Some people are good at simple, low-key activities like word search puzzles and rollerblading in the favelas of Columbia. Others, like Guillermo del Toro, have a talent for terrifying the soul.
Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities anthology series has gotten a lot of deserved hype. The man is a master of making art out of monsters. Behind many of those monsters, there are digital touches that require a sense of finesse to accurately represent del Toro’s intricate visual style.
One of these melds of art in motion and digital VFX technology was the monster of the “Lot 36” episode with Tim Blake Nelson. The creature looks like a demon octopus with a slimed serpentine tail and a bursting display of tentacles that look designed to attract squids in mating season. Oh, and her name is Dottie.
Del Toro said of the Lot 36 monster:
“Normally the creatures are a combination of digital and physical. I always advocate a physical element, and then enhance it digitally.”
Many of del Toro’s monsters are developed by prosthetics artist Mike Hill, who has put together the physical elements that make so many of del Toro’s creatures unsettling. Hill described in a Mashable article that he needs to provide the monsters with a visceral sense of dread, and he even goes as far as looking at mummified bodies to get a sense for texture and realism. The “Dottie” octopus monster was a blend of body casting actors and using SFX to build the suit. Digital enhancements were used for the tentacles.
Every creature in Cabinet of Curiosities is a horror delight. Befores and Afters already put together an awesome breakdown of some of the other monsters, like the “Queen Rat”, which is an ornery fanged rat mother in the episode “Graveyard Rats”. Honestly, if you don’t shit your pants, you might be a sociopath.
The cast is great, with character actors like Tim Blake Nelson, F. Murray Abraham, and Crispin Glover appearing in episodes. It kind of feels like Netflix bringing a literary approach to their brand with an artistic horror anthology, similar to how FX has done North Dakota crime so well with Fargo.
Cabinet of Curiosities aired as a four-night Halloween event and can be streamed now on Netflix.