Different filmmakers are known for different things. Martin Scorsese is known for gangster films. Michael Bay is known for action films. Guillermo del Toro, however, is known for creatures and the macabre.
This doesn’t mean the master filmmaker can’t spread his wings into other genres, but it does mean that the man knows how to make a good movie and should be respected whenever a new one is released.
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10) The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water was shocking on many levels when it was first released. The most shocking of all was that a woman would have sex with a fish man creature.
It wasn’t shocking enough, though, for the Academy Awards to respect it as an amazing film. Underneath the weird creature romance, the film is actually a surprising movie about love and what it means to be human. It’s even more interesting when it could be viewed as Hellboy’s Abe Sapien fanfiction.
9) Crimson Peak
Crimson Peak is a little different than Guillermo del Toro’s usual films. It is a period piece that focuses more on the gothic and romantic side of horror rather than the scary. It takes place at the turn of the century and follows an author as she has to decipher the mystery behind the ghosts she encounters in her new home.
Like The Shape of Water, this movie shows that Guillermo del Toro can evolve and dabble in many forms of storytelling. He definitely has a base foundation of the macabre and eerie, but movies like this showcase his talents can extend beyond the scary, as well.
8) Nightmare Alley
Nightmare Alley is a film that doesn’t really feature any supernatural elements like del Toro’s previous movies, but it still has that same vibe that the supernatural is possible. It has an underlying presence of the macabre that’s both eerie and fascinating.
The film is about a grifter that learns to become a master con artist, but his ego gets the best of him when he finds himself flying too close to the sun. It also helps that the film has an amazing cast in every role from major to minor.
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7) The Strain
So technically The Strain shouldn’t be among these films as it’s not a film at all. It’s a TV show. However, del Toro played such an integral role at bringing this story to life that it should be praised for a master class in vampire fiction.
This show showcased a vampire apocalypse from beginning to end. It also had tons of twists and turns along the way that plenty of rival vampire stories try to pull off with things like hybrid warriors and secret vampiric councils that don’t play out as well.
6) Pacific Rim
Although this film still features a lot of the excellent creature elements that many of Guillermo del Toro’s past films has, it’s more of a sci-fi action feature than a straight-up horror. The story is essentially about gigantic monsters invading Earth and humanity creating gigantic robots to fight them.
Although the CGI and special effects are top notch, del Toro wisely grounded the film by having the robots piloted by two people at the same time. This storytelling mechanism allowed for some great character arcs as various individuals had to reconcile working together.
5) Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Before the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were sporadic comic book superhero movies that were met with varying degrees of success. Hellboy was excellent, and fans were eagerly surprised to see its sequel was just as good.
This film focused less on Hellboy’s past and more on a separate storyline involving one dark elf striving for power. Even though it didn’t deal with Hellboy directly, the main character still saw himself within the main plot. It also helps that the action was top notch.
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Before del Toro was a household name, Mimic was a strange film released into the horror landscape. It was about gigantic bugs that feed in New York City’s underground by mimicking human appearance.
The film features creature and body horror on a whole other level. The story might not have been the quality that del Toro would build up in the future, but Mimic was still an immensely satisfying horror experience that showcased del Toro’s talents.
3) Blade II
A lot of fans view Blade as the first truly great superhero film of the modern era, so Blade II had high expectations. Guillermo del Toro stepped in as director, and he did not disappoint their aspirations.
The film featured a brand new story in a brand new location with brand new creatures that posed a threat to humans and vampires alike. It had Blade teaming up with his enemies in order to take down this threat, and it made for a very special story and character arc.
On paper, Hellboy is a very strange comic character to adapt, especially during the early 2000s when many comic characters hadn’t had live action versions yet. Somehow, Guillermo del Toro took this relatively unknown character and made a fantastic movie with him.
The heart of Hellboy’s story is that he’s largely misunderstood. He’s not evil, yet he’s not completely innocent either. He’s kind of just a punk kid that wants to do right and wants to carve his own path. Ron Perlman combined with del Toro pulled that off fantastically.
1) Pan’s Labyrinth
It should be obvious by his name that Guillermo del Toro is a Spanish director, and with Pan’s Labyrinth, he stuck to his native language to deliver his most wild vision yet and probably ever. Pan’s Labyrinth is essentially a fantastical horror set over the backdrop of World War II.
The story is tragic, but the storytelling is on par with the movie’s incredible character and set designs. It truly is a film that allowed del Toro to let his terrifying imagination flourish to its extreme. It’s just one example of what can happen when the power of del Toro is unleashed to its fullest.