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"I Make Monster Porn"
January 31, 2011 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Show The Monster : "Guillermo del Toro’s quest to get amazing creatures onscreen." Video: Monsters in the Making. (Via)
posted by zarq (42 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pan's Labyrinth's visuals were recently voted one of the best scifi special effects of all time by the readers of Wired.
posted by zarq at 7:21 AM on January 31, 2011


WHEN WILL YOU ACTUALLY MAKE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS YOU TENTACLE-TEASING BASTARD
posted by FatherDagon at 7:31 AM on January 31, 2011 [20 favorites]


Oh, also his official fan site has photo galleries of things like movie posters and sightings and production images from various GdT movies, as well as videos including an alternate ending to MIMIC and interviews.
posted by zarq at 7:33 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pan's Labyrinth's visuals were recently voted one of the best scifi special effects of all time by the readers of Wired.

From the Wired link:


The chestburster scene in Alien is a classic, especially when you learn that not one member of the cast — apart from Lance Hendrickson — was told exactly what was going to happen.


This is a doubly shocking approach to creating this legendary scene, what with Henriksen actually being in Italy at the time filming an entirely different movie and not being involved in Alien at all. You can imagine his puzzlement, starting with the weird misspelling of his name on the telegram.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:35 AM on January 31, 2011 [20 favorites]


richochet, fact checking articles is so 20th century. No one's going to pay for the thirty seconds it would have taken the writer to check imdb.
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 AM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


The "Pale Man" scene from Pan'y Labyrinth is probably one of the only times when a movie has made me genuinely scared.

Lots of directors these days settle for "shock." However, everything about that scene was perfectly crafted to scare the crap out of me. (My favorite detail? The piles of shoes!)
posted by schmod at 7:50 AM on January 31, 2011


'I am in love with the monsters, for good and bad,' says del Toro. 'I make monster porn.'


Quoted for truth.
posted by chavenet at 8:01 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good god those notebooks are startlingly beautiful. It looks like bad things will happen in a radius of a thousand miles if it's touched by the unworthy.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 8:16 AM on January 31, 2011


I'm with schmod on this one. The Pale Man sent shivers down my spine, and I'm a grown man and watched the film safe in my own living room!
posted by Harald74 at 8:22 AM on January 31, 2011


schmod: "The "Pale Man" scene from Pan's Labyrinth is probably one of the only times when a movie has made me genuinely scared. "

Standing at the theater with my girlfriend at the time, trying to figure out what we wanted to see, we spotted the poster for Mimic, read "Science Fiction Thriller" and thought it would be like Aliens. Saw the film in the IMAX theater in Lincoln Center, which at the time (and perhaps it still does) had an 18,000 watt, 360º surround sound stereo. Spoiler: the movie's about 6'-tall bugs living in the NYC subway system that eat people.

A couple of days later, I read in the New York Times that del Toro had paid careful attention to the sound of the movie, because:
This is particularly important in the horror, science-fiction and suspense genres, the director added. Audiences want to be surprised, and any obvious aural clues -- a pounding heartbeat during a tense scene, for example -- spoil the fun. ''We wanted the sound design of 'Mimic' to be disturbing,'' he explained. ''If anyone covers their eyes to get away from the images on the screen, we want to still get them with the sound. If you walk into a room and it's breathing at you, you know that's not good. And the creatures had to sound so unique and scary, when they are communicating with each other, that you want to wash them off your body.''
The bugs sounded like they were coming out of the damned walls. They sounded like they were everywhere: standing behind you, underneath and above you. It was impossible to consistently predict where they were, or which direction they were coming from. The darkness of the theater and on screen made it so much worse. Hands down, that was the most terrifying experience I've ever had at a horror movie. My girlfriend (who loved horror movies but was scared of insects,) spent at least a quarter of the movie with her face buried in my shoulder and her hands over her ears.

The film ended. Leaving the theater, we took one look at the entrance to the subway and decided to take a cab home.
posted by zarq at 8:24 AM on January 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


Can't remember the last profile I read with so many memorable lines:

"In emotional genres, you cannot advocate good taste as an argument."

He refers to a script as a "libretto"; horror, he said, is special because it "excites a nonverbal part of us."

"I highly recommend you save your father’s life. You don’t see yourself as somebody’s child anymore. You become a man saving another man."

"Hitchcock would have gone to Comic-Con," he said. "He would have signed collectible shower curtains."


