A self-described monster lover, Guillermo del Toro's passion for fantasy and misunderstood creatures has made him one of the most unique and respected filmmakers of his generation and a two-time Oscar winner.
From his early days making short films, the Mexican filmmaker's dedication to his craft goes well beyond screenwriting and directing; enthralled with bringing new and fantastical beings to audiences with every project, del Toro has studied special effects and makeup. This cinephile is so fascinated with horror and fantasy that he even has a home called Bleak House, where he keeps his collection of art, movie props, memorabilia and more. (He does not live there; he lives nearby.)
In celebration of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, A.frame has put together a list highlighting 10 of his essential films.
Starring Ron Perlman and Federico Luppi, the indie horror film Cronos was del Toro’s first feature film. After an antique dealer Jesus Gris (Luppi) discovers a 400-year-old scarab, he is granted youth, eternal life and a lust for blood. A dying old man, who is also aware of the artifact's special abilities, sends his nephew, Angel (Perlman), in search of it. Cronos was selected by Mexico to be submitted for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar that year. Although the film did not receive a nomination, that is still a noteworthy honor for one's first film.
Based on Donald A. Wollheim's short story of the same name, the sci-fi horror movie Mimic stars Mira Sorvino as a biologist whose team genetically creates an insect to destroy disease-ridden cockroaches. After being released into the world, the new insects turn on their creators and set out to destroy mankind! Josh Brolin, Norman Reedus, Giancarlo Giannini and Charles S. Dutton co-star.
Known in Spanish as El espinazo del diablo, this gothic horror film follows a young boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielve) after his father dies during the Spanish Civil War. Placed in an orphanage, Carlos discovers that the school is haunted and holds many dark secrets.
Wesley Snipes reprised his role in this sequel as the half human-half vampire Marvel Comics character Blade, the slayer of vampires. In this film, Blade apprehensively forms an alliance with the vampire council to fight against the Reapers, an even deadlier breed of vampires. Ron Perlman and Norman Reedus reunited with del Toro for Blade II, which also co-stars Donnie Yen, Kris Kristofferson and Leonor Varela.
Based on the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, del Toro's action-adventure fantasy Hellboy stars Ron Perlman as the titular character, a well-meaning half-demon who grows up to be a defender against evil and dark forces. Selma Blair, Doug Jones, and John Hurt co-star.
Also known by its Spanish title, El laberinto del fauno, Pan's Labyrinth is among del Toro’s most beloved films. Set five years after the Spanish Civil War, this dark fantasy war drama depicts a young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who escapes her sadistic army officer stepfather and enters a mysterious world filled with captivating creatures. Among the most distinct is the mysterious Faun (Doug Jones), who Ofelia builds a relationship with as she ventures through the labyrinth. Widely considered a masterpiece, the film earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay for del Toro, ultimately winning three Oscars (Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Makeup).
This sci-fi action blockbuster stars Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, and Charlie Day. Giant sea monsters called Kaiju have risen from the sea and are taking over the planet. Humans combat them with Jaegers, giant humanoid machines operated by two co-pilots. It's up to the heroes behind the Jaegers to save the world. The film was both a critical and a commercial success for del Toro.
There's more than meets the eye in this romantic horror drama. Set in 1901 in Buffalo, New York, heiress Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) marries the charming Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Swept away to his mansion, she moves in with Thomas and his peculiar sister Lady Lucille (Jessica Chastian) and begins to communicate with the ghosts who haunt the gothic mansion. As Edith is taken on a whirlwind horror story, she uncovers the Sharpes' dark secrets.
This romantic fantasy, set in 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland, follows a mute cleaner (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a humanoid amphibian (Doug Jones) at a government laboratory. Once she discovers that officials plan to dissect the creature, she decides that she must break him out of his tank. Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer co-star. The Shape of Water received 13 Oscar nominations, including Best Original Screenplay for del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, ultimately winning a total of four Oscars, including Best Director for del Toro and Best Picture for del Toro and J. Miles Dale.
This neo-noir psychological thriller was based on the 1946 novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham. The film follows grifter Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) as he works his way up from carnival worker to psychic medium. As time passes, Stanton learns how to swindle the elite and wealthy. Things take a turn when he meets his match in psychologist Dr. Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett), who tries to expose him, and he meets Ezra Grindle (Richard Jenkins), a man who desperately wishes to be able to reconnect with his late lover. Rooney Mara, Toni Collette, David Strathairn, Willem Dafoe, and Ron Perlman co-star. Nightmare Alley received four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture for del Toro, Cooper, and J. Miles Dale.