A Hell Of A Tale
♦ Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water comes out in UK cinemas on Valentine’s Day and so Tripwire’s editor-in-chief will be reviewing every film he has made up to this point. Today it’s the turn of his fifth film, Hellboy, released in 2004
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Ron Perlman, John Hurt, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans, Doug Jones
Two years after he made Blade II, del Toro’s adaptation of Mike Mignola’s Dark Horse Comics creation Hellboy manages to bring all of the director’s finest touches together in one film.
Hellboy, played by Ron Perlman in heavy makeup and suit, was summoned to Earth by Nazis during the Second World War. Raised by his adopted father, Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm (John Hurt), Hellboy is part of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, a group that also includes amphibian Abe Sapien (the body of Doug Jones and the voice of David Hyde Pierce) and firestarter Liz Sherman (Selma Blair). The BPRD is there to investigate and defeat the dark forces of the world. A new member of the team arrives, FBI agent John Myers (Rupert Evans), as Bruttenholm is looking for someone to take over as Hellboy’s guardian.
To complicate things, the evil Nazis who summoned Hellboy originally plus the resurrected Rasputin (Karel Roden) have resurfaced and are bent on using Hellboy to summon the dark gods from another dimension.
Blade 2 felt like a training ground for Hellboy, where del Toro honed his abilities on a big budget horror movie. Two years on, Hellboy looks and feels like the work of a far more accomplished and confident director. Perlman makes for a brilliant Hellboy with his cigar and his wisecracking while there is real heart and emotion here, something that was lacking in Blade II.
The director with the aid of co-screenwriter Peter Briggs and his regular cinematographer Guillermo Navarro really brings Mignola’s world to life with style and flair. John Hurt brings gravitas to the film and Selma Blair is a suitably vulnerable female lead here, stuck in a love triangle between herself, the central character and new member Myers.
Hellboy is a love letter to the films of Ray Harryhausen but it also includes those wonderful gothic touches that del Toro has made his trademark over his career. A talking corpse that Hellboy reanimates to find out the location of Rasputin’s tomb is a nice nod to Hellboy comic story The Corpse while the army of demonic beasts that Hellboy and Co have to track down and destroy also look like they’ve just stepped out of the comic’s pages.
Hellboy manages to incorporate light and shade in a way that very few horror films manage and del Toro balances the gothic horror with the humour perfectly. Hellboy is a wonderfully entertaining horror adventure tale with clockwork killers, evil Nazis, gods from other dimensions and the late, great John Hurt. What more could you ask for?
Here’s Eight Days of del Toro Day Two: Mimic too
And here is The Devil’s Backbone review as well…
Finally here is Day Three: Blade II