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Bloodsuckers, magic realism, and caviar Twinkies

The UFOs, Catholic guilt, and voracious appetites behind my horror-ful life
By GUILLERMO DEL TORO  |  October 21, 2010

1010_deltoro_amin
MAGIC REALISM IS
very squirrely, very slippery. When you're born in Mexico, you're born into it. Literally, at my house.

My father is the squarest man on Earth and is incredibly prosaic. My dad never goes to movies. I don't think he has ever read any fiction in his life. But he has seen UFOs. And he talks about them. He says my mother and him and my brothers saw UFOs come out of the sea into a mothership in the clouds.

My dad has seen ghosts, my mother has seen ghosts, I have heard ghosts, I've seen UFOs, and no one thinks anything about it. And if you say to my dad, "Is it true that you saw UFOs?", he says, "Yeah, the sea illuminated and they started popping, and there was this cigar in the clouds, and they were full of lighting and they were going in."

You say, "How many?"

He says, "Oh, a lot. It went on for about 20 minutes. And then I went to sleep because they just kept coming."

That's my dad.

Has anybody read Juan Rulfo, the Mexican writer? To me, him and Borges are the greatest. I identify with them because they have an incredible, genuine power. It's like Day of the Dead, when you're Mexican. When you're morbid, they say, "Day of the Dead." And magical realism is equally as slippery for me. We're just really weird people. And I like that.

***

IF I HAD TO DEFINE myself as an entity with one word, I would use the word "voracity."

I live my life as voraciously as anyone can. I have an urgency to be. To be there, to be doing things, to try everything. I learn from every experience. I'm developing animation with Dreamworks. I'm doing video games. And writing for video games is an incredible exercise. Writing for fiction. They're all different.

I think the world is a banquet. And you should not have only caviar, or Twinkies. You should have caviar-filled Twinkies.

I have many, many fetishes. I love the color amber, the color steel blue, I love the contrast between them. I love clockwork. I love things in jars. I love Catholic imagery.

When I grew up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who was as Catholic as Piper Laurie in Carrie. She was very intense. She used to put upside-down bottle caps in my shoes for me to do penance. And I would bleed in my shoes. My mother eventually discovered this, and she slapped me into reason, and they had a big fight. But the thing with the love story with my grandmother is that I loved her in spite of everything.

In my film Cronos, I wrote the girl after me. I wanted the girl to love her grandfather, even if he was falling to pieces and drinking somebody else's blood. The Catholic imagery about drinking the blood and eating the flesh struck me as a child, very strong. It's a very Catholic — or lapsed Catholic — movie, because I'm sure you wouldn't see it in a Sunday church, but it is full of all that. It's full of loss.

***

I'VE BEEN OBSESSED by vampire folklore since I was a kid. And I was a really weird kid.

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  Topics: Features , Mexico, Movies, Guillermo del Toro,  More more >
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