Whatever they're looking at, there's only one proper response: "Oh, crap."
"As you entered the lobby, there was an inscription: 'In the absence of light, darkness prevails.' There are things that go bump in the night, Agent Myers. Make no mistake about that. And we are the ones who bump back."
— Dr. Trevor Bruttenholm
Guillermo del Toro's films based on Mike Mignola's comicbook series, starring Ron Perlman as the big red guy, Doug Jones and David Hyde Pierce as Abe Sapiennote Jones physically plays Abe in both films, while Pierce provided his voice for the first one; he refused to be credited out of respect for Jones' performance, and decided not to return for the second film, so Jones does Abe's voice in that one, and Selma Blair as Liz Sherman. They take a lot of liberties with the source material (which Mignola himself was perfectly fine with), to the point where it's better to think of them as an Alternate Continuity rather than an adaptation.
In the final days of World War II, the Nazis and Grigori Rasputin open a portal to the Void, attempting to summon the Ogdru Jahad to destroy the world. Allied soldiers, with the help of occult expert Trevor Bruttenholm, destroy the portal, but not before something comes through: A baby demon. Bruttenholm adopts him and the soldiers of the unit name him "Hellboy."Sixty years later, Hellboy is one of the best agents in the US government's top-secret Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, alongside Abe Sapien (a fish-man with Psychic Powers) and Liz Sherman (a pyrokinetic who vacillates between wanting to be on the B.P.R.D. and wanting to be a normal human). They're joined by Naïve Newcomer FBI agent John Myers, who was chosen specifically by Professor Bruttenholm to provide the moral support for Hellboy to become a man.And Hellboy will need all the support he can get: Rasputin has been resurrected by his lover Ilsa Haupstein and his personal assassin Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. The villainous trio frees the hellhoundSammael, as the first step in a plan to force Hellboy to fulfill his destiny and destroy the world.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
It's been a few years since the last movie. Myers has been (literally) Reassigned to Antarctica. Hellboy and Liz are an Official Couple, but their relationship is going through a rough patch. Hellboy, chafing under the bureaucratic leadership of Tom Manning, decides to break the Masquerade and reveals himself to the public—but the public's reaction is far less pleasant than he expects. To rein Hellboy in, the B.P.R.D. upper brass sends Johann Krauss (a spirit medium who's been reduced to ectoplasm) to take leadership of the team.Meanwhile, Abe meets a nice elf girl, Princess Nuala of Bethmoora, and they hit off quite well. Unfortunately, her twin brother Prince Nuada has declared war on humanity. He plans to reawaken the Golden Army—invincible automatons that nearly drove humanity to extinction the first time they were used—and he kills just about everyone who stands between him and the crown that would allow him to control the Army.It falls to Hellboy and his pals to stop Nuada, but given the way humanity's been treating them lately, our heroes can't help but feel a little sympathy for the genocidal Jerk Ass. And as if this wasn't enough, Liz finds out she's pregnant, which... worries her.A third film is reportedly in the conceptual stage.
These films provide examples of:
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Adaptation Distillation: Hellboy is a rough condensation of the plots of Seed of Destruction, The Right Hand of Doom, and Box Full of Evil, with a sprinkle of Wake the Devil. Hellboy's character design was also slightly modified, as in the comics he has cloven hooves instead of feet. The producers also worried about having to change the Right Hand of Doom to a Left Hand of Doom before casting Perlman, who is ambidextrous.
Adaptation Expansion: Professor Bruttenholm's relationship with Hellboy (as father-son) gets a lot more focus here than in the comics.
Affably Evil: Rasputin allows Professor Bruttenholm a moment to prepare for his death and assures him that it will be quick. And it is. Kroenen generally preferred efficiency over sadism anyway, but still. Considering that the professor was terminally ill, it may even have counted as a Mercy Kill. Their little theology discussion beforehand, while decidedly antagonistic, was still very civilized.
And I Must Scream: Kroenen wasn't killed by being impaled in the gear pit. Hellboy had to throw in a giant gear to finish him off.
