October heralds the start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere – warmer weather, longer nights, and (most importantly) Halloween. We’re preparing for All Hallows Eve by bingeing all things delightfully creepy and poetically beautiful. For monsters, and fairy tales. For the grotesque and sublime.
Guillermo Del Toro, the master of finding the beauty in the grotesque, is an October staple, and what better way to start any Halloween binge than with vampires, Del Toro style?
The Strain S1-4 – Showmax
Del Toro’s intense attention to detail is something that makes the series The Strain, based on his novel, so completely compelling to watch. The character development, creepy conspiracy vibes, and beautiful shots make it a classic.
If you doubt Del Toro’s creds in the vampire stakes, well, you must’ve been living under a rock. The same genius behind Blade 2 penned this bloody tale. But this isn’t your stock standard vampire series. It’s better.
It’s got enough gore and mystery to keep things interesting. And, boy oh boy, do things get interesting. It starts off with a mysterious virus infecting a plane on a long-haul flight, killing most of the passengers and crew on board. There are only four survivors, and they slowly start to take on characteristics of classic vampires. It’s a creative re-imagining of this folklorish creature but never strays into the realm of sparkly.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – Showmax
Set in a Spain that’s being gripped by the early fascism of the 1940s, it’s an unabashed exploration of power, corruption, and resistance.
Ofelia, our little heroine, is drawn into a fantasy world where faeries believe her to be their long-lost princess. She must complete a quest, befitting any princess from a bed-time fairy tale. This is Del Toro at his directorial best. It’s filled with all manner of things creepy and weird, like The Pale Man (arguably, one of my favourite but what-the-actual-day-in-the-morning movie monsters. Ever).
Don’t let the Spanish language put you off. The subtitles are totally worth it.
Hellboy (2004) – Netflix
Ron Pearlman, Selma Blair – what’s not to love?! Staying true to its comic book origins, this action-fantasy-comedy is full of energy and light-hearted wit. It’s a classic good-vs-evil tale, filled with Nazis, Rasputin, tentacle monsters, and a government team tasked with saving the world.
Ron Pearlman as Hellboy is just a joy to watch – it’s no wonder that Del Toro fought seven years to have him in this role. It feels like a comic book, and is just wonderful. It’s this original Hellboy movie that you want to watch and love, not the 2019 imposter.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) – Showmax
We find Hellboy still working for the government, and still in a relationship with Liz (albeit a somewhat strained relationship).
There’s a new evil-doer hell-bent on acquiring ultimate power – in the form of Prince Nuada, the silver-haired, silver-faced elf. In a film filled with fantastical creatures and beasts, it’s Del Toro’s skill at making these characters feel rounded that’s the real magic (this is true for both Hellboy movies on this list).
Red and Abe singing “I can’t smile without you” is one example of this magic at work.
Trollhunters S1-3: Tales of Arcadia – Netflix
This Netflix Originals animated series has that distinct Del Toro feel to it, which is no surprise, since it came straight out of his imagination. Its monsters could be something out of Pan’s Labyrinth, but with a little less of a Pale Man feel to them (it is a kids’ show, after all).
A magic amulet chooses Jim to become the first human Trollhunter – protector of both the troll and human worlds. With his best friend Toby, his new troll mentors, Blinky and AAARRRGGHH!!! (that’s with three arghs), Jim fights to keep evil at bay.
There are some pretty heavy names voicing the characters – Ron Pearlman, Kelsey Grammar, Lena Heady, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Hamill. This is adult-friendly kids programming at its finest.