Goblins, demons, trolls, dark elves, and things that go bump in the night all need love, and no one loves these creeps and creatures more than Guillermo del Toro. The magical and maniacal mind behind films such as Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim, and The Shape of Water, is known throughout the world of film for his inclusion and adoration of monsters. The way he designs and shapes these otherwise scary and sometimes disturbing beings is nothing short of an art form. Any filmmaker of any skill level can make a freaky monster, but only del Toro can make a beautiful monster.
His designs are creative, his details are ingenious, and his love for all things monstrous knows no bounds. His creatures are not only identifiable to his eccentric tastes but have been subjects of art galleries and displays. The phrase "so ugly they could be a modern-art-masterpiece" goes quite to the literal sense when talking about this guy's menagerie of monsters. From vampires to mermen, del Toro has no shortage of fantastic beasts in his filmography. There is no shortage of the ghoulish and grotesque when it comes to this guy, so we'd like to pay tribute today by listing some of the filmmaker's finest fiends. They might be menacing, malicious, or mildly macabre, but you cannot deny they each have their own strange beauty about them. Here are the top 20 Monsters of Guillermo del Toro.
20 THE MIMIC
One of the more chilling entries on our list comes from one of del Toro's earlier films. Based on the short story by Donald A. Wollheim, Mimic's featured creature is a species of giant cockroach-like insects in Manhattan that have evolved to "mimic" the likeness of human beings. The monsters among us vibe for this film is strong and drives most of its chills.
The monster itself is probably not the most exciting compared to some of the director's later work, but that doesn't make it any less scary. Think about it, a giant, freaky-faced cockroach walking the streets of New York. If that's not enough to make your skin crawl, the deadly disease they carry just might. Stay tuned, readers. We're just getting started.
Now there's a face comic book fans everywhere know and love. We have to include what many consider one of del Toro's most incredible films, Hellboy. And where would the supernatural superhero flick be without its big red star? Hellboy's design is an incredible likeness to his comic book counterpart and when paired with the incredible performance of Ron Perlman, it's pure harmony.
As a proclaimed fan of the Hellboy comic series, del Toro was more than the right choice for the director's chair. The amount of detail and dedication to the film is keenly shown in a way only a loving fan could do. Though a much-anticipated reboot is on the horizon, fans new and old will continue to adore del Toro's beloved interpretation.
18 AZOG AND BOLG (CONCEPT ART)
Before the prequel series to The Lord of the Rings was turned back over to Peter Jackson, it was originally in the very capable hands of Guillermo del Toro. Likewise, before CGI took over most of the film, del Toro wanted to take a more practical approach to some of the residents of Middle-Earth, particularly the fearsome orcs lead by Azog and Bolg.
Jackson's orcs look a bit too generic, despite the battle scars and impressive weapons. del Toro's on the other hand look incredibly bestial compared to their CGI replacements. There's something savage and scary about the concepts that just aren't as felt in the final production. With their freaky faces and intimidating armor, these guys would have our halfling heroes for second-breakfast.
One of the most beloved fantasy films in the genre, Pan's Labyrinth was a labor of love from the director and nowhere does that truly shine than in its storytelling and, of course, its creatures. One of the first we are introduced to, the fairies, show how del Toro can take an already understood concept and turn it on its head. The result is equal parts strange and beguiling.
There's something flat-out alien like about these creatures. From their insect-like wings to their colorful flesh and manner of speaking and moving, they're not exactly your typical pixie. Otherworldly and strangely lovable, del Toro's fairies are a refreshing take on a common creature.
16 IMPS/TOOTH FAIRIES
While we're on the subject of fairies, let's take a look at something on the other side of the spectrum. Where our last fairy species was beautiful and strange, these cellar-dwelling demons spin things in a different direction. With a vermin-like design and a hunger for the teeth and flesh of children, these little monsters are anything but beautiful.
More rat-like than fairy-like, the imps are incredibly unsettling when they come out to play in del Toro's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. With sharp teeth, glowing eyes, and fondness for bladed objects, these fairies are not what we'd call magical. Though their designs and concept is nothing but creative, del Toro still manages to crank out the stuff of nightmares.
15 TOOTH FAIRIES (HELLBOY)
Yet another version of a scary tooth fairy, these wicked little things come to us from Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Take the previously mentioned Imps and combine them with the insect-like qualities of the ones in Pan's Labyrinth and you've basically got these guys. With a more organic wing shape, spidery legs, and hunger for calcium, these guys are more than your basic pest.