And it's charming to learn that his own libretti read like the backyard fancies of a ten-year-old: "BAMMMMM!!!!! A massive Shoggoth explodes out from the tower!!!!! It grabs and devours Gordon in mid-sentence!"
posted by Iridic at 8:31 AM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wish his movies were as good as his monsters.

I'm not saying that to snark - I really do love the monsters.
posted by ORthey at 8:35 AM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was bit surprised that the journalist chose to include personal details like the fact that the house was often unattended and that there was a safe in the bathroom.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:43 AM on January 31, 2011


I was bit surprised that the journalist chose to include personal details like the fact that the house was often unattended and that there was a safe in the bathroom.

Would you break into the Pale Man's house?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:45 AM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the Wired link:

The chestburster scene in Alien is a classic, especially when you learn that not one member of the cast — apart from Lance Hendrickson — was told exactly what was going to happen.


Lance Hendrickson was in Aliens the sequel. It was John Hurt who was the chestburster victim in the first movie.
posted by Billiken at 8:48 AM on January 31, 2011


I used to have this song on a mix in my car, and whenever it would come on, you suddenly would start taking the curves a little more dangerously and checking the rear-view for any aston martins on your tail.
posted by puny human at 11:42 AM


You've made a monstrous error! : )
posted by orme at 8:48 AM on January 31, 2011


Lance Hendrickson was in Aliens the sequel. It was John Hurt who was the chestburster victim in the first movie.

Good point!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:56 AM on January 31, 2011


Hendrickson frequently shows up in the movies of Ridley Skött, the well-known Dutch director.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:00 AM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


WHEN WILL YOU ACTUALLY MAKE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS YOU TENTACLE-TEASING BASTARD

When you tekeli-least expect it.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:02 AM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Before del Toro started school, his father won the Mexican national lottery.

Like every good superhero, De Toro has a great origin story!
posted by chavenet at 9:05 AM on January 31, 2011


WHEN WILL YOU ACTUALLY MAKE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS YOU TENTACLE-TEASING BASTARD

He wants to cast Tom Cruise as Professor Dyer so I'm hoping for never.
posted by clarknova at 9:08 AM on January 31, 2011


Another great line: Del Toro later said that he inevitably imposed his sensibility on source material: “It’s like marrying a widow. You try to be respectful of the memory of the dead husband, but come Saturday night . . . bam.”
posted by chavenet at 9:15 AM on January 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


You know what? I'd go see it even if Tom Cruise was in it. I've been waiting for this movie since 1983!!!
posted by Mister_A at 9:19 AM on January 31, 2011


"The first duty of what I like the in the genre, is not to scare people but to fill them with, to infect them with an image and infect them with a thought - and to carry it with them for the rest of their lives"

Infection vs. Inception. I like it. Is there a Nobel Prize for freaking people the f out?
posted by djrock3k at 9:20 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Listening to the descriptions of his Smaug design is fascinating. I really hope Jackson keeps it.
posted by cyphill at 9:21 AM on January 31, 2011


This is a doubly shocking approach to creating this legendary scene, what with Henriksen actually being in Italy at the time filming an entirely different movie and not being involved in Alien at all. You can imagine his puzzlement, starting with the weird misspelling of his name on the telegram.

I'm pretty sure they're actually thinking of Kristina Henriks there; ISTR that Alien was one of her first roles but they cut her out of the finished version of the movie. A three-year-old crewman confused test audiences or something.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:25 AM on January 31, 2011


I know little about him; sadly I have not seen one of his movies. But I read the entire article and found him facinating.
posted by Senator at 9:56 AM on January 31, 2011


He returned half his salary for “Hellboy,” and his entire salary for “Pan’s Labyrinth,” because he insisted on creature effects that his backers considered too expensive.

That's fantastic. Like stand-up-slow-clapping fantastic.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:19 AM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


FatherDagon: "WHEN WILL YOU ACTUALLY MAKE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS YOU TENTACLE-TEASING BASTAR"

When I first read this I took it as meaning the actual mountains. I am relieved that it was about the movie. 'Cause, see, I wouldn't put it past the abilities of del Toro. And that would be very bad.
posted by Splunge at 10:50 AM on January 31, 2011


''If anyone covers their eyes to get away from the images on the screen, we want to still get them with the sound. "

This is precisely what gives me the heebie-jeebies in horror films. Not the visuals. The sounds.
posted by LN at 10:59 AM on January 31, 2011


'Cause, see, I wouldn't put it past the abilities of del Toro. And that would be very bad.