Art Imitates Art: A brief video clip of Hellboy copies the famous film footage of Bigfoot.
Ascended Extra: Bruttenholm and Kroenen get much larger roles here than in the original comics.
Asshole Victim: The little kids who tried to stone Liz to death when she was a child, triggering the self-defense explosion that killed them. True they were little kids... but they were little kids trying to stone another little kid to death. Little kids or not you really cannot feel bad for them AT ALL.
Asteroids Monster / Explosive Breeder: Sammael. It lays a lot of eggs, and every time it gets killed, two of those eggs hatch and immediately grow to adulthood. Nothing short of firebombing all the adults and all the eggs simultaneously can stop them.
Bad Moon Rising: After Rasputin forces Hellboy to use his giant right hand to unlock the Tunguska door by sucking out Liz's soul, the door sends some kind of energy ray to the moon, which turns into a portal to let the Ogdru Jahad enter the world.
Big Eater: Hellboy, if the massive plates of food brought into his room six times a day are any indication.
Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Grigori Rasputin as master mystic. Granted, even many of his contemporaries thought there was something weird about him. Also, Adolf Hitler as an accomplished mystic. Early in the movie, Bruttenholm briefs Myers on the Occult Wars which happened with the Nazis acquired mystical artifacts (such as the Spear of Longinus) and ended when Hitler finally died in 1958. Myers corrects him, saying Hitler died in 1945; Bruttenholm simply gives an amused "Did he now?"
Deadpan Snarker: Hellboy's dialogue is laced with some of the snarkiest deadpanning of any film in the 21st century thus far. Professor Bruttenholm gets a pretty good one in 1944, so apparently that's where he got it from.
Liz also has rather snarky moments, and given her depressing background, this makes sense.
Deal with the Devil: Inverted: Hellboy briefly submits to his true form in order to get the love of his life's soul back (long story short, Grigori Rasputin steals her soul, stating that he can only get her soul back to her if he opens the gate).
Description Cut: Tom Manning states on TV that the B.P.R.D. does not exist. There's then an immediate cut to an establishing shot of B.P.R.D. headquarters.
Dual Tonfas: The bladed version is Kroenen's weapon of choice.
Dull Surprise: Selma Blair's portrayal of Liz Sherman. Justified, as she's supposed to be depressed and heavily medicated due to her tragic past, and she gets much better in the second film, after she finally comes to terms with her emotions and powers.
Hellboy defeats a demon by grabbing a live subway rail. He's fine (because he's fireproof), but the demon is less fortunate.
When Hellboy is fighting swarms of Sammaels, Liz the pyrokinetic releases a fire blast that took all the Sammaels down while leaving Hellboy intact.
Extra Eyes: Sammael has three eyes, two on the right side of its head, and one slightly larger on the left.
Even Evil Has Standards: Kinda. After revealing his plan to the Professor as well as the knowledge that they would kill him afterwards, Rasputin assures him that his death will be quick and painless. Seconds later, Kroenen swiftly stabs him through the back of his neck, at the top of the spinal cord, killing him instantly.
Good Hurts Evil: When Hellboy regrows his horns and is briefly evil, the crucifix from his rosary leaves a burn mark on his hand.
Groin Attack: When the Professor is recalling the history of Rasputin he mentions that when Rasputin died the first time he was castrated as part of his death by Humiliation Conga.
Happily Adopted: He may have had rows with the Professor in the movie but its obvious Hellboy loved him like any son would.
Heart in the Wrong Place: Kroenen doesn't seem to have a working heart or blood in the film adaptation, but the clockwork device that keeps his body going ... somehow ... is in the upper left side of his chest.
Hellhound: Sammael. Though he looks more like a cross between a [[Film/Avatar Thanator]] and a Predalien than an actual dog.
High Voltage Death: Double Subverted when Hellboy is battling Sammael the first time. Hellboy grabs the third rail of a subway. He just gets a little jolted, but Sammael gets barbecued. Hellboy then lights a cigar off a flaming bit of Sammael stuck to his stone hand.
