a carefully sterilized and anti-septic room hidden away on the top floor of the factory wasting away from cancer, a lonely and sterile existence that evoked the equally lonely, sterile and bug loathing existence of Upson Pratt-played by E.G. Marshall-in “They’re Creeping Up On You”. Fittingly, having found and read the Alchemist’s journal, Uncle De La Guardia lusted after the gold bug resembling Cronos device in order to cure himself of cancer before living forever, reminding us that Uncle Walt died of cancer to affirm the implicit link of De La Guardia to Disney.
Alas for Uncle De La Guardia and Gris, Angel lusted after power and money, so much so that he killed his Uncle and Gris and took over Empresas De La Guardia. And so Gris was able to return from the dead like his namesake like an undead vampire with the help of eternally luving Aurora and the intoxicating, life and death filtering and rejuvenating stings of the gold Cronos bug and, in a classic Western showdown on the roof of Empresas De La Guardia, kill Angel and save Aurora, in the end. An ending so triumphant it prompted sweet silent Aurora to mouth her first and only word of the film-“Grandfather!”-a heartfelt and luving sound that moved Gris so much he destroyed the gold Cronos bug, happily proclaiming afterwards that he was indeed her luving and mortal grandfather, Jesus Gris. And so the film ended with Gris with strange white snake-like skin back at home lying on top of his bed with luving Aurora curled up on his chest, either dying or soon to die, and free from vainglorious dreams of immortality. Thus, given that Eisner was at that time the new CEO of Disney, a CEO who was encouraging his animators to leave behind the hand animated films of Uncle Walt and embrace CGI enhanced hand animated films or even completely CGI animated films, causing the storied studio to be reborn but to be ahuman and undead like Gris, the sight and sound of Gris destroying the gold Cronos bug and then happily reaffirming his vital humanity implied the hope of Del Toro that Disney would also give up on its madcap dreams of rejuvenating itself with CGI and instead reaffirm its vital humanity by returning to its hand animated film art.
Curiously, from the first artistic and elaborately designed frame to the last, CRONOS displayed Del Toro’s characteristic fusion of indie art and horror film with narrative art, an indie art/horror moving comic style that affirmed that his idiosyncratic vision was already well established by the time of his first indie allegorical film. Significantly, after affirming with CRONOS that he was at home with allegories as he was with monsters, Del Toro now ironically affirmed that he was also at home with the CGI enhanced blockbuster beasts he had implicitly blasted in CRONOS if he needed the money, more directorial experience or both when he donned the director/co-writer hats and teamed up with Dimension Films on the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature moving comic MIMIC (1997), released on August 19, 1997 and inspired by the allegorical Donald A. Wollheim short story “Mimic” (1942).
“The Judas evolved to mimic its predators.
Significantly, the film began with two quick and immobile shots of a city-supposedly New York but actually Toronto, which was fitting given the allusions to the eerily twilit and allegorical David Cronenberg indie docufeature film VIDEODROME (1983) in CRONOS-in the midst of a snowswept winter, quick shots that affirmed that the moving comic style developed by Del Toro for CRONOS was continuing in his second film. Then the opening titles-the second of which proudly read “…a film by guillermo del toro”-flashed on the screen, opening titles filled with shots of dead insects mounted with pins contrasted with shots of living insects, including cockroaches, scurrying about, shots that were superimposed on top of newspaper articles about an ominous and cockroach born disease called Strickler’s Disease that was killing the children of New York, immediately linking the film to CRONOS and its crawling cockroaches and nods to CREEPSHOW and establishing the buggy and insectuous theme of MIMIC. Then the film cut to two smart and courageous New York Centre for Disease Control (CDC) entomologists, the Kennedy and Spielberg resembling and implicitly linked Doctors Susan Tyler and Peter Mann-played by Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam, respectively-taking a hybrid new CGI insect that they called the “Judas breed” that was a fusion of mantis and termite DNA and that secreted a kind of deadly foam into the sewers to kill the cockroaches infected with Strickler’s disease, a desperate plan that worked. Significantly, this triumph over the bugs evoked the triumph over the deadly hybrid CGI spiders and their equally deadly and even more smart and nasty CGI spider queen at the end of the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and Kennedy and Spielberg executive produced Marshall docufeature film ARACHNOPHOBIA (1990), affirming the implicit link of Tyler and Mann to Kennedy and Spielberg.
