Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 18
Pan's Labyrinth October 9, 1964
Guillermo Del Toro born

Guillermo Del Toro, the Oscar-nominated writer-director of Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies, today celebrates his 46th birthday. Del Toro is, in some senses, the ultimate fanboy filmmaker, a lifelong lover of movies and comic books who moved from aficionado to auteur, bringing an uncommon artistry, intelligence and sophistication to the horror and fantasy film genres. A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, del Toro was first drawn to horror movies – from the more cheap and cheesy 50s monster flicks and Hammer Horror movies to James Whale, Mario Bava and George A. Romero films – when he still extremely young. However, as he tells it, horror was all around him anyway. In interviews, he’s talked about seeing monsters in his bedroom as a toddler, and then being haunted by the ghost of his uncle – ironically, the man who had first introduced him to horror movies and novels. He began to draw his own monsters, and the fantastical world of horror he created became an escape from the world around him. (His grandmother, however, “went in with a vial of holy water and tried to exorcise me for the shit I was drawing. I started laughing and she got so scared that she threw more at me.") Also, says del Toro, being Mexican means that death is ever-present in his work: “I worked for months next to a morgue that I had to go through to get to work. I've seen people being shot; I've had guns put to my head; I've seen people burnt alive, stabbed, decapitated ... because Mexico is still a very violent place.” Del Toro first got into movies working in makeup and effects (he studied under the legendary Dick Smith), and later co-founded the Guadalajara Film Festival. In 1992, he directed his first feature, the inventive and macabre Cronos, and has not looked back since.


More Flashbacks
Dec. 18, 1958
Boris Karloff's nephews found murdered

On December 18, 1958, Boris Karloff was struck by a personal tragedy more horrible than any event depicted in one of his movies when his two great-nephews were discovered with their throats slit.

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December 18, 1966
Antonioni’s Blowup Defines Cool

In New York, crowds of hip cinephiles lined up to see Michelangelo Antonioni’s first English-language film Blowup. The Italian director had already risen to the top of everyone’s must-see list with movies like L'avventura and L’eclisse. But in Blowup, Antonioni took hipness to a whole new level. The script, based on a short story by Argentinean writer Julio Cortázar (who gets a walk on role in the film as a homeless man), involves a callous fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who believes he may have photographed a murder by accident, but finds he can’t prove it one way or other. While Blowup’s existential murder mystery was indeed compelling, it was its backdrop of swinging mod London that captured the most attention. Many felt the main character was modeled on the real-life jet-setting photographer David Bailey, and actual models Jane Birkin and Veruschka wander in and out the film’s world. At the party scene, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page of The Yardbirds play on stage (as themselves), and local personalities like Michael Palin (later of Monty Python) pop up in the crowd. The whole mishmash captured the London scene like nothing else had. Andrew Sarris called the movie "a mod masterpiece.” Playboy’s Arthur Knight went further by suggesting that in the future Blowup will be as “as important and germinal a film as Citizen Kane, Open City and Hiroshima, Mon Amour – perhaps even more so."

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