‘Monsters are real for me’: director Guillermo del Toro preaches horror to the masses at Fantasia Fest

With the recent upswing in violent attacks across the globe, Del Toro is quick to point out a theme that weaves its way through all his films—the notion that humans are the real monsters. “I have never seen a horror movie in which I want the monster to be destroyed,” he proclaims. “I want the fucking villagers to die. I want the scientists to explode. Everybody can die expect the fucking monster.”

The monster as an innocent is a idea that can be traced back to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein—Del Toro’s all-time favourite creature, and one he has often toyed with trying to bring to the screen. “Part of me wants to do a version,” he admits. “Part of me has for more than 25 years chickened out on making it. Sometimes I dream I can make the greatest Frankenstein ever, but then if you make it, you’ve made it. Whether it’s great or not, it’s done. You cannot dream about it anymore. That’s the tragedy of a filmmaker. You landed a 10, or you landed a 6.5, but you were at the Olympics already, you know? You were judged.”

The thought of being judged for expressing one’s emotions leads to Del Toro’s thoughts on how modern audiences have changed (hint: not for the better). “If you are in an audience right now, emotions are corny,” he says sadly. “You go to a theatre and you have an emotional scene on the screen, you’re going to hear chuckles. It’s a very difficult time. Emotion is the new punk. Being emotional is being punk right now. It’s taking a risk.”

With all of the negativity surrounding social media, Del Toro was initially apprehensive about offering up any sort of an online presence. He eventually conceded, starting a Twitter account, but with one goal in mind—to never criticize other artists. “It took me many years to finally decide to go on Twitter,” he admits. “And I went on Twitter and I made a point, other than politics, which I fucking hate, I am not going to say anything negative about anything artistic. I’m going to talk about books I love, I’m going to talk about films I love, I’m going to talk about artists I love. Because there’s enough of the other crap. It’s much easier to sound intelligent by shitting on something than by praising it. We have supplanted intelligence with cynicism. When we say we hate, we sound smarter than when we say we love. I say, “Fuck that.” So if you go to my Twitter account, I’ve posted hundreds of mini reviews of books, hundreds of mini reviews of films, hundreds of new artists for people that don’t know them. And it’s out of enthusiasm and love. Politicians and all that I do take a shit on, because I think it’s a perversion. That’s true horror.”

As a filmmaker who has based his career on monsters, both real and imagined, Del Toro readily acknowledges that his fascination with creatures is not a typical pursuit. “I doubt I’ll ever be a normal guy,” he says candidly. “Monsters are real for me. In the sense that if you see my movies, there’s never any doubt the creatures are real. For me, ghosts are real. I’m a Mexican, so to me, everything weird and fucked up I think is real. The way a Christian believes that Jesus will save his life, that’s the way I believe monsters will save my soul. I believe it. When I see Boris [Karloff], I see a messianic figure. Somebody that died for my sins. I’m not a fan, I’m a deranged creature.”

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