Three years later, however, Drs. Mann and Tyler discovered that their deadly Judas breed had not only not died out after performing its cockroach exorcism, it had multiplied, grown to a truly beastly and blockbuster human size, a human size accentuated by the fact that it had developed human characteristics like lungs and the ability to mimic humans, an ability that reaffirmed the implication already seen in CRONOS that Del Toro was worried that the CGI enhancement of film art was robbing film of its vital humanity. Significantly, the presence of the mutant Judas infestation was announced when a huge “baby” mutant sold to Dr. Tyler by two intrepid kid insect hunters, the Francis Coppola and George Lucas resembling and implicitly 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 Judas bugs also symbolized foolish lusts for fortune, glory and immortality in MIMIC. Indeed, the fact that Davis and Ricky gave the baby bug to Dr. Tyler carefully boxed up in a Corn Flakes box openly linked the Judas bug to beastly blockbuster corporate lusts. However, unlike Angel and Uncle De La Guardia, whose obsessive lusts for fortune, glory and immortality led to their deaths at the end of CRONOS, Drs. Tyler and Mann managed to desperately fight off and triumph over the Judas infestation in the explosively exorcising and eucatastrophic end. Thus, Del Toro and Dimension implied their hopes that Kennedy and Spielberg would also triumph over their beastly lusts to use films like ARACHNOPHOBIA and the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and Ozian themed film JURASSIC PARK (1993) to achieve blockbuster fortune, glory and immortality and commit themselves to creating more serious film art for film art’s sake.
In addition, the sight and sound of the Gepetto evoking and Disney resembling and implicitly linked Manny-played by Giancarlo Giannini-being killed by the male CGI King Judas bug shortly before the end of the film implied that Del Toro was even more convinced that Disney’s embrace of CGI enhanced animated film art was killing its vital humanity, a conviction no doubt increased by the arrival in the theatres only two years before of the twilit, allegorical and all CGI John Lasseter film TOY STORY (1995). Curiously, however, the fact that Manny’s strange, indie, spoon playin’ and implicitly Stanley Kubrick linked son Chuy-pronounced “Chewie”, and played by Alexander Goodwin-survived his encounter with the Judas breed implied that Del Toro believed that Kubrick and his film art would survive the new world of CGI enhanced film art or that the beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster bugs recognized that Kubrick was already a blockbuster beast like them. Significantly, the sight and sound of Davis and Ricky being brutally murdered by the CGI King Judas bug implied that Del Toro and Dimension believed that Coppola and Lucas would not survive the new CGI enhanced film art era and evoked the brutal deaths of Chen and Le in the TZ disaster, affirming the implicit twilit theme of MIMIC.
And so MIMIC was another fine and memorable indie docufeature moving comic that reaffirmed that an accomplished, confident and creative new film artist had arrived in the Temple Theatre, and furthermore one that was shrewd and talented enough to implicitly pull off the difficult and contradictory trick of using a beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster film to implicitly roast beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster films. And so an implicit interest in Kubrick returned when the monster luvin’ film artist left behind his beastly Del Toro side and embraced his truly solid gold “Del Oro” indie film art for film art’s sake side again when he donned the writer/director hats, teamed up again with Luppi and CRONOS director of photography Guillermo Navarro and returned to the Temple Theatre with the twilit, allegorical and slightly CGI enhanced indie docufeature film EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO aka THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE (2001), released on April 20, 2001.
“What is a ghost?
…An emotion suspended in time.”
Curiously, after a few opening titles-one of which identified the film as “…una pelicula de GUILLERMO DEL TORO”-the titles ended and then there was a shot of a blockbuster CGI bomb falling out of a bomb bay door on a nighttime target before the doors closed, followed by the sight and sound of a Kubrick resembling and implicitly linked boy lying on the ground bleeding from a head wound being attended to by another distraught boy, and then the sight and sound of the bleeding boy now tied up and falling down through depths of yellow water while the distraught boy attending him squatted above the pool of water. At this point the opening titles began again, superimposed on top of the eponymous image of what appeared to be the fetus of a boy with a spiney and devilish backbone, indeed, floating in an amber liquid, a fetus that resembled and evoked the fetus of the Star Child seen at the end of the allegorical Kubrick indie docufeature artbuster 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), implying an interest in addressing Kubrick in EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO and a fitting interest, given that EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO was released in 2001. This allusion to Kubrick reminded us that the opening CGI shot of a blockbuster bomb falling on a nighttime target evoked the blockbuster nuclear bomb ridden by a whooping and implicitly John Ford linked Major T.J. “King” Kong-played by Slim Pickens-that dropped out of the bomb bay of an American B-52 bomber on a Soviet target at the end of the allegorical Kubrick indie docufeature film DR. STRANGELOVE; OR, HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964), reaffirming the implicit interest in Kubrick in EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO.
Then the opening titles disappeared, and were replaced by the sight and sound of a young boy named Carlitos-played by Fernando Tielve-being dropped off by two men, Ayala and the Disney resembling and implicitly linked Dominguez, at the isolated Santa Lucia orphanage located on a desert plain in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Here we discovered that the blockbuster CGI bomb that fell on its nighttime target in the prologue had been intended for the orphanage and had not exploded. Instead the huge bomb had simply embedded itself on landing in the courtyard in the centre of the orphanage, where it had been defused to prevent it from exploding and then left to brood silently over the orphanage and its inhabitants in a grim reminder of the deadly costs of beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster lusts.