I Just Want to Be Normal: Liz. Hellboy too, to an extent. He sands his horns to fit in and generally likes to pal around with the other B.P.R.D. agents when he's not working.
I Know Your True Name: Invoked and played with, as Rasputin knows Hellboy's real name, Professor Bruttenholm most likely knows but refuses to say it, and the viewer is left wondering if Hellboy himself knows right up until his final confrotation with Rasputin. Turns out, Hellboy does know his demonic name: Anung Un Rama.note It means "And upon his brow is set a crown of fire."
One-Liner: "I'm fireproof. You're not." And "I'm gonna be sore in the morning..." Made all the better because this was the last line Ron Perlman recited while working on the film. The cast and crew gave him a standing ovation.
Out of the Frying Pan: After resisting Rasputin's temptation to summon an eldritch abomination to Earth, Hellboy kills Rasputin—which allows another abomination, hiding inside Ras'—to begin wreaking havoc.
Power Incontinence: Liz's pyrokinesis blew up an entire city block when she was eight years old. Later in life Rasputin uses that memory to have Liz destroy the mental institution she was living in while she was asleep. It's the biggest reason she's afraid of her power.
Removing The Earpiece: Done twice by HB in the first movie. The second time, it leads to several redshirts getting killed while he couldn't be reached.
Screw Destiny: Hellboy was born to bring about the Apocalypse. After Myers reminds Hellboy that he has a choice, Hellboy tells Rasputin what he thinks of his destiny by ripping off his own horns and stabbing Rasputin in the gut with them.
Self Harm: Kroenen severely mutilates himself and he survives it only thanks to some kind of black magic.
Welcomed To The Masquerade: The movie begins with begins with Agent Myers being brought in to the BPRD, a paranormal investigation unit. Downplayed in that his FBI skills don't do him any good against the various monsters and ancient evils they meet up with. He was only brought in to keep tabs on the title character.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Hellboy almost became this after Rasputin killed Liz in front of him and sent her soul into the Ogdru Jahad realm in order for him to force him to become the beast of the apocalypse and unlock the portal. The only reason he didn't is because Myers managed to get him to snap out of it by reminding him of what he once was.
Anti-Villain: Nuada, a blend of Type II and III. He's spent centuries, possibly millennia, watching the mythical creatures that once ruled the world fade into the background as humans expanded, and the royal family has been reduced to ruling from sewers. He wants to take the planet back from the humans in the name of the fey beings before their kind dies out completely.
Art Shift: The opening exposition is depicted as a massive war between carved puppets, illustrating how young Hellboy's imagination pictures the human/Fair Folk conflict his foster father describes. This allows the actual appearance of the various fey races to be dramatically revealed later in the movie.
Bittersweet Ending: The ending of the second movie. Nuala kills herself to stop her brother from stabbing Hellboy in the back. Regardless of whether you interpreted her sacrifice as heroic or pointless, it was still pretty bitter.
Broken Masquerade: A frustrated Hellboy deliberately sets himself up to get blasted out of a building...and lands right in front of camera crews from what appear to be every TV station in New York state. When a horrified Manning asks what he's done, Hellboy nonchantly replies "Guess we're out."
But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Liz gets hit with this hard, as apparently no one had any idea it could happen. Given that it's been several years since she and Hellboy became romantically involved, it apparently took a while for the genetics to match up right.
Chekhov's Gun: The legend of the Golden Army. It describes how whomever wears the crown has the power to command the Golden Army, if unchallenged. Near the end of the movie, when all seems hopeless for the heroes, Hellboy remembers the legend and challenges Nuada for the right to wear the crown, forcing the Army to temporarily halt while setting the stage for the final battle between them.
Color-Coded Characters: Like in the first film, Hellboy has a red light on his communicator, Abe has blue. Liz has a gold/yellow one, and Krauss has white.
Convenient Color Change: The Golden Army glows red once they are activated by Prince Nuada. When Johann takes control of one soldier, it glows blue. How else would you know it's him and he's good?