Creepy but with a slightly cute quality, these tiny terrors are real maneaters and, according to Abe Sapien, will leave nothing left but their droppings. Part of us wishes they were the stars of the previously mentioned film. There's just something about their design that just screams del Toro, and we had to put them on the list.
14 SMAUG (CONCEPT ART)
Again we find ourselves asking "Why couldn't del Toro have directed The Hobbit?" Not that we didn't enjoy the ferocious fire drake we got with the Jackson films, but there's just something about the original design that harkens back to Tolkien's original text. Yet, it's still in need of Cumberbatch's voice.
del Toro's Smaug is more like what the author envisioned in our opinion. The book's Smaug was an older dragon, a being that was equal parts magnificent and terrible. This design looks more ancient, almost dinosaur-like. Though the Jackson version does harken to many illustrations of the character, we think del Toro's captures the representation just a little better.
13 CAVE TROLL
One of del Toro's designs that did make it all the way to Middle Earth was the giant cave troll wielded by the orcs in Moria. There are a million and a half ways one can design a troll, be it big and hairy or small, furry, and funny. del Toro gave us something completely different.
del Toro's cave troll is large lumbering and fleshy. He looks like he could be in the pit at Jabba's palace or in the halls of Hogwarts. There's a chimera effect in his design, taking elements from ogres, apes, and elephants to give us the monster we see in the film. This design no doubt influenced the trolls in The Hobbit, and it's one we can't be without.
12 THOMAS SHARPE'S GHOST
Crimson Peak was a near perfect haunted house film. The use of gothic atmosphere and chilling depictions of spirits was what set it apart from something like The Haunting or Thirteen Ghosts. Though nearly all the spirits will make an appearance on our list, we have to start with the ghost of Thomas Sharpe.
Sharpe makes our list because he is the only "beautiful" spirit to appear, and that's not just thanks to Tom Hiddleston. Of the specters featured in the film, he is the only one clad in the traditional white palate. The darkness did not consume him, so he remains a purer shade. Yet another example of del Toro's blend of magnificent and macabre.
11 KARL RUPRECHT KRONEN
Four words: Nazi-zombie-steampunk-cyborg. The infamous assassin Karl Ruprecht Kronen has a lot going on in terms of design and delivery. Easily one of the coolest and most cosplayed villains of Hellboy, this guy is like something Clive Barker would dream up, and we absolutely love it.
Scientist turned assassin, Kronen sports a hefty mix of black magic and evil sciences that bring him to life. Couple his mysterious and impressive design with his knack for swordplay and you've got yourself a pretty threatening villain. Easily more impressive than Rasputin in terms of delivery, we gotta give Kronen a spot on our list.
10 PALE MAN
Easily one of the scariest creatures on our list in terms of concept, the Pale Man is like a freaky Goya painting come to life. This child-eating nightmare is one of the two iconic creatures of Pan's Labyrinth and is nothing short of grotesque. With his beastly teeth, eye's in his hands, and horrifying shriek, we were definitely checking under the bed for him when we got home.
A somewhat more sinister version of Slenderman, the Pale Man is famine made flesh. He's forever hungry for new victims who disturb his hall. His scene with Ophelia has our hearts racing as he hunts her down, and it gives us palpitations every time. Scary and suspenseful, he's a monster worthy of the name.
In most fantasy films, elves are the wisest and fairest of all beings. Usually, they're blonde, beautiful, pointy-eared magic users or rangers with some strange and beautiful language. The elves in Hellboy II are certainly beautiful, but they're not exactly Legolas. These elves take a trip into the darker themes of their bright and magical peers.
There's something ancient and arcane about the elves in this adaptation. They're all blond and pale like your typical high-elf, but there's something vampiric about them as well. At the same time, they still fit the mystical beguile of the species. More complex than their Middle-Earth cousins perhaps, but definitely one of our favorite interpretations.
We've talked a lot about the titanic terrors of the Pacific Rim series when it comes to monsters, and can you really blame us? These horrors from the deep would give Godzilla a workout, no wonder we need a team of giant robots to take them out. They're as varied and unique as they are dangerous and destructive, and they're quite a step up from their Japanese inspirations.