Curiously, no sooner did Carlitos arrive then he saw the ghost of the boy-played by Andreas Munoz-who was seen dying in the prologue of the film and who turned out to be named Santi. This ability to see the ghost of Santi evoked the ability of Deetz-played by Winona Ryder-to see the ghosts that haunted the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Tim Burton animaction film BEETLEJUICE (1988), implicitly linking Carlito to Burton. Indeed, the fact that the face of the ghost of Santi was as pale as that of the implicitly David Lynch linked Edward Scissorhands-played by Johnny Depp-in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Burton animaction artbuster EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) affirmed the implicit link of Carlitos to Burton. A fitting reminder of Lynch’s implicit link to Scissorhands, for soon Carlitos met the implicitly Lynch linked head master of the school, Doctor Casares-played by Luppi-and Carmen, the Isabella Rossellini evoking principal of the school-played by Marisa Paredes. Curiously, Carlito also soon met the other male orphans of the school, including the implicitly Coppola, Landis and Lucas linked trio of Galvez, Jaime and Owl-played by Adrien Lamana, Inigo Garces and Javier G. Sanchez, respectively.
Just as curiously, Principal Carmen and most of the orphan boys were killed in a blockbuster explosion set off not by the brooding blockbuster bomb but by the Evil, gold bar lusting and implicitly Spielberg linked Jacinto-played by Eduardo Noriega-and Dr. Casares died of his wounds soon after, only to haunt the survivors like the ghost of the Overlook Hotel caretaker Delbert Grady-played by Philip Stone-in the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical and implicitly Cronenberg roasting Kubrick indie docufeature artbuster THE SHINING (1980) in another affirmation that Kubrick was being addressed on one level in EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO. However, Carlitos, Galvez, Jaime and Owl survived the explosion, and hunted down and mortally wounded Jacinto on the lip of the basement pool before tossing him in, where he was caught in an eternal embrace by Santi and dragged down into the depths of the pool to his death, in the end, a fitting demise given that not long before Jacinto had been revealed by Jaime to be the killer of Santi. Thus, Del Toro implied his hope that Spielberg would be killed by his beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster lusts and his hope that Burton, Coppola, Landis and Lucas would succeed, and his fear that Lynch would fail, in the new millenium of CGI enhanced film art.
And so EL ESPANZO DEL DIABLO was another fine film that again affirmed that Del Toro was indeed at home with polarities as well as allegories and monsters. And so the quick edited moving comic style of CRONOS and MIMIC was abandoned for longer takes in EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO, creating a more conventional cinematic style, an abandonment of the moving comic style that made it ironic that, after Del Toro was implicitly roasted as Bubbles-played by Mike Smith-stuck between the implicitly Cameron and Spielberg linked Ricky and Julian-played by Robb Wells and John Paul Tremblay, respectively-in the twilit and allegorical telefilm series TRAILER PARK BOYS (2001-18), the first episode of which aired shortly after the release of EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO on April 22, 2001, the Guadalajara film artist quickly teamed up with Marvel Comics and New Line Cinema to again leave behind his indie art/horror Del Oro side and again embraced his beastly manotaur Del Toro side and the CGI enhanced blockbuster beast when he donned the director’s hat and teamed up again with Navarro, Perlman and Norman Reedus-who played bass playin’ Jeremy in MIMIC-to openly affirm his fondness for horror narrative art and moving comics in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced super satirical animaction film BLADE II (2002), released on March 21, 2002, based on a character created by Genial Gene Colan and Marvelous Marv Wolfman for Marvel Comics and inspired by the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Stephen Norrington super satirical animaction film BLADE (1998).
…I hate vampires.”
Curiously, the film began with the sight of a red and white #52 streetcar trundling down a nighttime city street toward the camera from the left side of the screen to the right, evoking the red and white streetcars of Toronto. However, after the street car rolled offstage into the right, a title revealed that we were outside the Parizska Blood Bank in Prague, Czech Republic. Soon we were inside the blood bank, watching and listening as a perhaps Cameron linked and CGI enhanced rogue vampire named Jared Nomak-played by Luke Goss-turned the tables on the pragmatically sneaky vampires that ran the blood bank and killed ‘em all. Then the implicitly Landis linked part human/part vampire vampire hunter/killer Eric “Blade” Brooks aka “Daywalker”-played by Wesley Snipes-arrived on the scene in Prague to hunt down and free from vampire imprisonment his weathered and implicitly Lucas linked mentor Abraham Whistler-played by Kris Kristofferson. Curiously, three of the vampires who were imprisoning Whistler looked like the three members of the Toronto based band Rush, implicitly linking Prague to Toronto again. Thus, it was fitting that one of the vampire jailors was named Rush-played by Santiago Segura.