Costume Porn: The elves and the trolls in the Golden Army. Especially Nuada and Nuala.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Nuada vs. the guards and his first encounter with Hellboy. Justified in that Hellboy had been pretty hammered in the first fight, having been drinking heavily after Liz wanted to separate, and was barely able to walk down stairs without stumbling. The second fight is much more closely matched.
Exact Words: Only a "prince" may challenge Nuada for control of the Golden Army. When Hellboy challenges him, he snubs it off because he is not "royalty". Then his sister reminds him that Hellboy is the son of the King of Darkness, the "Fallen One" and is technically royalty, meaning that he must accept Hellboy's challenge at the climax of the film.
Hellboy promises not to Kill Nuada, as he knows it would kill his sister, who his friend Abe is in love with. However he didn't say anything about not kicking his ass, which he does with glee.
Fantastic Racism: Hellboy experiences hatred and prejudice. He also takes an immediate dislike towards Krauss in The Golden Army, which he claims is because Germans make him "nervous". Given how he first came to this dimension and Kroenen in the previous film, is there any wonder why? And Prince Nuada doesn't view humans in a favorable light because of their wanton destruction of the environment.
Fertile Blood: When the plant elemental is killed, its blood blankets the city and sprouts moss, grass, and flowers.
Flanderization: Tom Manning. In the first movie, while not a very good field leader, he was still a competent bureaucrat; he and Hellboy butted heads but ultimately gained a bit of respect for each other, and bonded over cigars. The second movie made him almost completely incompetent, and reduced him to bribing Hellboy with cigars to keep him in line. Maybe justified by the fact that, without the professor, there is no one who can truly keep Hellboy from doing something stupid.
Foreign Cuss Word: Kraus, after reprimanding him about radio silence during a covert operation, said in an undertone "schmutziger Affe", which is German for "dirty ape" (Stylistically more correct would be "dreckiger Affe", but compared to the butchering of German in other films, its more or less OK). And at the end of the film, when Hellyboy, Liz, Abe and Krauss decided to leave the B.P.R.D., Krauss told Manning to "suck my ectoplasmic schwanzstucker". The word "Schwanzstucker" doesn't exist in German, but it contains the German word "Schwanz", which is "tail" and a mildly obscene word for the penis. Could also double as Getting Crap Past the Radar. In the German dub the word "Schwanzstück" is used, which sounds REALLY awkward, but stylistically correct. This was probably a del Toro Shout-Out to Young Frankenstein.
Hostage for MacGuffin: In The Golden Army. Abe Sapien, you Genre Blind fool. The fact that said hostage and the Big Bad had a Synchronization makes an especially dumb move. He can't actually hurt the hostage without hurting himself. And if he were willing to do so, he could do it from the other side of the planet by hurting himself directly. However, the heroes didn't know this, and had no way of knowing that Nuada was probably bluffing.
Humans Are Bastards: Pretty much every normal human outside the B.P.R.D. treats Hellboy and his group like unstable monsters. This is probably why they end up quitting. Which is strange, given that a lot of people were quite enthusiastic about Hellboy in the first. A possible explanation is while they enjoyed the urban legends about Hellboy, even making an in-universe comic-book about him, being confronted by the truth that he really does exist was simply too much for people to handle. And Nuada's Freudian Excuse revolves around his (not entirely untrue) belief that humans are this.
Nature Spirit / Physical God: The plant elemental. And The Golden Army, due their Healing Factor. Downplayed with Johann Krauss. He is invulnerable whenever he assumes his intangible form, but he can't stay like this perpetually, needing to return to his suit.
Our Elves Are Better: Elves rule a secret kingdom of The Fair Folk and all appear albino with somewhat cracked-looking skin. Twins are linked psychically and if one dies the other dies too. They also turn into stone upon dying for some reason.
Pet the Dog: In several instances Prince Nuada was kind to members of species other than the humans he despises, including a dog. He also seems genuinely upset when his Dragon is killed. Justified by the fact that his big problem is with humans overrunning the planet and pushing out other species. Hellboy loves cats.
