Charlie Hunnam
Credit: Kerry Hayes

Fans packed the Anaheim Convention Center Arena Saturday afternoon for one of WonderCon’s banner events — a sneak peek of Pacific Rim and The Conjuring, with directors Guillermo del Toro and James Wan.

Del Toro’s highly anticipated sci-fi epic (set for a July 12 release) stars Charlie Hunnman, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. Del Toro has been teasing convention audiences with action-packed footage since Comic-Con 2012 — as if we needed much convincing to check out what happens when human-controlled robots battle monsters.

But WonderCon wanted to get our hearts pounding before treating us to an adrenaline rush, and they did just that with two exclusive — and terrifying — clips from Wan’s The Conjuring, which dares to ask: what happens if those old house creaks aren’t just old house creaks? Jerks.

If you’ve seen the teaser trailer for The Conjuring, you didn’t miss much with the first clip, featuring Lili Taylor’s character playing hide and seek with her daughter…and whoever is clapping in that closet. The second clip shows her two daughters figuring out what — or who — is in their room. Wan lets the camera linger on the little girl looking under the bed so long that he doesn’t even have to show anything scary — the anticipation is terrifying enough.

Wan said he was intrigued by the project because it was based on a true story. “I don’t have anything else to prove in this genre,” he said of his decision to take on The Conjuring. To lend further credibility to the always dubious sounding “true story” claim, Wan called out Lorraine Warren and Andrea Perron — the women who experienced the real events — to sit with him and answer questions. “I was astounded that there were so many elements of our story captured in the film,” said Perron. Wan spoke a little bit about making the film feel authentic, and also addressed the surprising R-rating. They’d been aiming for PG-13, and made sure the film wasn’t gory or explicit, but just merely suggestive. When the MPAA came back with an R-rating, they asked why. Apparently, it was “just too scary.”

But the main event was Pacific Rim. Del Toro took his seat on stage to thunderous applause before he introduced a trailer that was made specifically for WonderCony. They’re only planning on showing it once more in Venice, and it will never be released to the public — which is too bad. It was so awesome, they showed it twice.

The trailer was heavy with explosions, destruction, Jaegers, Kaiju, and Charlie Day. “If you want to stop them, you have to understand them!” implores Day’s hipster scientist. So, to defeat the Kaiju monsters that “came from deep beneath the sea” they develop robots that must be manned by two people — and powered by two memories. They are, as Day’s character says, “2500 tons of awesome.” The images that were shown make it look like a classic monster film, with all the modern special effects that you might expect playing out in a dark, rainy cityscape. We even saw one of the robots smashing a giant alien over the head with an oil tanker.

Here are our top five Pacific Rim takeaways:

1. If the images and the sets look big, it’s because they were

The epic images fit the epic scale of the production. They found the largest soundstage in the world, and it still wasn’t big enough.We built several blocks of Hong Kong…to destroy. And then we destroyed it,” Del Toro said. As for the look of the film, Del Toro said “we were very inspired by the visuals of World War II…the places look rusty, and used, and oxidized.”

2. Guillermo del Toro loves It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

When asked why he cast Day in the film, Del Toro explained: “I’m a huge fan of the series and I saw a monologue that he did in one of the episodes two seasons ago where he’s coming down from the cellar from killing a rat. And he had this monologue about rats…and I thought, ‘This guy is a really good actor and a great comedian’.” So, he cast Day as his punk rock scientist.

3. The grueling shoot broke everyone except…

Rinko Kikuchi — who also has a pretty wonderful looking martial arts scene to look forward to in the film.

4. How do those Jaegers work?

“Every single robot is controlled by two pilots,” said Del Toro. “One that controls the right hemisphere and one that controls the left hemisphere…controlling a machine that large would fry the nervous system of a single pilot. So they use two…they are linked by a neuro bridge that fuses them with the robot.”

5. Animation versus motion capture

Del Toro wanted to avoid motion capture and instead animate some of the sequences. He said, “I think motion capture is great for a certain size. But these things are basically a 25-story-high building walking around. And the weight — and I know something about weight myself — the weight makes things move differently, as my wife will tell you.” Animation, he explained, lets you really feel the compression of the hydraulics and, in turn, the size.

For more WonderCon follow @ldbahr and @EWSandraG

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Pacific Rim
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  • 131 minutes