Just as curiously, the fact that Blade discovered Whistler floating in a tank affirmed his implicit link to Lucas, for the sight and sound evoked the sight and sound of Luke Skywalker-played by Mark Hamill-floating in a healing and rejuvenating bacta tank in the Rebel base on Hoth at the beginning of the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and implicitly Spielberg roasting Irvin Kershner indie docufeature film STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980). Allusions to the allegorical Lucas indie docufeature film THX 1138 (1971) as Blade drove away with Whistler to his secret hideout reaffirmed the implicit link of Whistler to Lucas. Back at that secret hideout, Blade, Whistler and the implicitly Terry Gilliam linked Josh aka Scud-played by Reedus-were soon teaming up to take on the implicitly Sophia Carmina (SCC) Coppola and Eddie Murphy linked Nyssa and Asad-played by Leonor Varela and Danny J. Jules, respectively. Surviving the brawl, Asad and Nyssa took the vamp bustin’ trio back to meet Nyssa’s implicitly Coppola linked and Uncle De La Guardia evoking father Overlord Eli Damaskinos-played by Thomas Kretschmann-the head of the Vampire Nation, who persuaded them team up with Asad, Nyssa and the Blood Pack-which included Perlman’s Reinhardt-to take on and take out the CGI enhanced Nomak, the rogue vampire seen in the prologue and the equally CGI enhanced vampires he had infected with his rogue strain.
Significantly, while Asad and the Blood Pack were killed by Nomak and his rogue CGI vampires and the double-crossing Scud was killed by Blade, Blade, Nyssa and Whistler killed the rest of the vamps before Nomak killed Overlord Damaskinos and then himself. And so the film ended with Blade carrying Nyssa outside and cradling her in his arms as she dissolved away in the dawning sunlight of her first and last sunrise. And so Del Toro implied his fear that Cameron, Coppola, SCC, and Gilliam would not survive the neo eon of CGI enhanced film art and his hope that Landis and Lucas would survive in the new millenium. An implicit interest in Lucas that returned when Del Toro retained his beastly and bullish blockbuster side, donned the co-writer/director hats and teamed up again with Navarro, Perlman and BLADE II composer Marco Beltrami on a film that openly united his luv for indie art/horror films, horror narrative art and moving comics, the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie super satirical animaction film HELLBOY (2004), released on March 30, 2004 and inspired by the character that was created by Mike Mignola, and sometimes drawn by Grand Master Corben, for Dark Horse Comics.
Significantly, the film began with the camera point of view (POV) hurtling down through clouds towards an island off the coast of Scotland in 1944, a beginning that evoked the sight and sound of the cockpit POV of young Skywalker and R2D2-played by Kenny Baker-hurtling down in their X-wing fighter through stormy and turbulent clouds towards the planet Dagobah in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRES STRIKES BACK. This implicit interest in Lucas was reaffirmed by the familiar sight and sound of Angus MacInnes returning to the Temple Theatre as Sergeant Whitman, an intrepid American officer who led a U.S. Commando mission on the unnamed Scottish island on October 9, 1944 to prevent the Nazis led by Hitler’s top assassin Karl R. Kroenen-played by Ladislav Beran-and his Evil allies, the implicitly James and Suzy Cameron linked Grigori E. Rasputin and his twisted sweetie Ilsa-played by Karl Roden and Biddy Hodson, respectively-from conducting a sinister occult ceremony along the ley lines that intersected on the ruins of the island’s Trondham Abbey to bring the blockbuster CGI beasts of the Ogdru Jahadr-!the Seven Gods of Chaos!-to Earth to help the Nazis take over the world. For McInnes played the implicitly Kubrick linked Gold Leader of the Y-wing fighters that attacked the Death Moon at the end of the allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed and implicitly Spielberg roasting Lucas indie docufeature film STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977).
Of course, the sinister and grandiose occult ceremony evoked the equally sinister and grandiose occult ceremony at the end of the eerily and presciently twilit, allegorical, Ozian themed, Lucas executive produced and implicitly William Friedkin roasting Spielberg indie docufeature film RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), also affirming the film’s implicit interest in Lucas. Thus, the implication was that, after Sgt. Whitman and his howlin’ Commandos stopped the insidious ceremony, the red CGI Hellboy that popped out of the portal to the realm of the Ogdru Jahad was linked to Lucas. Indeed, the fact that Lucas was born in 1944, the year of the commando operation, affirmed the implicit link of Hellboy to Lucas. The sight and sound of the l’il red CGI monkey being lured out of hiding by a Baby Ruth chocolate bar held by the implicitly Spielberg linked Professor Trevor Broom-played by Kevin Trainor-also affirmed the implicit link of Hellboy to Lucas, reminding us of the fondness of Lucas for chocolate bars.