Reassigned to Antarctica: Literally. Poor, poor John Myers. The cynical way to look at this is that Hellboy removed any impediment to his and Liz's relationship; a more idealistic one is that he was trying to keep Myers safe. Of course, given the Lovecraftian overtones of this franchise, being sent to Antarctica might nothelp...
Hellboy: He said he liked the cold!
Red Oni, Blue Oni: In The Golden Army notably, Hellboy's brashness and emotional volatility contrasts with Abe's apprehensive thoughtfulness.
True Blue Femininity: Princess Nuala. Her main color is blue (with gold accents and a gold dress later).
Turn in Your Badge: HB and pals hand in their belts and (most of) their guns to announce their resignation from the B.P.R.D.
Twin Telepathy: Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala. Exaggerated, since this is constantly active, leading Nuada right to Nuala.
Ungrateful Bastard: In the second movie, most bystanders immediately go accuse the B.P.R.D. as freaks after just having been saved from a plant elemental! Then again, Hellboy was jumping around and scaling buildings to fight that thing while juggling an infant, and not always very carefully, either. Infant Immortality or not, can you say, "shaken baby syndrome?"
The Unmasqued World: In the second movie, Hellboy reveals himself, which causes Tom Manning no end of grief.
Villainous Friendship: Prince Nuada is genuinely fond of Mr. Wink. In fact, when he goes to confront Hellboy about the latter's death, all he says is, "You'll pay for what you did to my friend back there."
Worf Had The Flu: Hellboy loses his first fight with Nuada due in no small part to the fact that he's completely hammered, and even then, he holds his own until he's distracted. During the rematch, sober Hellboy holds his own until he can grab Nuada.
Alternate Continuity: Mignola said in one of his interviews that he felt that the way he did Hellboy was just one interpretation, and he didn't want the movie to be a rehash of that, so he let del Toro interpret the franchise his own way for the movies.
Always Save the Girl: Averted in the first film (Hellboy saves the world instead of Liz, then saves Liz anyway through sheer badassery); justified with Liz in the second (given how well Hellboy's been able to Screw Destiny so far, Liz's decision to save him—even though he's prophesied to end the world—makes sense) but Abe does it in standard fashion. Hellboy immediately calls him on it, and Abe promptly retorts that he would do the same for Liz. They seem on pretty good terms when they're done.
Author Appeal: The first film has a strong influence from Mike Mignola, with Nazis, eldritch abominations and a very dark, Gothic tone. The second film is more fantastical, owing to director Guillermo Del Toro's input, especially in terms of the Troll Market's inhabitants.
Badass Longcoat: Hellboy in the standard-issue B.P.R.D. trenchcoats. Kroenen in his black leather Nazi trenchcoat. Also Rasputin in his intricately embroidered coat.
Berserk Button: Lets just say that Hellboy catching you trying to eat a cat is not going to end well.
BFG: The Big Baby in The Golden Army. The Samaritan in the first movie. Its bullets are large enough that they hardly even qualify as 'bullets' anymore, being more akin to small artillery shells.
Bloodless Carnage: During the fight scenes, Guillermo Del Toro uses everything but blood: sweat, Sammael spittle, slime, gumballs, and coins from a pay-phone are just a few examples. The only bloodshed that occurs in either of the two movies is symbolic.
Bond One-Liner: Hellboy is fond of these. "I'm fireproof... you're not."
Covert Group with Mundane Front: B.P.R.D.'s headquarters are disguised as a waste disposal facility; the transports for HB and Abe are disguised as garbage trucks.
Crazy Cat Demon-man: Hellboy has dozens of cats, it's one of the things he and Liz fight about in the second movie.
Crossover Cosmology: Much like the original comics. Devils, Lovecraftian horrors, fairy-tale creatures, and God is implied to exist as well.
