ByCourtney Dial, writer at
Scientist by day. Horror film aficionado by night.
Courtney Dial

Guillermo del Toro is known for his elaborate landscapes, fantastic stories, beautiful coloration and cinematography, all wrapped in artistic fantasy. He is the Greatest Director of recent: all of his films are ones that we look forward to watching again, even if we've seen them before. Given that del Toro has one major project on the horizon — The Shape Of Water I thought it might be appropriate to take a look back at some of his greatest works.

Very few directors today care to dive into the genres of and , and even fewer care to do both. Guillermo del Toro is regarded as one of the best in the fantasy/horror sub-genre, and his ability to captivate an audience as well as ask the important questions makes one of the greats in any genre. So, from the steampunk origins of Hellboy to the horror fairy tale that is Pan's Labyrinth, let's take a look at five of del Toro's best works and why they stand up to films produced as of recent.

5. 'Hellboy': The Steampunk Superhero Returns?

Based on the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel by Mike Mignola, Guillermo del Toro took this supernatural antihero and made his movie one of the more artistic and creative superhero films as of late.

'Hellboy' [Credit: Sony Pictures]
'Hellboy' [Credit: Sony Pictures]

Hellboy is a demon who was released — or rather raised — by Nazi's as a last ditch effort at the end of WWII. Once Hellboy is rescued from danger, however, he grows up to defend Earth against the evil from which he was born.

One of the more elegant superhero films, which uses the rich colors that del Toro is known for, is definitely a film that shows Guillermo's creativity. If he can take someone else's story and turn it into a steampunk work of art, imagine what he could do with his own. With that being said, there is some talk that del Toro's new film The Shape Of Water is actually a prequel to Hellboy. I am still a little skeptical about this idea, but this is a reason we should go see his newest films. It might have a connection to his older and probably most iconic film.

4. 'The Devil's Backbone': Raw Storytelling At Its Finest

Pure horror is not typically a genre del Toro dives into often, but this 2001 flick put Guillermo on the map as a director to look out for when it comes to creating a real scare.

'The Devil's Backbone' [Credit: Sony Pictures]
'The Devil's Backbone' [Credit: Sony Pictures]

Set during 1930s Spin, The Devil's Backbone follows a group of boys who have been orphaned in the Spanish Civil War. When Carlos arrives at the compound, immediately supernatural events begin to occur.

This film does not have del Toro's signature coloration or even his cinematography, but the story telling is extravagant and he considers this film his most personal. Interwound plot points and a criticisms on the brutalities of war make this film a standout. It also put del Toro on the map, and was a precursor for his more excellent films to come. Guillermo del Toro's raw storytelling is what makes this movie so incredible.

3. 'The Strain': He Is More Than A Director

The Strain presents a different view of the classic vampire storyline, or should I say: strigoi. Although del Toro doesn't direct every single episode, he is the writer and executive producer of the series, and his creative influence is evident.

is currently in its 4th and final season, leaving fans wondering how they are going to wrap up this intense story line. Guillermo del Toro's classic color scheme, gothic imagery, excellent story lines and (of course) beautiful cinematography are all laced throughout this series. If you think the traditional vampire story line is a little overdone, I highly suggest giving this series a watch. The Strain also gives us evidence of his writing and producing skills. He has developed his gothic aesthetic so precisely that even though he isn't directing every episode, a viewer is still aware it is a del Toro work.

2. 'The Orphanage': Darker Parts Of His Mind

Another instance where del Toro didn't direct but worked as an executive producer is with the film The Orphanage. This is a particularly excellent display of what horror could truly embody.

'The Orphanage' [Credit: New Line Entertainment]
'The Orphanage' [Credit: New Line Entertainment]

I have never cried so hard from a horror film's ending — The Orphanage hit an emotional cord with me and other audiences that is difficult to find in the genre. The Orphanage follows Laura as she moves back to her childhood orphanage in order to open it back up and give back to the place that helped her through life. What she doesn't realize is that there are supernatural elements lurking around every corner.

Directed by J.A. Bayona, this film uses every key elements that seem to say: "Guillermo del Toro had something to do with this film." Its absolutely extraordinary. It's scary, has multiple plot points and literary elements laced throughout the entire story. It has become one of my absolute favorite horror films, I recommend it to horror fans and film fans alike. The Orphanage also makes direct connections to the popular children's story Peter Pan, which is similar to del Toro's upcoming film, Pinocchio. If del Toro can create such a small story line into an entire horror film, imagine what he can do with a film titled after the story.

1. 'Pan's Labyrinth': The Master of Multiple Genres

is easily one of the best fantasy-horror films in the past decade, dare I say ever? All of the aforementioned classic film techniques that stand out as Guillermo del Toro come to a head in this extraordinary film. He wrote, directed and was a producer — and it definitely shows. Roger Ebert himself gave this film a 4/4 and it deserves it. Pan's Labyrinth is remarkable.

'Pan's Labyrinth' [Credit: New Line Entertainment]
'Pan's Labyrinth' [Credit: New Line Entertainment]

Pan's Labyrinth follows a young girl named Ofelia as she navigates life as a child in a time of war. She soon finds a mystical escape in a fairytale landscape, but is it what truly meets the eye?

The images from this film are so notable that even if a person hasn't actually viewed the film, they've likely seen the images. Guillermo created this unforgettable world within our own, using incredible coloration, cinematography and a riveting plot to create something remarkable. He also makes comments on war, child abuse and death, and how these affect the psyche of a child. This film is hands down my favorite film. It is often considered del Toro's masterpiece and I could not agree more. Every film lover should watch this work of art.

The Greatest Director, Ever

No matter if del Toro directed the film, wrote the story or produced the work, his influence and appreciation for film will stand out. He puts his all into everything he does and it shows on screen. He creates mystical, sometimes scary, landscapes that allows his viewers to escape into the world he has created. Not only that, but he comments on real life issues as well, using his platform to educate his audience.

Guillermo del Toro's films are aesthetically pleasing and the techniques he uses are smart. Any film that he is a part of is worth viewing, especially his upcoming flicks. He truly deserves the title of Greatest Director.


Which Guillermo del Toro film or TV series is your favorite?


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