Exploring Dark Fantasy [Special Edition]


The film genre of Dark Fantasy has been around for a while but it’s not the cup of tea for everyone. In this series of “Exploring Dark Fantasy”, we will look into films that have been around for a while, and who knows maybe they are interesting for someone who has never heard of these kinds of films or doesn’t know much about the films in this genre.


The particularity of this genre is that it incorporates darker and more frightening themes of fantasy. But before starting officially with the series, we will first have this special edition dedicated to the best work of Guillermo del Toro (in my opinion).

It is difficult to talk about Dark Fantasy without mentioning Guillermo del Toro as a filmmaker (writer and director). Especially after his big win at the Oscars this year for the nomination of Best Director for his film “The Shape of Water”.

Okay, maybe I’m a little biased because I am a fan of his work.  He tells his stories with Dark Fantasy and Gothic elements which are based on his life experiences. His movies show an interesting style of filmmaking. What better way to start this series of Dark Fantasy Films than with some of his most interesting films?


Cronos (1993)

If you are interested in the concept of alchemy and the supernatural this film will be a good watch for you.  It has a very particularly weird story that combines elements of alchemy and vampirism. What’s the story about?

A mysterious device designed to provide its owner with eternal life resurfaces after four hundred years, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. Starring Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook and Margarita Isabel, the film is a horror drama with strong mythology and religious references. For more specific details about the film visit our previous post “5 Interesting Foreign Sci-Fi Fantasy Film Vol.1.”


The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

The Devil’s Backbone story takes place during the Spanish Civil War. After his father died in the Spanish Civil War Carlos is sent to an orphanage. Two Republicans bring him to the orphanage operated by Casares and Carmen. Casares and Carmen are aligned with the Republican loyalist and are hiding a large cache of gold that is used to back the Republican treasury. The orphanage has received attacks from Francisco Franco’s troops, and there is a diffused bomb in the home’s courtyard.

Soon after arriving at the orphanage Carlos starts having visions of a mysterious apparition and heard strange stories about a boy named Santi who went missing the day the bomb appeared near the orphanage.  Starring Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, and Fernando Tielve, this gothic horror story shows a portrait of childhood in a time of war. It is a ghost story that tries to show you the struggles in this case of children during the Spanish Civil War.


Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

“Pan’s Labyrinth” or “El Laberinto del Fauno’, after ‘Cronos’ and ‘The Devil’s Backbone has been Del Toro’s most recognized work internationally for winning the Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Makeup. The film is a straightforward Dark fantasy that in a way continuous, after the Devil’s Backbone, to show the realities of the Spanish Civil War.

This time the story is told through a mythical world of strange creatures. What’s the story about? In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer, played by actress Ivana Baquero, escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world. For more details about the film visit our previous post “5 Interesting Foreign Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films Vol.2.


Crimson Peak (2015)

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and Tom Hiddleston the film tells the story of an aspiring author who in the aftermath of a family tragedy is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds, and remembers.

This time we are presented with a gothic romantic drama that is centered on relationships like family relationships, and romantic relationships and the dangers that come when those two kinds of relationships are mixed.  There is one metaphor in the story that represents all the ugly in one’s life and how not letting go of the past can haunt you in the present and prevent you to live your life your way.


The Shape of Water (2017)

After Pan’s Labyrinth, this will be probably Del Tor’s most recognized work for its success at the Oscars. The movie stands out for its unconventional love story between a mute woman, played by Sally Hawkins, and an amphibian man, played by Doug Jones. Her circle of friends includes Giles, a gay person, played by Richard Jenkins, and Zelda, a person of color who is her superior at work, played by Octavia Spencer. What’s the story about?

At a top-secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.  This dark fantasy drama is not only about a love story but also about relationships with friends and family or people you consider family but are not blood-related. It shows the ugly side of what we consider perfection.

In the end, we see that there is nothing perfect, our “imperfections” are our strength. We all have something others don’t have, a talent, a birthmark, something that makes us different and stand out. That makes people envious and they will try to convince you to change and become the same as the rest. If you think about it they are not really imperfections. Just because it’s different it’s not perfect? There is nothing wrong with being different. Embrace who you are, that is your strength.


Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed this special edition of Dark Fantasy where we discussed Guillermo del Toro’s work in this genre. If you are interested to check more of his work, he has an animated series on Netflix titled Trollhunters. It’s a Fantasy series that both kids and adults can enjoy.

There are plans to expand the universe of Trollhunters with two new animated shows. One will be a Sci-Fi show about Aliens and the other will be a Fantasy show about Wizards. This last one will be more interconnected uniting the worlds of Trolls, Aliens, and Wizards.

Hope this was an interesting read for you. Many thanks for visiting this page. Feel free to leave your thoughts and feedback in the comment section below.

Sources: IMDb



Hi There! I am Sci-Fi Fan who wishes to share the love for Sci-Fi. Whether you know about Sci-Fi or not, on SFM&TV you will find interesting material to explore. I'll be happy to share with you what I know and to learn from you as well.

10 thoughts on “Exploring Dark Fantasy [Special Edition]”
  1. I LOVED The Shape of Water…and I’m so happy it won so many Oscars this year. It was such an unusual and imaginative film and I was honestly shocked that it captured so much acclaim because of its outsider status. and I really need to go back and watch Guillermo del Torro’s other films because of it. I like the idea of dark fantasy and your explanation of the genre.

  2. Hello Dira,
    I enjoy being on your site again.I love it. From the list you have here I have seen The Shape Of Water and was a really great film. The other films you have here I don’t know but one I will surely try is Crimson Peak, Sounds great when I read your review.
    Can I ask something? What is the difference between science fiction and dark fantasy genre?
    Thanks for sharing:)
    Have a good day,

    1. Hi Cristina,

      That’s an interesting question.
      When talking about science fiction, you have to imagine that there is a science element somewhere in the story, whether its the exploration of space, the exploration of quantum physics or biochemical engineering, Science Fiction stories take what we know about science and exaggerate it or enhance it.
      Before looking into Dark Fantasy, let’s talk about Fantasy as a genre. Fantasy stories are based on the unlimited imagination. From fairies, and elves to magic Fantasy is a genre where all kinds of stories are possible. The stories have a positive message or theme and usually have or are aspiring for a happy ending. Dark Fantasy, on the other hand, presents stories that come from a difficult place. Negative emotions such as hurt, envy, anger, and revenge are the emotions the characters in these kinds of stories are most familiar with. Most of these stories (not all) usually don’t have a happy ending. Hope this answers your question.
      Thanks for taking time to read my article. See you around!

  3. Pan’s Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies of all time. I think Del Toro’s work in this genre is second to none. I have not seen shape of water as of yet buy seriously cannot wait! Great list!

  4. Pan’s Labyrinth is my all time favorite but in all honesty I don’t mind seeing the other films from time to time. There is something about the way he makes his films that makes them stand out one way or the other. I am a fan of the animated series as well.
    I wish he could make one monster movie; Frankenstein, The Monster from the Black Lagoon, etc, any monster would be great. I am very curious to see a modern version of the Universal Monsters Universe that don’t cater to the stars but hold to the story as the most important.

    1. Hi Dave,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Same as you I also believe that he would be perfect to revive that universe under the condition that the remains with the creative control and minimal studio intervention.

  5. OMG! This is awesome!
    You just listed all my favorites. I’ve watched Shape of Water multiple times. I bought the book as well. The story is very interesting and helps to start conversations about individuality, discrimination, sexuality, etc. It is nice to see movies such as this gaining popularity on the mainstream platform.

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