Yes, that photograph was the reason I dropped del Toro; Guillermo del Toro Gómez, the greatest artist I have ever known -- and the foulest being that ever leaped the bounds of life into the pits of myth and madness. Old Perlman was right. He wasn't strictly human. Either he was born in strange shadow, or he'd found a way to unlock the forbidden gate. It's all the same now, for he's gone -- back into the fabulous darkness he loved to haunt. Here, let's have the chandelier going.

Don't ask me to explain or even conjecture about what I burned. Don't ask me, either, what lay behind that mole-like scrambling in Bleak House's walls that del Toro was so keen to pass off as rats. There are secrets, you know, which might have come down from old Hollywood times, and Fangoria tells even stranger things. You know how damned lifelike del Toro's maquettes were -- how we all wondered where he got those faces.

Well -- that photograph wasn't a photograph of any background, after all. What it showed was simply the monstrous being he was carving into latex. It was the model he was using -- and its background was merely the wall of the Glendale studio in minute detail. But by God, it was a photograph from life!
posted by Iridic at 11:10 AM on January 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hm. After reading that article, I don't agree with his assessment of what shoggoths should be. Streamlined, symmetrical, pearlescent or circulatory? No, no. Shoggoths are black, and asymmetrical -- they fill the available space. Yes, they're supposed to be frighteningly fast, but they aren't Ferraris; they have every predatorial appendage, every sensor you can imagine (and more), from every possible angle.

And there are too many post-Lovecraftian stories with shoggoths quite happily thriving in salt water for me to agree to them having such a weakness.

And he derides the Old Ones as being 'cucumbers with wings'. Lovecraft was painfully explicit in describing only a couple of his creations, including the Great Race of Yith and the Old Ones. To change how they look would be sacrilege.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:32 AM on January 31, 2011


From what I understand that del Toro's work with WETA in designing Smaug and other monsters got Jackson's approval and will be what we will see in The Hobbit movies. I saw a clip of Jackson smacking his lips and saying, "we have a dragon unlike anything you've ever seen." I.Can't.Wait.
posted by Ber at 12:04 PM on January 31, 2011


Nice, informative article, but I couldn't help but notice the writer's obsession with Del Toro's weight. We get it, he's obese. Have you never seen a fat person before, or are you just skewering this smart successful guy because you think that readers love to see a dork put in his place?
posted by picea at 1:49 PM on January 31, 2011


picea, I actually got that he was trying to communicate Del Tero's personal battles with it. DT seems quite self effacing about it and even expressed his struggles with his weight as inspiration for some of his characters. It didn't feel out of line to me.
posted by dobie at 2:01 PM on January 31, 2011


In July 2010 it was announced that the film would be made in 3D and that James Cameron would become producer.[20] Guillermo del Toro has confirmed that the film will begin production as early as May 2011 and start filming in June[21], but an estimated release date has yet to be announced.
posted by disillusioned at 4:08 PM on January 31, 2011


This article put a huge fangirl grin on my face in the middle of a snowy day.

When you tekeli-least expect it.

This may be the nerdiest pun I have ever seen. I salute you, sir!
posted by Countess Elena at 4:10 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


great article, thanks for posting it
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:15 PM on January 31, 2011


Thank you so much for posting this, it was a great profile! I didn't really consider myself a fan of Guillermo del Toro before this because I thought Pan's Labyrinth was kind of disappointing with the exception of the Pale Man, and his other stuff is a bit campy, but his Lovecraft fanboyism had given me a soft spot for him as a person. This, however, was endlessly fascinating, and gave me a better way to separate his influence from whatever else might be going on in a movie. Now I actually want to see his campy stuff, just for the sake of the monsters; I'll appreciate it a lot more that way. I tend to be one of those people who has trouble enjoying something if some aspect of it isn't as good as the rest, and I could stand to be less of that kind of person. Sitting down to dreamily watch some monsters and not caring about the rest sounds really nice right now.

