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Attention Guillermo Del Toro completists

deltoro Part of our mission here at Scarecrow Video is to try to have anything we can possibly find and afford that somebody might be excited to watch. We enjoy and carry mainstream Hollywood movies like anyone else, but we also take our movie fandom to ridiculous levels. That's why we still carry VHS and laser disc obscurities and imports. You need to have the right machines to play them, but if that's the only way to get them that's what we'll have to do. So we end up having some unusual movies, and even as a long time employee I will sometimes stumble across something in our collection that surprises me. Case in point: Silencio Mortal, a Mexican horror anthology that appeared one day in our Guillermo Del Toro director's section. It's on VHS, it has no English subtitles, but it represents the TV work of a 24 year old Del Toro, five years before he even made Cronos. Many know him for his work in recent years as the director of Pan's Labyrinth or the Hellboy series, but Del Toro has been in the trenches trying to make movies for more than 2o years now. I remember reading about him in Fangoria Magazine in the early '90s, and it talked about his background in Mexican television. Well, here's some of that background. Del Toro wrote and directed the first story on the tape, Caminos de Ayer (which translates to something like Ways of Yesterday). It comes from a show called Hora Marcada (The Appointed Time, I guess), which he directed five episodes for starting in 1986. He also did special makeup effects for this episode and three others. Although it's shot on video and stars soap opera actors, this was considered to have very high production values for Mexican TV at the time. Even in such a humble production it's easy to see Del Toro's visual eye in the carefully lit and composed shots. It has a bit of an El Mariachi home-made feel at times but then you get these painterly shots like the very first one, which shows a road from the point of view of a camera sitting on the ground next to a cow skull. The story is about a leather jacket sporting drifter who shows up at a hotel and starts seeing apparitions. As a non-Spanish speaker I was relieved to find that most of the storytelling is visual, but I have to admit I lost track of what was going on by the time some probably-expository dialogue started to pop up in the end. Still, I was able to notice some classic Del Toro tropes including a round-spectacled librarian type with a collection of antiques and artifacts. Sorry, no eyeball creature or Spanish Civil War. If the comments on the Internet Movie Database can be trusted, Hora Marcada is a highly regarded show that many Mexican fans of horror and sci-fi grew up loving and harbor nostalgia for. It was a training ground not just for Del Toro but also for Alfonso Cuaron (who wrote six episodes, five also written by him) and the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Academy Award nominee for Children of Men, The New World, Sleepy Hollow and A Little Princess). That reminds me, Cuaron and Lubezki also collaborated on an episode of a Showtime film noir anthology series called Fallen Angels. We have that (plus episodes directed by Steven Soderbergh and Peter Bogdanovich) on VHS or PAL Code 2 DVD. And those are in English! If you're a completist like some of us are our directors section offers the nourishment you need. Next time you stop by take some time to explore. You might be surprised what you come across.

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