Went to Hellboy and Back

That. Totally. Ruled.

I was dragging ass today because I stayed up super-late last night doing what? I took my roomate, and my pass for two, downtown to the Paramount Theatre, stood in line for 3 hours, and watched the never-before-shown-to-anyone world-premier of “Hellboy” a whole three weeks before its April 2nd release. And It. Was. Good.

My friend Bart informed me on friday that Austin Books, a comic shop down the street from my house, was handing out passes to the super-sneak preview presentation of “Hellboy” (site), the new movie from director Guillermo Del Toro (“Blade II”, “Devil’s Backbone”). I’ve never read the Mike Mignola-created comic, but I understand that it’s high-quality stuff, and with what I’ve gathered about the comic, I’ve concluded that Del Toro did an excellent job on the adaptation. The role of Hellboy is played by none other than Ron Perlman. Naturally.

So, back to the showing. I and several of my friends went: my roomate and I got there a little later than our friends, so our place in line was much further back. Ah well. Since we didn’t have V.I.P. passes, wristbands, or anything cool like that, we couldn’t sit in the floor seats; it was the balcony for us. But, nevertheless, our seats still commanded an excellent view of the stage and screen. The South-By-South-West movie festival is currently underway, but this screening was privately held, kind of a rush job. But the stars were still out: director Del Toro was there, as was Mike Mignola, Ron Perlman (yes, he really is that huge), and a guest presence in the audience by Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles (yes, he really is that huge, har). Earlier in the evening Kevin Smith was in the theatre screening his new movie Jersey Girl, so he hung around for a little bit and left. I didn’t see him, but one of my buddies did. Suppose that’s good enough. Heh.

Del Toro introduced the movie with his tough-to-understand accent and light-hearted demeanor. When the show was done, and the audience was satisfied with its thunder of applause, Del Toro took to the stage again, this time joined by Mignola and Perlman, for a half-hour audience Q&A session. Lots of questions good and poor, sure, but a friend of mine managed to get a good question in, which was cool.

Some highlights:

  • Del Toro said, “Previously, a studio would buy an option to adapt a comic book to film. The comic audience is happy about the news until the studio picks some poorly-fit director and they change too much of the comic storyline and so forth. Finally, we’re seeing studios allowing geek movies to be made for geeks by geeks.” The roar of applause was testament that we totally agreed.
  • Mignola was not only advised to, but required to get his hands dirty in the production of this film; since he’s the creator, his input was essential.
  • Del Toro essentially directed “Blade II” to fund the filming of “Hellboy,” his 5-year dream.
  • “Hellboy” originally had a budget request of $90-million, which Revolution Pictures had agreed to greenlight, but they later talked Del Toro down to $60-M when they discovered his choice of Perlman for the starring role; Del Toro wouldn’t sell him out in exchange for more money.
  • The studio was considering doing a fully-CG Hellboy character, with Perlman doing voice acting, and was almost sold on the idea, but finally relented to Del Toro’s wishes to have someone actually acting the part instead of just reading lines. Seems studios don’t see much logic when preferring CG to real actors.
  • Perlman spent around four hours each day to put on the prosthetics and makeup before each day’s shoot. For days where he was shooting shirtless scenes, it took six.
  • Del Toro is starting another project to shoot a movie that’ll be a kind of bookend to “Devil’s Backbone”, which promises to be good.
  • Del Toro joked that the “Passion of Christ” fanatics would view this movie as a pyriah and deem it as something worthy of protest without ever going to see it. I mean, c’mon, it’s a red devil-looking demon hell guy who fights, smokes, and cusses! What more do you need a good, Bible-thumpin’ picket line for? It’s Jesus versus Hellboy! (never mind that Hellboy is a good guy with pragmatic morals and a good heart)
  • When asked about the subtleties of the love relationship between Hellboy and character Elizabeth, Del Toro went on to discuss the very character of this particular relationship, how it was kind of a “Beauty and the Beast” relationship. His talking was interrupted when the audience built-up a slow, dawning laughter, after which Del Toro stopped, looked at the audience, then exchanged glances with Perlman. They shrugged, smiled, and he continued on his discussion.

There is so much more to the evening that I really wish I could talk about to a further extent, but that would be just a little too, um, MEAN, wouldn’t it? :) Yes, I believe it would, yes. Aaah, and for once, I’M privy to something; I get first dibs (damn, I love this town). But seriously, people, when “Hellboy” comes out to wide release next month, do yourself a favor and go see it. A whole lot of action, a whole lot of monsters, a whole lot of Lovecraft, a whole lot of wit, humor, and comedy, and a whole lot of in-jokes. Del Toro and cast did a wonderful job.

And, no, Lobster Johnson isn’t in it. But they might shoot a lunch scene between him and Hellboy for the DVD. Who knows?

Published by Shawn

He's just this guy, you know?