I'm talking about this guy:

The Pale Man

Easily the creepiest part of an already very visually creepy movie.

What I'm wondering is if there's anything like this guy in pre-existing mythology, or if he sprung entirely from Guillermo del Toro's nightmares.

  • 14
    I've often thought that Del Toro's greatest gift is an ability to tap into the Jungian "universal subconscious" and give form to everyone's nightmares.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 17:17
  • @Joe I can't argue with that Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 17:22
  • 2
    He always reminded me a little bit of Y’golonac, whom del Toro is likely familiar with.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 21:15
  • 3
    Ugh, I clicked on this already thinking of how creepy he is, and then that picture made me jump out of my seat. Thanks so much for that.
    – Bobo
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 21:29
  • 2
    Aww, he's adorable - PEEKABOO!!
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 2:06

5 Answers 5


From an Article titled "In his new book, 'Cabinet of Curiosities,' director Guillermo del Toro reveals the inspiration behind his monstrous creations":

For what’s considered his signature creation, the child-devouring albino demon Pale Man, del Toro started with an idea of an old man with sagging skin.

“There was also this thing that I had as a kid where manta rays freaked me out — because if you flop a manta ray on its belly, you can see a little mouth and two nostril-like openings but the eyes on another side, and I find them really creepy,” says del Toro.

“The idea in ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ was it was going to represent the church, [so] I thought it would be powerful to use the hands with stigmata and then you put eyes on it. But although I had the idea and knew how it was going to operate, when we saw it on the set with the makeup on actor Doug Jones, everybody froze and we went, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing.’ ”

He was also heavily inspired by Francisco Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Son" painting.

  • Yeah, I thought about the Goya painting, I guess I was just hoping for something from Fae myths. This is probably the best answer though Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 22:29

Though the reference may not be intentional, the pale man is nearly identical to the tenome of Japanese mythology.

Wikimedia Commons

The tenome is a demonic ghost of a man who was blinded and murdered. Instead of having eyes on his face he has empty sockets (or none at all depending on the depiction) and instead has eyes on the palm of his hands. He sees by waving his hands in front of him as he walks. He is a vengeful spirit that chased down those that get too close and consumes his victims bones.

  • 1
    Very good! Could you add a picture/quote/both to make this a great answer?
    – Adamant
    Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 7:16

This is pretty gross but...

A bout of weight loss on Del Toro's part inspired the saggy-skinned Pale Man


It bears more than a passing resemblance to this guy.


  • That's what I thought
    – user35971
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 11:37

It is based off a Japanese mythological demon called Tenome

  • 2
    Hi, and welcome to SFF.SE! I see that this is your first post, but could you provide a bit more detail on your answer?
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 20:54
  • 4
    What evidence do you have supporting this? Are the two creatures similar, did someone involved in making the movie say this was their inspiration?
    – Obsidia
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 20:55
  • 2
    Add more details, and preferably a reference -- no need for school literature referencing or anything, just do "[Text you want displayed](link you want the text to link to)" or just mention the name if you found it offline. I'll give you an upvote!
    – user40790
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 21:09

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