Curiously, after an opening titles evoking sequence that lacked opening titles as in BLADE II, the film jumped forward in time to the Hallowe’en celebrating present and sight and sound of the Chris Columbus resembling and implicitly linked ex-FBI Agent John T. Myers-played by Rupert Evans-joining the cat and still Baby Ruth chocolate bar luvin’ and implicitly Lucas linked adult Hellboy-played by Perlman-his amphibian and C3PO evoking friend Abraham “Abe” Sapien-played by Doug Jones-the implicitly Rick McCallum linked Agent Clay-played by Corey Johnson-and their still implicitly Spielberg linked and fatherly mentor Professor Trevor Broom-played by John Hurt in the present-at the ultra-secret Section 51 the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BRPD) aka the Squeaky Clean Waste Management Services in Newark, New Jersey. No sooner did Agent Myers arrive then the Section 51 was battling a blockbuster CGI enhanced beast named Sammael-played by Brian Steele-at the Machen Library, a blockbuster CGI beastie who quickly led Hellboy and his Section 51 friends back to the resurrected Kroenen and Rasputin and his somehow still young sweetie Ilsa, leading to another blockbuster battle to prevent them from again trying to bring the dread Ogdru Jahad to Earth. A blockbuster battle that killed Agent Clay, Prof. Broom, Kroenen, Rasputin and Ilsa but left Hellboy, Myers and Hellboy’s implicitly Marcia Lucas linked sweetie Elizabeth “Liz” Sherman-played by Millie Wilkie as a youth, and by Selma Blair as a young adult, respectively-alive, implying the fear of Del Toro that the Camerons, McCallum and Spielberg would not survive the neo eon of CGI enhanced film art but his hope that Columbus and Lucas would. At any rate, Del Toro left behind his beastly side again and embraced his Del Oro side when he donned the writer/director/co-producer hats and teamed up again with Jones and Navarro and with Picture House, Wild Bunch, Telecinco and Tequila Gang-one of the production partners on EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO-on the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature film EL LABERTINO DEL FAUNO aka PAN’S LABYRINTH (2006), released on May 27, 2006.
“A long time ago…”
Curiously, the film began with titles placing the events of the film in Spain in 1944, several years after the Civil War seen in EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO, with fierce fighting still taking place between fascists and Rebels, evoking the 1944 set prologue of HELLBOY and the year of the birth of Lucas again. Then the first images were of the sight and sound of a Natalie Portman resembling brunette girl lying on the ground with her left hand covered in blood, evoking the sight of Santi lying on the ground and bleeding from a head wound at the beginning of EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO. Then the camera POV zoomed into the girl’s dark brown or black left eye, and, once inside, fell down into a CGI fairy tale world called the Underground Realm where there were “…no lies or pain.” Here we heard and saw the story of one Princess Moanna, who longed to be a part of the human world with its “…blue skies, soft breeze and sunshine” so much, she left the subconscious Underground Realm by a spiral staircase that took her up and out into the real world. Here the bright lights blinded her and she lost her memory, experienced human life, and in time grew old and died. But her father held out hope that one day the soul of Princess Moanna would be reborn, and he would see his daughter again.
Then, we found ourselves in the back seat of a car with the brunette girl already seen in the prologue who turned out to be the fairy tale luving Ofelia-played by Ivana Baquero-and her SCC resembling and implicitly linked pregnant mother Carmen-played by the fittingly named Ariadna Gil. Significantly, when the car stopped to allow Carmen to get out and throw up, we found ourselves in a forest similar to that seen on the forest moon of Endor in the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Ozian themed, Lucas executive produced and implicitly Spielberg roasting Richard Marquand indie docufeature film STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983), implicity linking Carmen and Ofelia to Lucas. Here Ofelia got out of the car, found a stone eye on the ground and placed it in the empty right eye socket of a nearby stone statue, causing a green CGI fairy in the shape of a mantis-like insect to fly out of the statue’s open mouth. Then Ofelia and her mother returned to their car, which turned out to be part of a convoy that resembled one seen in an action packed sequence in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, again implicitly linking Carmen, Ofelia and the convoy to Lucas.
Soon the convoy arrived at an isolated fascist mountain base overseen by the Kathryn Bigelow resembling and implicitly linked housekeeper Mercedes-played by Maribel Verdu-where the facists led by Ofelia’s new step-father, the time obsessed and ambiguously linked Captain Vidal-played by Sergi Lopez-were launching attacks on a Rebel group led by the brother of Mercedes named Pedro-played by Roger Casamajor. Here on arrival, Ofelia discovered that the green CGI insect fairy had followed the convoy, and promptly led the girl off to a nearby labyrinth when she got out of the car. Later that night, the insect fairy visited Ofelia and her mother in their bed, turned into a more traditional Tinkerbell evoking fairy, and led Ofelia out into the labyrinth. Here another but shorter spiral staircase led down to an underground chamber where Ofelia and the green fairy met the film’s eponymous and perhaps Del Toro linked Pan the CGI enhanced faun-played by Jones and voiced by Pablo Adan, respectively-who revealed that Ofelia was the reincarnation of Moanna. Significantly, Pan also revealed that the underground chamber was a portal that could be used to return Ofelia/Moanna to the Underground Realm if Ofelia/Moanna proved she was not mortal by accomplishing three tasks with the help of the green fairy and a blue and red fairy released by Pan and a book called The Book Of The Crossroads.