Cute Kitten: Hellboy loves kittens. There's even a scene in the first movie where he goes out of his way to save a box of kittens from falling to their deaths during a fight with Sammael. Reprised in the second movie where he's supposed to be spying on a troll, but disobeys orders and breaks cover to prevent her from eating a kitten.
Dark Is Not Evil: Hellboy himself, though the villains try to convince him that he should be evil. A few other things like the Angel of Death also count.
Happily Adopted: Hellboy's fond memories of his surrogate father and his supportive childhood is a fundamental reason of why he keeps trying his best to the right thing, hard as it is.
Hand Cannon: Hellboy's not a very good shot, but The Samaritan uses really big bullets. The Big Baby is a giant pepperbox pistol with six barrels. Or maybe a pepperbox grenade launcher, firing what look like 40mm rifle grenades in oversized shotgun shells.
Kindhearted Cat Lover: At least in the movies. This can be a more supernatural version of a character keeping a dog, since cats are more mysterious and occult. Hellboy also goes well out of his way to save some kittens during his fight Sammael.
Lightning Bruiser: By human standards Hellboy is definitely this, but since his actual fights tend to be against various supernatural creatures, he can be anything from a Fragile Speedster (compared to the Behemoth,) or a Mighty Glacier (compared to Nuada).
Mobile Fishbowl: Abe sometimes wears water goggles and water tanks when he is out of his tank. Based on the comics this is more to keep him from drying out than to help him breathe; he has both lungs and gills.
Mr. Fanservice: Perlman mentions that all the female TAs were "smitten" with Hellboy, and suspects that many were crestfallen upon seeing him out of makeup and costume for the first time.
Muggles: Every supernatural entity's opinion of ordinary humans, including B.P.R.D. agents.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, the Ogdru Jahad, Anung Un Rama (the last a subversion...although it being a subversion depends entirely on whose side you're on).
Oh Crap: HB's had so many of these moments that this is literally a Catch Phrase. However, his best one is an unspoken one, at the end of The Golden Army where Liz reveals she's carrying twins, his face is PRICELESS.
Rule of Cool: Many of the supernatural and magical elements are poorly explained, if an explanation is offered at all, and actually analyzing the plots reveals holes. However, both films are still very cool to watch.
The scene of Bruttenholm befriending "baby Hellboy" is very reminiscent of the Baby Ruth scene from The Goonies — including the yummy-sounds.
There are shoutouts to Mike Mignola scattered about - in Liz's flashback sequence, one of the buildings is called "Mignola Plaza", and one of the headstones in the Russian cemetery is inscribed with Mike Mignola's name in Russian.
The "I'm not a baby, I'm a tumour" scene in the second film is possibly a shout out to Total Recall (1990).
Smoking Is Cool: Hellboy is constantly smoking cigars; the second film even included a disclaimer that the smoking was for artistic effect and not an endorsement of smoking. It may double as a real-life Actor Allusion as Ron Perlman is an avid cigar afficionado.
Snowy Screen of Death: When Liz has her pyrokinesis fit in the psychiatric institution, the CCTV cameras go full of static as the fire wave destroys them. And again in the auction hall in TGA, along with the lights blacking out.
The Southpaw: Hellboy is left-handed, most likely due to his big, cumbersome Right Hand of Doom. Quite convenient, really, since Ron Perlman is left-handed, and functionally ambidextrous.
Touch Telepathy: Abe Sapien can learn about objects or people by touching them. For example, he can touch a weapon left behind at a crime scene and see exactly how the crime happened—or he can touch a superior's hand and realize the man is dying of cancer. On a more positive note, when he touched Liz' belly, he detected, that she is pregnant with her S.O. Hellboy's child.
Urban Legend: Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., until he goes public.
What Measure Is a Non-Super?: While there are significant Badass Normal characters in the first movie, by the sequel the entire non-superpowered roster of Hellboy's unit consist of one commander whom everyone treats like dirt and a Redshirt Army who die fast, often, and completely unmourned by any of the superpowered members. Hellboy was more shocked over the death of the rampaging tree-monster than over any of his human allies.