10/20 – 2006: PAN’S LABYRINTH

“Hell Is For Children”, Pat Benatar told us, but nobody knows this better than one of my favorite filmmakers, GUILLERMO DEL TORO.  “War Is Hell” is a topic that’s never been up for debate, and at its hungriest, it’s a bloodthirsty beast that spares no one, especially kids. Del Toro chronicled its devastating effects on the little ones in not one, but two classic films: THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE and PAN’S LABYRINTH.

LABYRINTH is the harrowing story of young Ofelia (wonderfully played by IVANA BAQUERO), whose pregnant mother has recently married the cruel warmonger, Captain Vidal, (a stunning portrait of evil portrayed excellently by SERGI LOPEZ.) Vidal is part of the fascist Falangist army that was an integral part of Franco’s rule over Spain at the time, 1944.

Ofelia, a huge fan of fairy tales, finds herself living one, when a faerie leads her into a Labyrinth, where she meets the old Faun to whom it belongs, and vice versa.

The Faun tells her that she’s actually a princess, and that her real father, the King, has been waiting for her in the “make-believe” realm.  But in order to see him again and take her rightful place once more, she must pass three crucial tests.


One of those tests involves bringing back something from the lair of the fearsome “Pale Man”, a task that she barely accomplishes without losing her life.

As gruesome as some of the horrors are in the world of the Labyrinth, none of them holds a candle to the brutalities perpetrated by Ofelia’s vain, cruel stepfather, and that’s part of the point.

Ofelia’s brave quest to complete all of the tests and finally see her real father, leads to a violent and finally tragic collision of both worlds. Is the story destined for a “happily ever after” kind of conclusion? Maybe, but keep in mind that this is a Guillermo del Toro story…

Masterful character actor DOUG JONES added two more unforgettable entities to his ‘coterie of creatures’, with his stunning dual portrayals of the Faun and the Pale Man. Though he would continue to play creatures well after LABYRINTH, the next one to make such a powerful impression on audiences wouldn’t come about until del Toro’s latest breathtaking film, THE SHAPE OF WATER.

If you’ve never seen a Guillermo del Toro film, this would be an excellent place to start. If you have, especially this one, there’s no better way I can think of to revisit his brand of dark magic…

POST-MORTEM SCRYPT: 2006 also delivered unto horror-hungry fans such outstanding films as SLITHER, BEHIND THE MASK, THE HOST, FIDO, THEM, SEVERANCE, SILENT HILL, Aja and Levasseur’s shockingly good remake of Wes Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES and THE BABY’S ROOM.

Posted by Samuel Glass

1 comment

Another great article Samuel, really enjoying your entries in this series.

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