To the frustration of Ofelia, The Book Of The Crossroads was initially blank, but in time CGI pictures and words slowly revealed the first task, which was to feed three magic stones to a monstrous, parasitical and Jabba the Hutt evoking toad deep in a cavern below a dying fig tree to get the toad to throw up a golden key. Taking the golden key back to Pan in the labyrinth, the faun told her to keep the key for the next task and gave her a piece of chalk to accomplish that task. In time, Ofelia used that chalk to draw a door on her bedroom wall, open the door to a hidden chamber, descend into the hidden chamber to open a smaller door on the wall with the golden key, take a golden dagger from inside and leave before the sand in an hourglass ran out and the blind white monster-also played by Jones-that guarded the chamber woke up. Alas, while Ofelia accomplished the task, she also ate two grapes from a banquet table laid out in the chamber, causing the monster to eat the blue and green fairies when it woke up. Luckily, Ofelia and the green fairy escaped from the hidden chamber just in time to avoid being eaten by the white monster.
Alas for Ofelia and the green fairy, however, Pan was so angry that she had eaten the two grapes despite being warned not to eat anything in the chamber of the white monster that the furious faun pronounced her impure and abandoned her to her mortal fate. Significantly, however, Pan later changed their mind, and granted Ofelia the ability to return to the Underground Realm by sacrificing her baby brother with the gold dagger. Luckily for Ofelia, she refused, proving that she indeed had an immortal soul and was worthy of returning to the Underground Realm. Curiously, this return was accomplished by the sight and sound of Ofelia being shot and killed by Capt. Vidal in real life, liberating her soul and causing it to return to the Underground Realm to be embraced as Princess Moanna by Pan and her father and mother, the King and Queen of the Underground Realm-played by Luppi and Gil, respectively. Curiously, as Princess Moanna was being welcomed back to the eternal Underground Realm, Capt. Vidal was caught by Mercedes and the rest of the Rebels and shot and killed by Pedro in the real world, in the end. Thus, given that Ofelia/Moanna resembled and was implicitly linked to Portman, who played Padme Amidala of Naboo in the STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy (1999-2006), and her pure and immortal soul triumphed over disapproving critics like Capt. Vidal, in the end, Del Toro implied his hope that the then reviled Lucas and his equally reviled STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy would triumph over their critics in the long run, in the end.
An implicit interest in supporting Lucas that continued when, after embracing his Del Oro side, Del Toro then embraced his beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster Del Toro side again when he donned the writer/director hats and teamed up again with Blair, Goss, Hurt, Jones, Mignola, Navarro, Perlman, Segura, the irritating and implicitly Alfred Hitchcock linked BPRD bigwig Thomas “Tom” Manning-played by Jeffrey Tambor-and HELLBOY production designer Stephen Scott to implicitly toast Lucas again in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced super satirical animaction film HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (2008), released on June 28, 2008.
“They don’t even like me.”
Significantly, the film began in familiar fashion with a prologue flashback that saw Professor Trevor Broom-played again by Hurt-read a boy Hellboy-played by Montse Ribe-a fairy tale that told the all CGI story of the ancient wars between the armies of the Elves and Men and the creation of a mechanical Golden Army by the King of the Elves to fight and feat the army of Men. However, when the Golden Army did its job to well and too unfeelingly, it was locked in a secret underground chamber, and the crown that controlled the Golden Army was broken into pieces and the pieces dispersed…forevermore. Then the sight and sound of the implicitly Lucas linked Hellboy-played again by Perlman-teaming up again with BPRD colleagues Abe Sapien and Elizabeth “Liz” Sherman-played again by Jones and Blair, respectively-triumphing over the implicitly Sir Peter Jackson linked and Golden Army control crown recovering Prince Nuada-played by Goss-and all of the Academy Awards won by Sir Jackson with the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced THE LORD OF THE RINGS Trilogy (2000-02) in the implicit form of Nuada’s army of lookalike, Oscar statuette evoking and inhuman CGI golden mechanical warriors, an implicit allegorical intent affirmed by the film’s allusions to THE LORD OF THE RINGS Trilogy, reaffirmed that Del Toro was implicitly rallying to the support of the beleaguered Lucas again and again ironically using a beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster to defeat beastly CGI enhanced blockbusters in HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY. And then Del Toro embraced his Del Oro side again when he put on the executive producer hat to team up with Andy Muschetti on the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie docufeature film MAMA (2013), released on January 17, 2013.
“A ghost is an emotion bent out of shape,
condemned to repeat itself,
time and time again,
until it rights the wrong that was done.”
Curiously, the film began one cold winter day with the distraught Jeffrey Desange-played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau-killing two business partners at work, returning home to kill his wife, and then fleeing in his pricey Benz with his two young daughters Victoria and Lilly Desange-played by Morgan McGarry and Maya and Sierra Dawe, respectively. When his car skidded off the snowy road into the neighbouring woods, Desange carried his daughters to a nearby beat up cabin. Here he prepared to kill them both with his gun and then himself, but was stopped and killed before he could by a blockbuster CGI ghost. Significantly, the ghost was seen by Victoria, reminding us that Carlitos was able to see the ghost of Santi in EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO.
