Where Nightmare Alley ranks against Guillermo Del Toro’s best movies


Writer-director Guillermo del Toro has made a name for himself in large part directing supernatural-themed films that are full of incredible creature designs and atmospheric production design. His latest film, Alley of nightmares, sees the filmmaker tackle the genre of black thriller for the first time in his career.

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Like many del Toro films, Alley of nightmares received critical acclaim but struggled to find a mainstream audience. The film immediately stands at the top of its filmography, comparing itself favorably to films such as Crimson woodpecker and Pacific Rim, but comes close to surpassing its absolute best work as Pan’s Labyrinth.


Blade II

Blade talks to vampire Reinhardt in Blade II.

One of del Toro’s first forays into big budget Hollywood movies, Blade II Once again follows the titular hero as he attempts to protect humanity, this time against a new threat of mutant vampires known as the Reapers.

Although the film is packed with some of the best action sequences of the set Blade trilogy and brings back beloved characters from the first entry, the story is pretty generic and the film mostly favors style over substance. It’s a pretty entertaining and fun movie, but not one of del Toro’s best works and not as heavy or insightful as Alley of nightmares.

Pacific Rim

Set in a future where humanity is involved in a war with the huge interdimensional Kaiju, Pacific Rim is a sci-fi action film about humanity’s attempts to build and pilot giant robot bots called Jaegers to defeat the Kaiju.

While Pacific Rim features a ludicrous premise and focuses more on the visual spectacle than the character or story, it manages to deliver plenty of impressive fight scenes between the Jaegers and Kaiju. It’s not as deep or punchy as Alley of nightmares, but it makes for a fun and unique entry into his filmography.

Crimson woodpecker

Mia Wasikowski in Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak (2015)

Located in the late 1800s, Crimson woodpecker is a gothic romance film about an author who moves into a secluded mansion with her new husband and sister, only to find that the haunted mansion is home to many dark secrets.

Del Toro’s signature style lends itself perfectly to the gothic romantic genre, infusing the film with elegant horror sequences and visually stunning moments. For some, the film leans too far in the direction of romance instead of embracing more elements of horror, but the film effectively tells the story it sets out to tell. Crimson woodpecker is more in line with other del Toro films but does not execute its tragic storyline or thoughtful message as effectively as Alley of nightmares.


Del Toro’s first feature film Cronos is a horror drama about a man who discovers a mysterious device that grants its owner eternal life quickly discovers that the device also has disastrous effects on the owner, transforming him into a vampire-like creature.

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Although this is del Toro’s first film, Cronos is indicative of many of the filmmaker’s character traits, including his dark fairytale tone, thought-provoking storyline, and religious themes. It might not be as polished or well designed as Alley of nightmares, but it showed from the start what audiences could expect from a del Toro film.



Adaptation of fan favorite Dark Horse Comic character for the first time on the big screen, Hellboy is a superhero film about a demon captured by Allied forces during WWII and trained to become a superhero who works with a team of metahumans to keep Earth safe.

By making the first entry in the superhero franchise, unlike Blade II, del Toro was given the freedom to set his own tone and visual style. Frequent collaborator Ron Perlman, in one of his best films, is notable as the main character, capturing his sympathetic yet confrontational personality. The story is not as heavy or poignant as Alley of nightmares, but due to the striking imagery and religious ties, the character and story naturally suit del Toro’s cinematic sensibility.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army


After the success of the first film, del Toro returned to Hellboy II: The Golden Army sees Hellboy and his team trying to stop Prince Nuada from locating the Mythical Golden Army and using it to try to rule the world.

The film retains the best elements of the first installment, such as the likable characters and sleek visuals, while developing the action sequences and creature design. It is a lower rate than Alley of nightmares but the film is still a fan favorite and many were disappointed when del Toro couldn’t complete the Hellboy trilogy.

The shape of water

The shape of water from Guillermo del Toro

Located in the 1960s, The shape of water is a romantic fantasy drama film about a guard at a government high security facility who meets and forms an unlikely romantic relationship with a government-owned amphibian-like humanoid creature.

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The film is uniquely del Toro, finding beauty and romance in the dark and using a visually striking fairy tale to provide relevant and impactful social commentary. Featuring exceptional acting, gorgeous cinematography, and a moving score, the film is an empathetic and subversive exploration of being an outsider that earned del Toro the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. The shape of water is tied with Alley of nightmares, but some division elements such as the musical number give the latter a slight advantage.

Alley of nightmares

Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley

Adaptation of a novel by William Lindsay Gresham, Alley of nightmares is a noir thriller about an ambitious con artist who learns to fake clairvoyance in order to defraud others, but finds himself lost when he gets involved with a well-connected psychologist.

The film is much more grounded than other del Toro films, but still showcases his iconic style and tone. Incredible performances by Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett, clever storyline and gripping themes help make Alley of nightmares one of the best films of the year and one of del Toro’s personal bests.

The backbone of the devil

The ghost reaches the backbone of the devil.

Located at the end of the Spanish Civil War, The backbone of the devil is a gothic horror film about a young boy who moves into a haunted orphanage he discovers filled with dark secrets.

In his best films, del Toro is able to generate sympathy for characters others consider to be monsters and The backbone of the devil is one of the best examples. The film is touching, atmospheric, and truly creepy, which is why some consider it one of the best horror films of the 2000s. Del Toro’s unique combination of horror and empathy makes the film stand out. as fresh and original, elevating it slightly above Alley of nightmares.

Pan’s Labyrinth

The end of Pan's labyrinth

Set just after the Spanish Civil War, the dark fantasy film Pan’s Labyrinth follows a young girl as she escapes into a fanatic world of fauns and fairies in order to avoid dealing with the Francoist stepfather.

The film manages to deliver a powerful commentary on a pivotal moment in history through the imaginative perspective of a frightened and innocent child. Although other administrators may have done Alley of nightmares, only del Toro could have made a film as gripping, magical and dark as his masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth.

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