The Horror, The Horror

Buggin' Out: Director Guillermo Del Toro on the set of Mimic.

CP: In Mimic, there was something about how the creatures' bloody innards moved and sounded that reminded me of The Thing, and no wonder; the makeup FX in both films were designed by Rob Bottin.

GDT: Carpenter is not one of my favorite filmmakers, but the first time I saw The Thing, my breath left me a couple of times and I didn't know where it had gone. The only problem is the ending, which is just totally unsatisfactory: You watch the two main characters struggle through the whole film, and then it just comes to this nihilistic non-ending.

CP: That reminds me: I wanted to ask about your degree of faith in the happy ending, because, by comparison to a lot of horror films, the end of Mimic is sort of transcendent.

GDT: I knew that if I put these two yuppies through the grinder of hell, they would be more alive at the end, they would love each other more, and they would have the family that they deserve. And they're not choosy anymore. That kind of human fragility moves me. People ask why I let them live, and I say, "Well, if you kill everybody, no one learns a lesson." To me, this is a very Catholic concept of redemption through pain.

CP: Speaking of which, your next project, Mephisto's Bridge, is being exec-produced by Martin Scorsese, for whom painful, Catholic redemption is also a running theme, right? Have you talked with him about that?

GDT: Well, Scorsese talks very fast. When we met for Mephisto, he said, "Why d'ya want me to do this movie?"--all in one syllable. I said, "Well, I think you'd be perfect because of the Catholic themes, and..." "Yes, but why? Why me? Why this movie?" I said, "Well, because Mephisto is the Book of Job meets It's a Wonderful Life." And he said, "Perfect. Let's do it." I think both of us feel that It's a Wonderful Life already is the Book of Job: You have a man who's put through a test and who asks God, "Show me the way." And at the end of it all, he learns a lesson. That's what I mean about a satisfactory ending.

CP: That kind of pure faith is unfashionable these days, especially in horror.

GDT: You have to go for the ending that moves you. I don't want to be one of those ironic directors, smoking a cigarette in a coffee shop and talking about how great I am, how I'm gonna end It's a Wonderful Life with George Bailey coming off the bridge saying, "I'm alive," and then he gets killed by a sudden bolt of lightning--The End. Actually, now that I think about it, that's not a bad ending.

Mimic is playing at area theaters.

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