Five years later, a Sir Ridley Scott resembling and implicitly linked searcher named Burnsie-played by David Fox-found the two girls-now played by Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse, respectively-still alive but wild and feral in the cabin in the twilit section of the woods known as Sector 1-7-12-33 and gave them up to the care of Desange’s implicitly Jason Reitman linked twin brother Lucas “Luke” Desange and his implicitly Diablo Cody linked girlfriend Annabel-played by Coster-Waldau and Jessica Chastain, respectively-an implicit interest in Cody and Reitman affirmed by the film’s allusions to the brash, confident, twilit, allegorical, slightly CGI enhanced, implicitly Lucas roasting and Cody written Reitman indie docufeature film JUNO (2007), the equally brash, confident, twilit, allegorical, slightly CGI enhanced and equally implicitly Lucas roasting indie docufeature film UP IN THE AIR (2009) and the twilit and allegorical Ivan Reitman docufeature film GHOSTBUSTERS (1984). Alas, as Annabel and Luke did their best to reach out to, calm and civilize the two wild childs, they discovered to their dismay that the blockbuster CGI ghost in the cabin, which turned out to be that of an insane and insanely possessive nineteenth century mother and asylum patient Edith Brennan-played by Javier Botet and Hannah Cheeseman, and voiced by Laura Guiteras, Melina Matthews and Jane Moffat, respectively-had accompanied Victoria and Lilly-as silent, solemn and watchful as Aurora in CRONOS-to their new home and was eager for deadly mischief. So deadly that Mama killed the helpful but vainglorious, library luvin’ and perhaps Wright linked Doctor Gerald Dreyfuss-played by Daniel Kash-and then Lilly before disappearing in a cloud of CGI butterflies mixed with a few CGI birds, apparently for good.
Thus, as Annabel, Luke and Victoria were left alive, in the end, Del Toro and Muschietti implied their hope that Cody and Reitman would fend off the blockbuster CGI beast and the poor ol’ Gardevil and continue to make slightly CGI enhanced indie docufeature film art. Slightly CGI enhanced indie docufeature film art like MAMA that affirmed the importance of perfecting CGI after the TZ disaster, for the dangerous sequences on set were pulled off with CGI so that four more children were not killed in the production of the film. Alas, however, after another fine Del Oro film, the monster luvin’ film artist really embraced his beastly Del Toro blockbuster side again when he donned the writer/director/co-producer hats and teamed up again with Navarro, Perlman, Segura and MIMIC and longtime Cronenberg production designer Carol Spier to take on and take out the CGI enhanced blockbuster beast in ridiculously over the top abandon in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced animaction film PACIFIC RIM (2013), released on July 1, 2013.
“He was 2500 tons of awesome…
whatever you wanna call it.”
Unfortunate, indeed, for despite its great CGI and production design, the boffo beastly blockbuster film was even more brainless and pointless than the CGI enhanced blockbuster beasts that it implicitly mocked. So brainless and pointless that it was hard to care that an international group of sincere, selfless, righteously furious and indomitable men and women succeeded in using huge and CGI enhanced Jaeger battle bots to stop equally huge, alienated and CGI enhanced blockbuster Kaiju beasts from Dimension X-who evoked the equally monstrous and CGI enhanced Seven Gods of Chaos of HELLBOY and resembled and were implicitly linked to blockbuster beasts like the great white shark of the eerily twilit and allegorical Spielberg indie docufeature film JAWS (1975) and the gremlins of the twilit, allegorical, Kennedy, Marshall and Spielberg executive produced and implicitly Landis addressing Dante disaster GREMLINS (1984)-from using a space/time portal between two tectonic plates in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to invade and destroy the Earth, in the end, implicitly affirming Del Toro’s determination to stop CGI enhanced blockbuster beasts from invading and destroying the theatres of Earth. Curiously, two neural linked pilots were needed to operate the Jaegers, with the implicitly James and Suzy Cameron linked Aleksis and Sasha Kaidanovsky-played by Robert Maillet and Heather Doerksen, respectively-piloting the Mark 1 T-90 Cherno Alpha, and the implicitly Sir Ridley and Tony Scott linked Hercules “Herc” and Chuck Hansen-played by Max Martini and Robert Kazinsky, respectively-piloting the Mark 5 Striker Eureka.
