Are you excited for “The Shape of Water”?
Earlier today, on my Instagram feed, I saw a few posts regarding The Shape of Water. It was a simple, yet beautiful image of a woman and an aquatic monster best recognized as Gill-Man. I thought it was just fan art for one of the most beloved of Universal Monsters – Creature from the Black Lagoon. But I was mistaken. As I researched this further, not knowing if this was a stealth release by Universal, much like Paramount and Bad Robot’s Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, I soon realized something wonderful – The Shape of Water is not just a new film, but the latest offering from one of the best directors in the business today – Guillermo del Toro.
I must start out with saying that The Shape of Water is not a Universal Pictures film. It’s by FOX Searchlight, but given the nature of the film, I’d like to talk about it here with a classic top five list on why I’m excited for The Shape of Water as a Universal Monsters fan.
I. Creature from the Black Lagoon
As I first mentioned, I thought the poster art for The Shape of Water was fan art for Universal’s Creature from the Black Lagoon. When I learned that this was for a movie, I really hoped Universal was surprising us with a stealth release for their next installment in the “Dark Universe.” I was proven wrong, yet I was so excited to see the closest thing to a Creature from the Black Lagoon film that we’re probably going to get. The screenplay by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor certainly pays heavy homage to the Gill-Man, as does the monster make-up and plot point that reveals that “the natives in the Amazon worshiped it [the Creature] as a god.”
II. Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro has made no secret of his love of the classic Universal Monsters, along with acknowledging that his favorite novel is Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” del Toro has long been rumored to be involved with the “Dark Universe” and was originally associated with reboots of “Frankenstein” and Creature from the Black Lagoon. It looks like with his latest film, The Shape of Water, he’s finally been able to craft an original film that is true to his talent, while also creating a beautiful homage to Jack Arnold’s original classic.
III. Michael Shannon
I love Michael Shannon. I have for years. In fact, this past week has found me talking about the prolific character actor in quite some detail. While I’ll spare you the details of the time that I met Michael Shannon (he was awesome), I will say that there is absolutely no other actor that can convey the intensity that Shannon brings to each role. The clever nickname – “Loose Cannon Shannon” fits him so well and his role in The Shape of Water looks to be yet another iconic Shannon performance the audiences and critics have grown to love over the years.
IV. Sally Hawkins
I also love Sally Hawkins. Aside from me probably making no secret of my crush on her in the coming months, Hawkins happens to be an extremely remarkable actress who hasn’t been in the acting business all too long. She made her proper theatrical debut in 2002 and she came to proper notoriety in 2008 when she starred in Happy-Go-Lucky, for which she was nominated and won several awards. She was also nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress in 2013’s Blue Jasmine. Hawkins is no stranger to monster movies as she starred in 2014’s Godzilla and will return in 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
In The Shape of Water, Hawkins is the star as she plays Elisa, a mute woman — trapped in a life of silence and isolation — whose life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (played by Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment.
It’s going to definitely be the highlight of the movie watching Sally Hawkins’ Elisa connect with the Creature (Doug Jones) and also see what is sure to be an award winning performance.
V. Doug Jones
Doug Jones, one of the finest of creature performers today, is playing the untitled Creature/Gill-Man in The Shape of Water. Of course, many will draw references to his Hellboy character Abe Sapien, but true fans of monster movies, cinema, and GDT will know that this is not the case. Doug Jones is playing a creature far more closer to the one designed by Milicent Patrick for the 1954 horror/sci-fi classic. Jones is excellent at conveying real, authentic emotion no matter how much of himself is buried under make-up. He’s very much in line with some of the cinema greats like Lon Chaney Jr. and his performance as the creature in The Shape of Water should be really amazing to watch, especially for those longing for the days of the classic Universal Monsters on screen.
Are you looking forward to “The Shape of Water”? Let us know in the comments below.
From master story teller, Guillermo del Toro, comes THE SHAPE OF WATER – an other-worldly fairy tale, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1963. In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is trapped in a life of silence and isolation. Elisa’s life is changed forever when she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment. Rounding out the cast are Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg and Doug Jones.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)