Guillermo del Toro Plunges into the Gothic Horror of The Night of the Hunter

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Nov 21, 2018


The year before his dark, fantastical romance The Shape of Water rode an Oscar wave to remember, taking home four statues, including best director and best picture, Guillermo del Toro talked with us about some of his most formative experiences at the movies. To this day, del Toro’s Adventures in Moviegoing episode—in which he and MythBusters’ Adam Savage discuss the director’s revelatory encounters with such films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Taxi Driver, and Los olvidados—is among our favorite programs on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, our streaming home for the last two years.

Before the service finally shuts down at the end of next week—and the Criterion team starts working toward the spring-2019 launch of our own freestanding streaming service—we’re presenting one last piece from that memorable shoot: del Toro’s introduction to Charles Laughton’s southern-gothic masterpiece The Night of the Hunter, which the acclaimed fabulist selected for the series that accompanies his Adventures conversation. In the video above, del Toro marvels at the 1955 film’s contrasting of surreal, lyrical moments with the “spirit of dread” embodied by Robert Mitchum’s murderous preacher—an unpredictable combination that would prove hugely influential on del Toro’s own style. Having lived outside his native Mexico for more than two decades, the filmmaker also takes The Night of the Hunter—a movie about the horrifying underbelly of American life by the acclaimed actor and only onetime director Laughton, who originally hailed from across the pond—as proof that the state of exile can ultimately sharpen an artist’s perceptions.