Cabinet of Curiosities brings back a beloved horror framing device

Cabinet of Curiosities brings back a beloved horror framing device

Netflix’s new anthology series Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities gives us eight tales of terror from eight different voices. The story of an elixir that will completely change you, two new adaptations of lesser-known HP Lovecraft stories, and new original works guillermo deltoro she herself. Although each director lends his or her own distinctive voice to their respective episodes, that ties it all together. Showrunner’s love for the classicsAccompanying the whole show with notes of gothic and cosmic horror.

However, the biggest homage del Toro pays to the old anthology horror is at the beginning of each story, as he walks toward the camera, in a suit and glasses, and gives a short prologue to each story. Standing next to that is an intricate and fitting prop: the Cabinet of Curiosities. Del Toro and his cabinet are the hosts of the show, presenting each piece with an artwork related to the story and a beautiful and intricate miniature of each episode’s director. It makes perfect sense, given that he’s the showrunner, and has written several episodes, but let’s look back at the history of anthology show horror hosts to see which path del Toro is on, and how he’s going to continue his career. Blows the mark.

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related: 10 Underrated Horror Anthologies (And Where To Watch Them)

Horror hosts have been around since the beginning of the genre

Image via Netflix

Dreadful hosts can come in many forms, but all serve a similar purpose: to frame the feature presentation. whether it’s in the case of an icon Elvira, Mistress of Darkness, or its predecessor, a vampire, The ones that sit on a gothic chaise lounge and present a scholarly horror film, or in the case of del Toro and others, give us a prologue and epilogue to every episode of an anthology. They are recurring characters unrelated to the story, breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience. He is a storyteller, a collector of horror stories.

While Elvira, Vampira, and others like them certainly deserve their own article, we’ll focus primarily on anthology television. These hosts can be fictional characters, such as the Midnight Society, a group of children sitting around a campfire telling stories Are You Afraid of the Darkor the Crypt Keeper, the wise cracking cadaver who opens his cavalcade of creeps tales from the crypt, or freddy kruger in himself Freddy’s NightmaresAs often as these hosts can be real people, and regularly the brains behind the show.

Guillermo del Toro takes after Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling

Image via CBS

It’s not just limited to horror. The birth of network television was filled with stars who hosted their own “Story of the Week”-like shows. Loretta Young, Barbara StanwyckAnd Richard Boone, All film actors who found a home on the small screen hosted, effectively, their own series of dramas recorded for television. The most eminent of these hosts were acclaimed directors Alfred Hitchcock, with his 1955–1962 anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, This is where we see the true beginning of del Toro’s hosting style, as Hitchcock is known for his films, he is also a personality, making himself a character. This is unusual for a director, especially of his time, but his presence, voice and demeanor are extremely well known. the same can be said for rod serling, producer and host of the Twilight Zone. While isolated episodes may live in infamy for decades to comeIt was the man in the suit, always there, always watching, to guide us through the story, that held the series together.

This practice had faded for a while, with recent anthologies showing only episodes after the brief opening. charlie brooker, Like despite already being an established comedy personality from his show charlie brooker screenwipe And you are watchingdoes not host black Mirror, For example. it made a very brief reappearance when Jordan Peele Hosted the 2019–2020 reboot the Twilight Zone, opening and closing each episode as Serling did, but at the end it comes back again Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

While del Toro is still a man in a suit, similar to Hitchcock, Serling and Peele, and producer known to be a lover of classic horror, To the point where his house is also a museum, he makes the framing device his own. Sure, he has an iconic look and voice, dressed fast like all of these presenters, but what sets him apart is the large wooden box with multiple compartments.

HIT Trustee attached to Cabinet of Curiosities GDT

Image via Netflix

This is a beautifully crafted prop that opens in a surprising number of ways. In German, it’s known as the Wunderkammer, the Cabinet of Wonders, and in the first episode del Toro establishes what it is and essentially his role in the series. It’s his cabinet of curiosities, a storage container full of oddities, and behind each oddity is a story he wants to tell. He places the object on the table: a key, a television remote, an old sketchbook, and with it is a small carving of the person directing the episode. This part is particularly novel, as he holds the figure down and says the name out loud, instead of it being the subtitle of the opening credits, with each carving containing little Easter eggs from the episode we’re about to watch. It shows us that the series is under one name, with eight different voices behind it.

The horror host is an underutilized device in anthology storytelling that should definitely make a comeback. It’s an inviting presence, reminiscent of the horror beginnings some of the greatest storytellers of all time brought us into their worlds. They prepare us for what we’re about to see, they prepare us to suspend our disbelief because we’re kind of in on the joke. We are not watching a person’s life unfold or unfold before our eyes, but a story that could have been, or will be, before. As the host tells us, it’s almost a comforting kind of self-reflexivity, don’t worry, it’s just a show. It is not a fear that will always be there, or a fear that you need to be afraid of in your life. You’re arriving with a host, and they’ll take you on a little trip through the Twilight Zone, or into the Cabinet of Curiosities.

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