However, leading the blockbuster beast battlin’ way and triumphing in the end over the largest kooky kaiju of all, a Class 5 behemoth that evoked the stranded on Earth alien of the eerily twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Spielberg docufeature film E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982), were the dynamic duo of Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori-played by Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kukuchi, respectively-pilots of the analog and nuclear powered Gipsy Danger, an analog triumph over digital blockbuster beasts that implicitly reaffirmed the wistful hope of Del Toro that better film art would triumph over the CGI enhanced blockbuster beast. Curiously, as the sight and sound of Becket and Mori working together to take on and take out blockbuster CGI enhanced beasts evoked the sight and sound of the implicitly Reitman and Michele Lee linked Scott Pilgrim and Knives Chau-played by Michael Cera and Ellen Wong, respectively-working together to take on and take out video game baddies in the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and implicitly Reitman roasting and toasting Edgar Wright indie super satirical animaction film SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD (2010), the implication was that Becket and Mori were linked to Wright and his film art. Last but not least, Del Toro implicitly roasted Cronenberg in the form of black market kaiju parts dealer Hannibal Chau-played by Perlman-and quarrelling film reviewers Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel in the form of equally quarrelling kaiju experts Doctors Newton Geiszler and Hermann Gottlieb-played by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman, respectively.
Curiously, the following year Del Toro was implicitly roasted and toasted in the form Drax the Destroyer-played by Dave Bautista-in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced James Gunn super satirical animaction film GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014), released on July 21, 2014. And then, after embracing his beastly Del Toro side way too much and reaffirming the self defeating nature of using a blockbuster CGI enhanced beast to defeat the blockbuster CGI enhanced beast, the man from Guadalajara embraced his arty Del Oro side again when he donned the writer/director hats and teamed up with Chastain, Gorman, Hunnam, Jones and Universal Pictures on the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced docufeature film CRIMSON PEAK (2015), released on September 25, 2015.
“It’s more a story with a ghost in it.
The ghost is just a metaphor.”
Curiously, the film began in the late nineteenth century in Buffalo, New York with the ten year old Edith Cushing-played by Sofia Wells-losing her mother to black cholera, reminding us that Sarah Polley lost her mother when she was girl, implicitly linking Cushing to Polley. Significantly, unlike Polley, Cushing soon saw the ominously forewarning ghost of her mother, evoking previous ghost haunted children like Carlitos in EL ESPINAZO DEL DIABLO and Lilly and Victoria in MAMA. Then the film leapt ahead to Edith as a beautiful young adult and aspiring ghost story writer-played by Mia Wasikowska. Alas for Cushing, soon the insidious and blockbuster loot lusting Sir Thomas Sharpe-played by Tom Hiddleston-seduced, married and led Cushing away to his huge, labyrinthine, mouldering and sinister Allerdale Hall in Cumberland, England. Here Cushing was poisoned and almost killed by Sir Sharpe and his even more Evil sister Lady Lucille Sharpe-played by Chastain-who turned out to be a truly twisted, incestuous and murderous brother and sister pair who tried to kill Cushing to get at the wealth left to her by her father Carter E. Cushing-played by Jim Beaver-who was murdered by Lady Lucille before the trio journeyed to Allerdale Hall.
Luckily, Cushing wised up to the diabolical plot and foiled her murderers with the help of the good Doctor Alan McMichael-his surname linking him to the McMichael Gallery and, hence, to Canadian visual art, and played by Hunnam-before the sinister Sharpe sisters were both stabbed to death, in the end, implying the hope of Del Toro that Polley and her indie docufeature film art would triumph over beastly blockbuster film art and the film artists who created it in general or those who created it for Disney in particular, given that CRIMSON PEAK evoked the daylit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and implicitly Polley addressing Kenneth Branagh docufeature film CINDERELLA (2015). Indeed, the fact that Hiddleston was linked to Disney and Marvel via his role as the mischievous and implicitly Spielberg linked Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films affirmed that latter implicit possibility. A grimly fitting implicit fear of insidious Disney machinations, given that Del Toro was implicitly roasted and toasted again in the form of Drax the Destroyer-played again by Bautista-in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Gunn super satirical animaction film GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017), released on April 10, 2017.
Tragicomically, the implicitly Del Toro linked Drax-played again by Bautista-returned to help the rest of the marvelous heroes and heroines save the MCU by defeating the implicitly Michael Eisner linked mad Titan, Thanos-played by Josh Brolin-in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Anthony and Joseph Russo super satirical animaction films AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018), released on April 23, 2018, and AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019), released on April 22, 2019. Beastly blockbuster shenanigans that needed an indie film art for film art’s sake film artist like Del Toro to embrace his Del Oro side and return to the Temple Theatre with another twilit, allegorical, elaborately designed, richly textured, horrific, narrative art luvin’ and blockbuster CGI enhanced beast thrashing indie art film that was as haunted as it was haunting and that affirm again it would that Del Toro was, like his inspirational mentors Grand Master Corben, Giger, King, Lovecraft, Poe, Shelley, Wrightson and the artists who contributed to HEAVY METAL…at home with allegories and polarities.
Del Toro, Guillermo and Chuck Hogan. The Hollow Ones:
the blackwood tapes vol. 1. New York: Grand Central
Salveson, Britt, et al. Guillermo Del Toro: at home with
monsters-inside his films, notebooks, and collections.
San Rafael, CA: Insight Editions, 2017.