It is monster season, with attractions throughout Southern California trying to scare up attendance with Halloween theme makeovers and gimmicks. While Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, Knott’s Scary Farm, and Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest appeal to teens and young adults, those looking for a more high-brow ghoulish delight should visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for a seasonal treat: Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters.
From the minute visitors enter the gallery, they are reminded of the scary creatures and that infuse del Toro’s horror films and other works that inspired him from his childhood that led to some of his most creative work. Examples include the towering replica of the Angel of Death from “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” as well as full-size replicas of visually striking monsters from the fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth” and the gothic “Crimson Peak.”
“At Home With Monsters” debuted this summer, but the unusual exhibit is available for delights this Halloween season. In fact, the show will be there until Nov. 27 and features items from his films, the 51-year-old’s personal collections, and objects from LACMA’s permanent trove that reflect the broad scope of del Toro’s creative and creepy inspirations that have made the filmmaker successful. This eye-popping show contains literally hundreds of paintings, costumes, props, statues, books, and other display items on horror, monsters, the occult, magic, the macabre, and more.
The LACMA exhibit is organized into distinct sections, including:
- Childhood and Innocence, exploring how children’s ability to perceive alternate realities and give unfiltered expression to their imagination and such;
- Victoriana (the Romantic, Victorian, and Edwardian ages), such as works of Charles Dickens, who inspired the name of del Toro’s own home Bleak House, where he regularly displays many of these treasures.
- The section on Magic, Alchemy, and the Occult demonstrates how monks, alchemists, talismanic devices and other items from his films explore the boundaries between religion and forbidden knowledge as well as the split between science and horror that underlies much of the genre.
- Movies, Comics, and Pop Culture examines the world of B movies and horror films from directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Luis Buñuel besides del Toro.
- The filmmaker’s interest in tragic monsters and computer-generated as well as other images of them is displayed in Freaks and Monsters, which includes his ideas for distinguishing elements that shaped his films.
- The director/producer’s lifelong favorite monster gets more attention. His fascination with Dr. Frankenstein and his monstrous creation is the heart of the Frankenstein and Horror portion of the LACMA exhibit.
- Appropriately, the last section of the exhibit looks at Death and Afterlife.
Guillermo del Toro grew up in Mexico before making a name for himself with Spanish-language fantasies, American gothic horror films and later quirky superhero/science fiction films. The LACMA show will not appeal to fans of some of his work as a producer (i.e., “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Puss in Boots”). However, the seasonal treat of Del Toro’s “At Home with Monsters” should appeal to those who want to celebrate the season without roller coasters, candy, and costumes as well as those who are fans of the genres included.
Written and Edited By Dyanne Weiss
Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters
Los Angeles Times: For the love of monsters: An insider tour of Guillermo del Toro’s Bleak House before his LACMA show
Variety: The Most Memorable Monsters at Guillermo del Toro’s LACMA Exhibit
LA Tourist: Halloween Events at Major Theme Parks in the Los Angeles Area
Photo of Guillermo del Toro with his sculpture of Sammael from the movie “Hellboy” at Bleak House. Photo courtesy Insight Editions.
Photo of Guillermo del Toro’s Bleak House © Josh White/ JWPictures.com