Also, I'm so terribly excited for At the Mountains of Madness, I hope they go through with it. I didn't like Avatar either (aside from the special effects) but I'm ridiculously hopeful that with James Cameron on his side, it'll be the extra push the studio needs to risk the budget. Reading the descriptions of the ideas for the Old Ones and the shoggoths made me giddy. I agree that I had tended to think of them a bit differently, but I'm confident that del Toro will capture the feeling and horror of them quite well regardless. Unexpected and unusual things tend to be all the more horrifying, so I don't mind some deviation from canon or what I have in my head. I mean, in an important way, it's almost disappointing to show up to a horror movie and have the monster be exactly what I expected.

The whole idea of really showing the monsters and making people gawk pleases me greatly, because as much as I love Lovecraft it's difficult to feel that same fear of things that "cannot be described" nowadays, I think -- somehow only the Nyarlathotep stories freak me out, and Cthulhu a bit -- and it's really one story where he took pains to show the monsters. Even then, I'm not a visual person and it's hard for me to translate those things while reading them, so I've always enjoyed audio and film adaptations of Lovecraft to capture what I have difficulty getting from the text alone. If they do this, oh my goddd.

And honestly, I love that he wants to stick Cthulhu in at the end just for the hell of it. At the Mountains of Madness seems like something that would benefit from a bit of straying from the source material when it comes to a film adaptation, though less so than a lot of Lovecraft's stories. Plus, given the intentional overlap of Lovecraft's whole mythos, it just seems right somehow to have things from other stories creep in. I felt a bit conflicted about the salt water thing too, given the canon of Old Ones and shoggoths having underwater cities, but del Toro's reasoning makes some sense. Lovecraft himself liked people to play with his creations, so it doesn't bother me too much. There's a spirit of fun about it, like the ultimate rule is to freak people the fuck out no matter what the cost, and that's irresistible to me. If a shoggoth looks cool getting dissolved in salt water, I'm on board.

Gah, I'm so excited and hopeful I don't even want to think about it being scrapped!

His take on Frankenstein, and his judgment calls between what's realistic and what he wants to do anyway, were also incredibly cool. I've never particularly enjoyed Frankenstein -- the book or movie adaptations -- but what he described sounded like it would capture it in a way that would appeal to me.

And -- it's really kind of funny all the stuff he's tackling that I don't generally like -- I hope they keep his ideas for The Hobbit. For all I love fantasy I've never liked Tolkien's books, but the movie adaptations were worth the visuals alone and I wanna see Smaug soooo bad now.

Stuff like this makes me so grateful that there are people who can take the feeling of one type of media and translate it to another when the original is lost on me. I love reading and enjoy most books, but I've always felt like there's this whole class of literature I can't enjoy as much as other people because it doesn't translate well in my head; despite how often movie adaptations suck, I'm glad for many of them. Sometimes it's that there is too much visual description that bogs me down, like in Tolkien, but sometimes it's just that an atmosphere doesn't entirely hit me like it's intended to, like in some of Lovecraft's work. I didn't even like Lovecraft until I heard this reading of The Haunter of the Dark, and then it was like, OH, that's how it's supposed to sound, that's the tempo, that's the background tension -- it's all there, my brain just doesn't do that with it on its own. As a writer myself, it's interesting to me how a tone can be pitch-perfect and rich for one person, and just not connect with another. Off the top of my head, No Country for Old Men is my favorite movie ever, but despite it being practically a carbon copy of the book, for some reason the book doesn't effect me much. After seeing the movie, I can understand how someone would get all that from the book even though it takes me too much effort to sustain that feeling for long while reading it. It's cool how people's brains work.

Anyway, I've gotta add some of del Toro's movies to my Netflix queue now, thanks a ton for sharing this!
posted by Nattie at 7:27 AM on February 1, 2011


yes, awesome article
posted by Miles Long at 7:04 PM on February 1, 2011


This was a great read. I've always been in awe of Guillermo's eloquence in his second language, like Nabokov with English. If you want further examples of his ability to express himself so clearly, he plays a large role in this documentary on Lovecraft, which is a testament to how deeply he cares about the writer's oeuvre.

Good god those notebooks are startlingly beautiful. It looks like bad things will happen in a radius of a thousand miles if it's touched by the unworthy.

Fortunately, one was touched by the worthy.
posted by therewolf at 11:50 AM on February 2, 2011


Holy shit, that's a Travis Louie painting of my friend Molly behind him in that photo.

I KNOW EVERYBODY.
posted by The Whelk at 6:31 PM on February 3, 2011


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