At Home with Monsters

I’m a fan of Guillermo Del Toro’s work. The guy has vision, lots of vision. He’s also a fanboy. He fans out like few people can. Because his movies are entertaining. And entertaining movies make money. And so, Guillermo Del Toro makes money. And when you make money, you can start collecting things you’re a fan of. And so, Guillermo Del Toro did that. He collected the hell out of things from Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy, and action films, along with a trove of related art and literary works, and he then proceeded to create a retreat for himself called Bleak House in Southern California which he filled with the stuff.

Then, I speculate, one of four possible things happened (because I haven’t actually found the reason on the internet yet)

1. He discovered that Bleak House had mold, or asbestos, or termites, or rodents, or some other hazardous element infecting it, necessitating the removal of all items while issue was dealt with. Or he just wanted to do an addition.

2. His accountant realized he had gone broke from buying all this stuff and was still waiting on the checks to come in from Blade II (it can sometimes take 3-5 years or more for royalties to start paying out on movies) and so hatched the idea to charge people to see the collection, thereby making it pay for itself for a period where Del Toro would be working on a project and thus not making use of Bleak House.
3. Del Toro genuinely wanted to share his collection with the public in a museum setting.

Given the size of the collection, I’m inclined to believe that it is option 1 or 2 as film directors are not known for being good at sharing, and also want what they want. In fact, that’s what makes a good director: You don’t have to know how to do things, you just have to know what you want, and Del Toro wanted a lot.

One of the stops on the tour was LACMA here in Los Angeles  which is where I was able to go see it. And the collection is astonishing, and legitimate. It was a celebration not only of the numerous films, comic book series, and literary works that inspired Del Toro, but also, importantly, the artisans behind these visual works.


This was photographed with the most over-rated camera of the decade: The Panasonic GH4

It’s not great.

Del Toro must be one of a handful of wealthy people who patronizes the artists responsible for the incredible work displayed at conventions like Monsterpalooza.

On display were lifelike facsimiles of Dr. Frankenstein, his creation the monster, the brideRay Harryhausen, Johnny Eck and Schlitzie,  all of which likely debuted at Monsterpalooza. This is awesome, as it’s to Del Toro’s appreciation of these folks’ work that helps keep their lights turned on and their fridges full between movie gigs, since none of these figures are likely ever done on commission, but rather as advertising to get other work in the physical makeup effects industry.

It was a little difficult to find a narrative through line to the exhibition with elements that could have been grouped together being a little scattered about. There were bits from Hellboy all over the place. The Samaritan was paired with one of Kroenen’s masks, while Hellboys trench coat was paired with that rotary grenade launcher weapon from Hellboy II: The Golden Army, and Rasputin’s mecha glove from the first film. The Faun from Pan’s Labyrinth was paired with Mako Mori’s Jaeger pilot suit from Pacific Rim while the Pale Man was around the corner. Frankenstein was a bit spread out as well.

And on the one hand, I should care about this, because literally everything about this exhibit and what Del Toro does centers on the importance of story and narrative, but I didn’t, because I’m so thankful for any opportunity to experience events like these, regardless of the motivation for displaying them….which brings me to my fourth theory as to why Del Toro put his collection on tour: It was a distraction. If you look through Del Toro’s filmography, he had essentially nothing going on during the run of the exhibition, which began in August of 2016 in Los Angeles, and ended in January of 2018 in Ontario. Sure, he filmed ‘The Shape of Water,’ but that lasted four months, and yes, there was post production after that, but then that was it for a while, so I wonder if he had found himself at the mercy of his stuff. 

While yes, the idea of a collection like this serves as inspiration, once you’ve landed on that inspiration, you need to take that and run with it, or you might run the risk of distraction if you remain in that mode. So, staying away from his toys may have been what Del Toro felt he needed to do in order to finish his next story, otherwise he might have ended up like Dark Helmet all day. Of course, this is all speculation, and I’m projecting somewhat here. I have to leave home and go on trips sometimes to get my writing done. Heck, I’m typing this right now at a coffee bar in Monterey, California because I needed to get away and focus for precisely this reason.

Or he just needed to pay off the Maserati. Who knows?

I sure don’t. Heck, I don’t know if he even drives a Maserati. Have you heard about those things?

Supposedly, they’re not that great.

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