Guillermo del Toro is one of the most visionary and exciting filmmakers working in Hollywood right now and he is back with his new film Crimson Peak.
Nobody does gothic horror like de Toro and I really cannot wait to see what he delivers with Crimson Peak, which stars Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Charlie Hunnam.
To celebrate the release of the movie, we look back over del Toro's career and pick out some of his best movies so far.
- The Devil's Backbone (2001)
It was back in 2001 when The Devil's Backbone hit the big screen and it was the third feature film of de Toro's directing career, coming after Cronos and Mimic. As well as being in the director's chair for the film, del Toro teamed up with Antonio Trashorras and David Muñoz to pen the screenplay.
The movie follows Carlos, a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War, who arrives at an ominous boy's orphanage where he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover.
Del Toro has described The Devil's Backbone as his 'most personal' film and it remains one of his very best as the filmmaker creates an unsettling atmosphere that will truly send a shiver down your spine.
Del Toro mixes element of horror, mystery, supernatural as well as gothic elements to create a movie that is suspenseful and incredibly chilling - it is one of those movies that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.
However, The Devil's Backbone is not just a ghost story, del Toro weaves into a very human and, at time, a political element to elevate the film and make it something different to all of the other movies that we have seen in this genre over the years. In fact, del Toro has always been great at telling a human story and creating interesting characters that you find yourself rooting for.
The backdrop of the Spanish Civil War is an interesting and different setting for a horror film and this really allows de Toro to develop the human story more. And it is the human story that packs a very sad punch as you follow children who find themselves in the middle of this war and suffering the most.
The Devil's Backbone was a movie that was met with great reviews upon release and it was the film that really did help put del Toro on the filmmaking map. The Devil's Backbone remains a terrific ghost/horror movie that is driven by a very touching human story. Still a great watch nearly fifteen years after it was first released.
- Hellboy (2004)
Hard to believe that Hellboy was released back in 2004 and is a movie that is already over a decade old. For me, Hellboy remains one of the best comic book movies of recent years and I love the world that del Toro created in both of the films in the series.
First and foremost, Ron Perlman is just terrific in the central role of Hellboy, a reluctant hero who mixes charm, humour, brutality, and cool into the character with great ease. It is one of the best and most memorable performances of his acting career so far... I just love him in this role and he really was perfectly cast.
As well as being action packed and special effects that look fantastic, Hellboy is an intelligent and witty script that put the characters and relationships first. It is a movie that is as touching as it is fast and furious.
There are some great gothic touches to the film - especially at the beginning - and del Toro kicked off his trend of creating wonderful and larger than life characters. Doug Jones wonderfully brings Abe Sapien and he is an actor who played a huge part in some of the creations in Pan's Labyrinth years later.
Hellboy was met well upon release and went on to gross over $99 million at the global box office - easily making back its $66 million budget. Four years later, del Toro and co returned with Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which was another terrific film.
There has been a lot of talk about a potential third instalment this year, but it still remains to be seen if this project will go ahead. Personally, I would love to see del Toro back at the helm of a Hellboy film and Perlman in the title role.
- Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
When it comes to del Toro movies, there is none greater than the fantastic Pan's Labyrinth, a movie that will celebrate its tenth anniversary next year. Del Toro penned the screenplay as well as being in the director's chair and Pan's Labyrinth was the most captivating and original movie to hit the big screen that year.
In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world that is packed with unforgettable character creations.
You may not see Doug Jones' face on the screen in Pan's Labyrinth, but his performances as Fauno and the terrifying Pale Man are just wonderful - the Pale Man is one of the best characters that del Toro has ever brought to the big screen.
Pan's Labyrinth is a movie that is a mix of fantasy, horror and war, with a very human story at its core; we follow a young girl as she struggles after the loss of her mother and tries to protect her younger brother from her stepfather. The courage of Ofelia is what really drives this film forward and you will be willing her to triumph from beginning to end.
Del Toro has crafted a story, characters, and a world that well and truly draws you in and is incredibly compelling from the very start. An adult audience don't often get treated to a 'fairytale' but del Toro do exactly that and Pan's Labyrinth is a total triumph.
It won't come as a surprise to hear that Pan's Labyrinth was met with critical acclaim when it was released and it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. The movie was nominated for six Oscars, going on to win Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Art Direction, and Best Achievement in Makeup. Sadly, the movie missed out on the Best Foreign Language Film - losing to The Lives of Others.
Other del Toro movies not to miss include Blade II, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, The Orphanage (on which he served as producer).
Crimson Peak is released 16th October.