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Famous Horror Collections: Guillermo del Toro’s Bleak House

By Gina Freitag

It’s always interesting to see what horror fans choose to add to their personal collection of horror movies and memorabilia. Curation is a key part of the collecting obsession, and the reasons behind what our collections contain are largely connected to our personal experience with the materials, and how we engage with them. Everything we spend our hard-earned money on, whether those items are displayed for our own viewing pleasure or to pay tribute to works we appreciate, is intended to articulate not only our individual horror tastes and knowledge, but those elements that inform our imaginations and our identities.

This of course extends beyond physical copies of horror films, to artworks and props and all manner of things. Some of these types of collections are unfathomably expansive and incredibly impressive. Imagine owning so many pieces and markers of horror history that you need a whole house — or two — in which to display them. This is precisely what acclaimed filmmaker and horror aficionado Guillermo del Toro has chosen to do. His aptly named “Bleak House” is home to an impressive array of horror memorabilia. If you were lucky enough to catch his traveling installation at the AGO in late 2017, “At Home with Monsters,” you would have seen approximately 10% of his grand collection: over 500 extraordinary artifacts featuring scale models of horror figures, masks, props, costumes, comics, notebooks, illustrations, artwork, and film clips from his own body of work and other renowned horror and fantasy works.

As discussed in the press preview of the exhibit (moderated by our own Andrea Subissati), Del Toro impresses that the collection is really only meaningful as a whole, to be considered “a compression chamber of imagination,” and that an important aspect of pop culture is to engage with the material, not simply to just consume it: “I think that the way you process pop culture, the way you make it your own and you rephrase it, is what makes it intelligent.”

So: how do you engage with horror media? What does your collection say about you, your imagination, your worldview, and how you perceive connections in society? This is just one of the topics we’ll touch on in our upcoming lecture “Terror Trophies” on February 13, 2019.

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