Mexican-born novelist, screenwriter, producer, and film director Guillermo del Toro Gómez is not just known for blockbusters such as the infamous comic book adaptation of ‘Hellboy’ (2004) and not so appealing science fiction outcast, ‘Pacific Rim’ (2013). Fortunately, he has produced a vast number of obscure fiction films, with the most notable of these being the fantastically creepy ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ (2006).
An escape into the amazing work and universe of Hayao Miyazaki offers some of the most brilliantly illustrated films of all times. He is also the founder of the creative powerhouse Studio Ghibli, where the childlike curiosity and playfulness of The Walt Disney films meet that delightful quirkiness that Japanese culture is known for. It is remarkably challenging to rank Hayao Miyazaki’s films, as each is unprecedented yet identically captivating. Watch ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ (1989), for a light-hearted trip with Kiki, the thirteen-year-old witch in practice, off on her first great adventure.
For artistic inspiration, follow the exquisitely animated, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ (2005), a heartfelt story of an adolescent and her journey to lift the curse that was placed on her. And, for a fantastical escape to a superb whimsical world, dreamers will be enchanted by ‘Spirited Away’ (2001), which follows little Chihiro on a surreal journey to liberate her parents after they discover an abandoned theme park, and is an illustration of just how formidable and talented Hayao Miyazaki is at his craft.
Critically acclaimed Spanish director, producer, and screenwriter Pedro Almodóvar Caballero is internationally recognised for his award-winning films. His 2002 drama ‘Talk to Her,’ which addresses complicated themes such as intimacy, loneliness, and love beyond loss, won him both the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
However, ‘The Skin I Live’ in (2011) is arguably Pedro Almodóvar Caballero‘s most controversial work yet. It tells the disturbing, grotesque, and beautifully sinister tale of a plastic surgeon that has been endeavouring to create a new, synthetic skin ever since his wife was burned and died in a car crash. After twelve years of research, all he needs now is a human guinea pig. Pedro Almodóvar Caballero himself has described ‘The Skin I Live’ in as “a horror film without screams or frights,” perfect for those that enjoy a psychological thriller.
If you are not into scaring yourself, but you are up for a good laugh instead, a bit of Barry Sonnenfeld is what you need. This North American filmmaker has collaborated with many well-known actors, such as Will Smith, Danny DeVito, and John Travolta; and has brought us a whole lot of fun-filled films, such as ‘Enchanted’ (2007), both an homage to, and self-parody of, Walt Disney’s animated features, and ‘Big’ (1988) starring Tom Hanks as the loveable Josh Baskin, who wants nothing more than to be a grown-up.
For something perfectly suited to a family friendly Halloween, spend the evening with the mysterious but lovable ‘Addams Family’ (1991) or join these kooky characters on their next adventure in the sequel, ‘Addams Family Values’ (1993). If science fiction is more your thing, you can not go wrong with Barry Sonnenfeld’s hilarious ‘Men in Black: Trilogy.’
And, last but not least, what fiction film list could leave out the king of quirky gothic films: Timothy Walter Burton? The list of dark, gothic, eccentric and quirky classics released by this film director, producer, artist, writer and animator is endless. Timothy Walter Burton has created a plethora of charmingly creepy, animated nightmare films that are perfect for watching, such as ‘Corpse Bride’ (2005), ‘Frankenweenie’ (2012) and the classic “is it a Halloween film? Is it a Christmas film?” conundrum that is ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’ (1993).
Other relevant films are the 2012 horror comedy film ‘Dark Shadows,’ about two-hundred-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins, portrayed by one of Timothy Walter Burton’s favourite actors; Johnny Depp. For a bloodier and more harmonious type of horror film, you should watch ‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ (2007). With quite a familiar storyline which was adapted from Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s 1979 musical of the same name. And, interpreting this deranged English barber who murders his customers with a razor, only for them to become the meat inside Mrs Lovett’s (Helena Bonham Carter’s,) is Johnny Depp of course.
Other memorable Timothy Walter Burton films introduce ‘Beetlejuice’ (1988) and ‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990), both of which have the trademark gothic quirkiness that makes his films so fitting for this season and perfectly re-watchable time and time again.