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Hellboy (#110 of 2)

The Films of Guillermo del Toro Ranked

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The Films of Guillermo del Toro Ranked

Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Films of Guillermo del Toro Ranked

Given how often his name has been attached to projects, particularly over the last 15 years, Guillermo del Toro could easily be mistaken for a tirelessly prolific director, whose near-annual output of darkly fantastical visions seems to make him the genre fanatic’s Woody Allen. But while del Toro has amassed roughly 30 film credits since making his 1985 debut with the horror short Doña Lupe, he’s only been at the helm of eight features. Other works, like The Orphanage, Kung Fu Panda 2, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which he famously came very close to directing, have seen him serve as everything from writer and executive producer to voice actor and creative consultant. With Pacific Rim, the latest (and most massively budgeted) of that limited del Toro line, hitting theaters on Friday, we’re looking back at the director’s body of work, which reflects a man as interested in the social, political, and existential as the bloody, the slimy, the fleshy, and the scaly. R. Kurt Osenlund

A Successful Pastiche Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden’s Joe Golem and the Drowning City

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A Successful Pastiche: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden’s Joe Golem and the Drowning City
A Successful Pastiche: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden’s Joe Golem and the Drowning City

Joe Golem and the Drowning City opens with that dreary old literary device: a portentous dream. But it grabs the reader all the same, because the dream is more a memory than a set of convenient symbols to explain the novel’s thematic underpinnings. As a woman births something inhuman in an underwater chamber, watched by “crimson-robed figures” and chained to “Numidian marble,” we can almost sense the prose pulling at the lizard brain, switching to the logic of cosmic horror and lurid pulps. In this literary space, dream and reality are interchangeable, because here be monsters our collective subconscious has produced over centuries of storytelling.

In the grand tradition of monster fiction and myth, symbols are woven into the reality Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden have created in Joe Golem. A grief-broken heart is literalized within the creaking, sputtering chest of a man kept alive by enchanted clockwork. The terrors of a homeless teenager come to hissing life as masked bogeymen she comes to call “gas-men.” The environmental anxieties of our present age churn up in the rising waters that consume the authors’ vision of Manhattan as a post-cataclysmic “drowning city.” This is a world where the outlandish hopes and fears of humanity spring into existence under the stars. And it should be as familiar as plunging into a favourite couch for anyone who’s read Mignola’s brilliant Hellboy series or its spinoff B.P.R.D.