Cabinet Of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections And Other Obsessions by Gullermo Del Toro (book review).

The one thing that is most obvious from director Gullermo Del Toro’s book ‘Cabinet Of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections And Other Obsessions’ is that he’s a bona fide geek. Then considering that Jim Cameron is also a geek and writes the introduction about his pal, this shouldn’t be surprising. In other words, he’s one of us. The fact that he has the money to fulfil his collection, seeing he has an original Richard Corben painting used in ‘Heavy Metal’ in the opening pages speaks for itself. This book will let us see what motivates his interests and collection. As his tastes also goes towards horror fantasy, then this book will be of specific interest to those of you who have similar tastes.


Seeing some of Del Toro’s private museum, Bleak House, just made me more hungry for more. His life-like statues of Lovecraft, Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster with make-up artist Jack Pierce as well as a couple of the people from Todd Browning’s film ‘Freaks’ are certainly eye-openers. If any of your nearest and dearest complain about the size of your own collections, show them Del Toro’s photos as he has devoted an entire mansion to put it in. He also likes a selection of contrasting artists, even with a feel for the dark side of life. There is one odd bit of confusion as Del Toro professes a love for Kirby and John Romita Sr, yet from the 60s on, I can’t recall either artist doing anything in the horror/mystery genre other than the former’s sixteen issue ‘The Demon’ for DC Comics.

The greater part of his book is devoted to Del Toro’s notebooks. He uses them to record all his ideas and illustrations, especially when working on his films. The director points out that his daughters will find them instructional when they are older although looking at the wealth of ideas from the sample here, I can’t help but wonder if they’ll be over-whelmed by so much. Next to each page is a typed translation, as Del Toro writes in English and Mexican, so everyone should be able to read them. When you combine them with his discussions of his films and unfulfilled projects, you do get an incredible insight into what makes Del Toro tick. He admits to not being afraid to recycle his ideas and common themes like goggles and such get re-used. It was interesting to note that he thought like me that the horns on Hellboy’s head were goggles initially as well.

There are assorted photos included from said films but don’t expect to find that many, just the ones that appealed to him. His latest film, ‘Pacific Rim’, is included but not in as much detail as the other films. As both are released this year and must have been finished at the same time, I suspect to some expect, that was all the space allowed for it.

Added to this are interviews with him and testaments from Del Toro’s workers and friends. If there is fault then its Del Toro repeating things in his introduction that he says later in the book with an interview but I put that to inexperience in this medium.

This is a long but interesting read. If you’re heavily ingrained to liking Del Toro’s films, this book is going to be manna from heaven. I only wish other directors were as candid as this and I suspect after you’ve looked at this book, would love to see more of his Bleak House, although I’m not sure I would want to walk around it in the dark or at night. We’re all geeks under the skin, assuming Del Toro hasn’t removed some of it for one of his films.

GF Willmetts

October 2013

(pub: Titan Books. 263 page illustrated large hardback. Price: £39.95 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78116-926-1)

check out websites: www.titanbooks.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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