Otachi, Trespasser, Knifehead, all menacing monikers for these mega-sized monsters. Del Toro's love letter to the Kaiju genre gave us not one, not two, but a legion of giant monsters wanting to wipe out the planet. One of the most colorful and creative sci-fi films in recent years, these guys make Pacific Rim a monster-lover's dream.
7 SPIRITS OF CRIMSON PEAK
We've already mentioned this gothic masterpiece once before, but we'd be ashamed if we didn't talk about the more horror based members of its spectral cast. The ghosts of Crimson Peak all suffered horrific fates before they died. Whether their neck was snapped, they drowned, or were otherwise mangled, the evidence shows in their spiritual form.
Like the mountain of red clay beneath the house, all the spirits bear a bloody hue. Like most restless spirits, they're prone to jump scares and unsettling movements worthy of a classic horror film, but it's their design that keeps our eyes on them. They're like sculptures come to life, forever frozen in anguish and terror. del Toro certainly has the designs down to an artform.
For those who think vampires need to be beautiful and mysterious, get a load of these things from Blade II. Similar to the vamps in del Toro's Strain series, these guys take more than a bite out of your typical bloodsucker. Biologically designed to be the better beast, the reapers are not your average vampire by any means.
Immune to garlic and silver, and certainly more voracious than your normal Nosferatu, the Reapers and the Reaper virus make for one intense battle against the undead. Their most prominent feature is the mandible like mouths that contain venomous fangs and a freaky tongue. Feeding on vampires and humans alike, the Reapers are one tough order for our favorite Daywalker.
5 MOTHER GHOST
Last Crimson Peak creature, we promise. We've spent a lot of time on the hauntingly beautiful spirits of the film, but nothing screams gothic more than the ghost of Edith's mother in the beginning scenes of the film. Bearing the incredible design by del Toro and the performance and grace of creature actor, Doug Jones, the Mother Ghost is pulled from regions beyond and becomes something grim but great.
With her black dress and veil, her skeletal face, and her swarm of moths flittering about her presence, she makes for one strikingly chilling visage. She's like a personification of a coffin, draped in velvet and riddled with bugs. Aside from the scarlet horrors of Crimson Peak, she's the most iconic creature in the film.
4 ABE SAPIEN
We've talked about red, now let's talk about blue. The brains to Hellboy's brawn, Abe Sapien is the highly intelligent, aquatic psychic-endowed fish-man on the BPRD team A fan favorite amongst fans of del Toro and the comics alike, the blue amphibious agent is a welcomed addition to our list.
This weird and wonderful water-dweller enjoys reading the classics, Rubix cubes, and snacking on 1000-year-old eggs. He's splendid and strange and makes for good comedy as well as complementing his big red companion. Like many monsters on this list, it's the charm and eccentric persona that truly wins us over.
3 AMPHIBIAN MAN
Speaking of eccentric amphibious creatures played by Doug Jones, The Shape of Water was an unconventional love story that had our hearts wrapped around its webbed finger with it's leading man/monster. The Amphibian Man was designed to incorporate features from classic Hollywood heartthrobs like George Clooney or Robert Redford, as well as features from the famous Creature from the Black Lagoon.
What grants this creature a spot on the list is not only his beautiful design but the fact his love interest and the audience are able to fall for him despite his monstrous form. It's like Beauty and the Beast minus the prince. It's a story and a monster certainly worthy of all those awards.
2 ANGEL OF DEATH
Eyes with wings, a heart of dust, and a raspy voice, it certainly sounds like the angel of death to us. This is by far the most incredible personification of death we've seen. There's so much going on in terms of design, presence, and performance. It's hard to pick just one attribute.
What gets us on board, other than yet another performance by Doug Jones, is the gentle but unsettling nature of the creature. His voice is not the sinister and commanding one normally seen with death. It's creepy, but we can't say that it's evil. The only true neutral party in the universe, equal parts beautiful and fearsome at the same time.
1 PAN/THE FAUN
Our number one spot goes to the creature many fans and filmmakers alike associate with del Toro himself, the Faun from Pan's Labyrinth. He might be a beautiful nature spirit, but this faun is far from Narnia. Like many del Toro creatures, there's something arcane and ancient about him, as well as a strange ambiguity about his true intentions.
His horns and parts of his flesh are like gnarled branches, and his organic features are more goat than humanoid, but these elements blend together so harmoniously it's magnificent. He's a fairytale creature mingling with the mortal realm, but he looks at home in both. He's the most beautiful creature in del Toro's cast of characters which grants him a spot at the top of our list.