Del Toro shares inspiring monsters

An exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto features monster-themed artifacts from Guillermo Del Toro that help inspire the filmmaker.


THIS past weekend I was in Toronto visiting friends, and I had the opportunity to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario to see an extremely special exhibition. Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters is an obscure collection of items from the film director’s personal collection and consists of everything from props, costumes, concept art and creature sculptures from his own movies (as well as from other films that have inspired him).

Also included in the collection are books, original artwork and prints from the likes of Hans Ruedi (HR) Giger, Francisco Goya and Zdzislaw Beksinski among many others. All of the items on display in the exhibit (which runs at the Art Gallery of Ontario until Jan. 7) are usually housed in Del Toro’s Bleak House, a Victorian mansion in California that acts as a reliquary for all of the items that evoke curiosity within him and inspire his creativity.

The exhibit was organized into small collections: Childhood and Innocence, Victoriana, Magic, Alchemy and the Occult, Movies, Comics and Pop Culture, Frankenstein and Horror, Outsiders, and Death and the Afterlife. There was also a Rain Room, which contained a massive library as well as a life-size wax figure of Edgar Allan Poe, and featured a sound and video installation that simulates a rainstorm.

As an artist myself, I know how important it can be to surround myself with the things that inspire me and elicit creativity. For Del Toro, the work of others, books, and pop culture are part of what comprises his inspiration. That, coupled with his extremely strict Catholic upbringing and personal experiences with the supernatural have formed his aesthetic as a director and very obviously influence his work.

Guillermo Del Toro’s body of work is as eclectic and obscure as his collection of inspirations.

His film Pan’s Labyrinth (which won three Oscars and was nominated for best writing and best foreign film) is one of the most remarkable films I’ve ever seen and is probably the best example of Del Toro’s work. Other films from his repertoire range from horror films such as The Devil’s Backbone, Cronos and Crimson Peak to comic book films like Hellboy and Blade 2 and the sci-fi action flick Pacific Rim.

Every single one of his works, while not always everyone’s cup of tea, exude a level of creativity and attention to detail and reverence that few other filmmakers can muster. I am very much looking forward to his next film, The Shape of Water.

The whole point of Del Toro’s exhibition is to share his infatuation with monsters with the rest of us, so that we too can recognize that the imperfections of monsters can be found within us all, and that those imperfections are what make us unique. His hope is that the monsters follow us home, and for me, they most certainly did.

Experiencing this exhibit was inspirational. I could feel the creative energy as soon as I walked through the doors, and that energy, or the power of the monsters, is still with me.

Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at

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