Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
Must-Have Movie Collectibles
Bid on some classic memorabilia
Empire Blogs
Comic-Con 2010

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Panel Report: Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

Posted on Saturday July 24, 2010, 08:32 by James White in Comic-Con 2010
Panel Report: Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

There is no getting away from it: Guillermo del Toro is one of the true kings of Comic-Con.

Even when he’s the surprise guest (such as Thursday’s Tron Legacy panel), he can command the audience like few other filmmakers, blending raw, funny language with passion and insight into the business. So when the event is focused on a film that the beloved Mexican multi-hyphenate has co-written and produced, it was hardly a surprise that he dominated the time and got the lion’s share of the questions.

Despite the presence of director Troy Nixey (who was introduced as “from Canada, so be gentle”), it was del Toro’s domain. The reaction was nothing less than rapturous as he was announced and arrived on stage to proclaim that he was delighted with the chocolates left waiting for him. “That’s how they attract fat people,” he quipped. “They put f****ng chocolate here and I’m driven.”

But ever the magnanimous collaborator, he was quick to acknowledge how impressed he was with Nixey’s work in comics before they ever worked together, and to single him out as a solid talent behind the camera.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a modern update of a vaguely obscure 1970’s TV movie that had a big impact on the young del Toro and his brothers, who for years were convinced that they were the only kids who had seen the thing. The basic plot finds a girl named Sally sent to live with her father and his new girlfriend, who discovers that the creepy old house that she’ll spend her days has an even darker, fairy-flavoured secret in the basement. And, tapping into classic stories of stolen children and changelings, these little monsters aren’t as friendly as they claim to be.

As producer/moderator Nick Nunziata kept things moving (though even he yielded the lion’s share of the mic time to the man that everyone wanted to talk to), del Toro cued up a first look montage that set the scene for the film’s tone more than the plot. Whispery voices bring the fairytale feeling, and there’s a distinctly creepy feeling to everything. The big scare moment comes as the young heroine of the film (Bailiee Madison) exploring under her covers, only to be confronted by a sudden beast. Cue loud jump scare and cut to black…

“Did you s**t your pants?” del Toro asks the crowd. “I did.” He goes on to explain how it’s been a long, tough journey to the screen for the movie, which he wrote with Mimic co-scribe Matthew Robbins back in 1997. He’s been struggling to get to a place where he has creative control. But that’s not the only thing on his mind. While he announces, far too late given the salty language so far, that children should leave the room, admitting, “It’s like Sesame Street, but Motherfucker is the word of the day. I’m not Elmo…” The man is a born entertainer. The warning, however late, is well intentioned, since the director/writer/producer next assures us all that no-one associated with the film is “f*****g chickening out.” He goes on to relate the comical tale of the film’s rating: “we didn’t have any profanity, except on the set, and no sexual situations, just lots of scares. The MPAA struck back an "R" for "pervasive scariness" and when they asked if anything can be done, the board said, "Why ruin a perfectly scary movie?" Del toro says that horror is like a pirate ship, the more "R" the better… Cheesy, but he made it work.

Oh, and this too: “Horror movies need to have balls and those balls need to be sweaty and wrinkled!” Quote of the day, anyone? Possibly only matched by “this movie is as serious as a case of Gonorrhoea…”

Most of the rest of the panel was a parade of fans asking the cinematic icon about every aspect of his work (with a few throwing Nixey the chance to answer). But it was del Toro’s candid, easygoing style that won the day once more, including stories about nearly going broke making Chronos.

And should you be harbouring your own ambitions to crack into movies or comics via his patronage, you can approach him in public or email him. No, honestly… he invites it.

The panel wrapped up with another look at the movie; this time, the entire prologue, set in 1918. We’re introduced to an ill-fated maid whose master has a rather urgent need for her “beautiful precious teeth.” Which he proceeds to chisel out of her mouth in a scene that, even if it doesn’t linger on the violence, had most of the audience grimacing. Which, we’re guessing, was exactly what Guillermo was hoping for…

Login or register to comment.


Log in below, or register to post comments
Remember Me:


Empire States (443)

Under The Radar (335)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (36)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


The European Film Awards 2014: A Victory For Ida
By Damon Wise

Cannes Film Festival 2014: Awards Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance London: An Introduction To The 2014 Edition
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
By Damon Wise

Sundance 2014: First Report
By Damon Wise

Shane Carruth Interview: Upstream Color
By Damon Wise

Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac: First Look
By Damon Wise

The European Film Awards 2013
By Damon Wise

Metro Manila Charity Screenings
By Damon Wise


Sundance 2014: Final Wrap
"lights of both competitors alongside its traditional 24/7 series. Here we have the greatest hits of "  lalkala000
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Ha ha, buuuurn! I am going to go a step further and say Dredd was a better film."  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"You are a miserable old fart! "  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Doug64 I totally agreed with you"  Crazel
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Am I the only person in the world who doesn't think The Raid is all that great? I realise you have t"  doug64
Read comment

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look
"Great write-up on a movie for which I am incredibly excited. Even more promisingly, this seems to be"  tysmuse
Read comment

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double
"If being on a par with Terry Gilliam's 'daft' Brazil is the only criticism avowed Gilliam-disliker D"  Garth_Marenghi
Read comment

Venice 2013: Under The Skin
"I'm glad that Glazer's finally back on the big screen. Judging by the review, he"  Manfrendshensindshen
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"What's really interesting about this film is the trailer gives nothing away but give you the premise"  durelius
Read comment

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World
"Looks majestic. Can't wait to see this particularly if it lives up to the slowly-building hype."  herbertwest1701
Read comment


Why I Love Django Unchained

Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look

Venice 2013: Gravity Is Out Of This World

Venice 2013: Under The Skin

Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part Two

Sundance 2013: The Round-Up Part 5

Argo: a round table encounter with Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman

Cannes 2013: Some Thoughts On The Official Lineup

Sundance 2014: Final Wrap

Damon Wise (298)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (21)
Owen Williams (21)
Simon Braund (6)
Nev Pierce (5)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)
Will Lawrence (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)

Showrunner Beau Willimon Reveals 8 House Of Cards Secrets
On Kevin Spacey’s dog-dispatching and more…

21 Great Movie Cons
Fleece your friends with these duplicitous devices...

Empire Podcast 150: Margot Robbie
The Focus (and Wolf Of Wall Street) star from the Top Gear track...

Empire's New Spectre Issue Covers
First look at Bond 24 in Empire's April issue

Vote For The Jameson Empire Awards 2015!
Your mission is clear...

Sleeping Beauties: The Story Behind 12 Of Cinema's Unlikeliest Hits
They came, they saw, they surprisingly conquered

Writer / Director Dan Gilroy Reveals 8 Nightcrawler Secrets
On Jake Gyllenhaal's hand-slicing mirror smash and more...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)