With the upcoming release of his newest film, ‘The Shape of Water,’ filmmaker Guillermo del Toro finally gets to do something he’s wanted to do since he was a little boy: make a “creature feature” movie about a water-based humanoid monster and the human female who loves him.
The auteur-to-big-budget director has long been a fan of the classic style of “monster movies,” including the seminal Universal Pictures film that directly inspired ‘The Shape of Water,’ the 1954 classic ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon.’ With Universal trying to relaunch their “Dark Universe” of creature-centric films (to varying degrees of failure so far), del Toro took the time in a recent interview to speak about why he thinks the new approach to the classic film fare isn’t working too well:
“I think that there is a postmodern attitude towards the genre that tries to disarm or disassemble the genre in a postmodern way and I think that when you approach characters with earnest love, it’s a lot less safe because you’re not above the material. You are high on your own supply and it’s easier to be ironic, so I think that’s part of it. But then you have ambivalent things like Jordan Peele nailing it and making it not ironic, but reflexive. And he’s a fusion of reverence and intelligence. It’s a good year for the genre for sure.”
Del Toro has also spoken about how he was heavily impressed upon as a youth by his viewing of ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ so much so that he desired to remake the film and actually spoke to the powers-that-be at Universal about it:
“The creature was the most beautiful design I’d ever seen, and I saw him swimming under [actress] Julie Adams, and I loved that the creature was in love with her, and I felt an almost existential desire for them to end up together. Of course, it didn’t happen.
“I went to Universal and I said, ‘Can we [remake] the movie from the point of view of the creature?’ They didn’t go for it. I said, ‘I think they should end up together.’ They didn’t go for that, either.“
While ‘The Shape of Water’ will feature some differences as well as similarities to del Toro’s classic inspiration, it certainly would have been interesting to see him behind the director’s chair of one or more “Dark Universe” films.