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This is not what I was expecting. The subtitles at first were a bit annoying but bearable once the stellar plotline started going. There was a switch between English and Foreign language, which was pretty neat. Impressive performances by all the actors including the little girl. A must for horror fans!
"My name is Jesus Gris. My name is Jesus Gris."
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 03/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For some reason I developed an early low opinion of Mexican horror films and have since avoided them. Fortunately I didn't realize Cronos was Mexican ans so got to see this truly unusual film directed by Guilliermo del Toro. While it will never win a place on the heights there's a surprising amount of inventiveness and imaginative film work in something that probably has one-tenth the budget of the average Hollywood failure.
Imagine, if you will that a European alchemist fled Europe to Mexico in the 16th Century. Gaining appointment as the Governor's clockmaker he set about making a machine that would prolong his life. He succeeds and lives until a building collapses on him in modern times. His estate is broken up and sold and the real story begins when an antique dealer, Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi), acquires a statue of an angel. In it he finds a golden scarab-like machine. One with horrific powers that Jesus inadvertently activates.
Seeking the scarab for his own purposes is Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook) and his last remaining relative Angel (Ron Perlman). They will stop at nothing, but a repeatedly foiled by the scarab's power over Jesus. Another key player is Aurora Gris (Tamara Shanath) who has no lines but seems to preside over the life and death drama that plays out before her.
There are a few grim and violent moments, but, for the most part, Cronos gains its momentum from its atmospherics. Imagine a screenplay written by Poe and directed by Fellini with echoes of Don't Look Now and you will have a sense of the film's feeling. Colors are dark, sets are detailed, and the minimal special effects are telling. Especially the insides and operation of the clockwork scarab.
The film is as much about the value of life as it is a horror or suspense story. Clumsy at some times and subtle at others, the message gets through with an ending which leaves just enough in question to haunt the viewer. The approach is novel, a very different twist on the vampire genre, and I found myself liking it more the longer I watched it. Definitely worth viewing. "
A sad horror film that focuses on character not on slashers
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Guillermo Del Toro's modern Grimm's Fairy Tale "Cronos" focuses as much on character as it does horror. In many respects, it's a throw back to the horror comic books or movies he watched as a kid updated. Antiques dealer Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) gets more than he bargains for when he covers a ornate gold "beetle" at the base of a decorative angel. He and his devoted granddaughter and wife discover the promise of immortality but also the horrible price one must pay when given a "gift" such as this.
Rich industrialist Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook) has his brutish nephew Angel (Ron Perlman)searching for the device himself. Only Dieter knows about the history of the device, what it can do and the consquences of using it. When Jesus resists Dieter's offer for the device, it also puts his family in peril.
A rich, allegorical horror film that recalls the classic films of the 30's and 40's with its focus on character and the consquences of their actions at the expense of endless blood and gore, "Cronos" is a thoughtful, sad movie that demonstrated the considerable talents of Del Toro ("The Devil's Backbone", "Blade II", "Hellboy"). It's got its moments of gross out gore but Del Toro focuses his story on the delicate relationship between Jesus, his wife and granddaughter.
The film is presented with the original Spanish voiceover presented in English. After that, the film is a mix of Spanish and English as Dieter and Angel speak both sparingly throughout the film while Jesus and his family speak nothing but English. It would probably help to have on the subtitles if you don't speak English during the film as it switches back and forth pretty consistently.
The presentation and look of the DVD is very good capturing the nice textures and colors of the original film although it can't hold a candle to the high definition transfer of "The Devil's Backbone" that recently came out on DVD. Extras include an interview with Del Toro with clips from his very first short films made when he was a teenager up to and including his first 16mm production. There's also an interview with behind-the-scenes footage of Federico Luppi (a thoughtful and talented actor)from the production. There's also an Easter Egg included as well. Look for the Lion's Gate logo and click on it for a nice little surprise. We get a photo gallery and commentaries from both Del Toro and the film's producer. Del Toro's commentary is in English while the producer's commentary is in Spanish.
A haunting, atmospheric debut from Del Toro that deserves to be seen. It's not exactly a horror film (and why Del Toro is referred to as a horror film director is beyond me), it's more of a fantasy/suspense story with horror themes."
A New Bite On An Old Mythology
Tressa L. Breen | Gardner, MA USA | 12/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A new vision of the vampire myth involving an insect trapped in a device that grants immortality (with a price of course), an innocent grandfather, his all but silent granddaughter, a human monster and his victimized nephew.
An elderly antiques shop owner, Jesus Gris, and his granddaughter, Aurora, discover an unusually device in a four hundred year old Archangel statue. Gris inadvertently triggers the device which begins a change in him that not only slowly makes him more youthful in look and energy but infects him with an addict's consuming fixation for blood. Unfortunately for Gris, he is not the only one with knowledge of the device's existence and power, and he becomes the target of the dying businessman De La Guardia's desire for immortality at any cost and his violent nephew Angel.
Loved this film! Loved it! I've always had a thing for vampires and I really enjoyed this new view of the vampire mythology. This isn't just a new story of vampirism though, it is also a tale of family. The love, devotion, and acceptance of family is beautifully shown through the grandfather Jesus and granddaughter Aurora, as is the dark side of family, with it's violence, abuse and victimization, as shown through the obsessed De La Guardia and his nephew Angel.
Ron Perlman is absolutely superb as Angel. He takes what could have been the average brute/thug character and gives him humor, depth, and the ability to evoke sympathy and, almost, forgiveness, from the audience. If you want to introduce a friend to Ron Perlman's work, consider doing so with this performance.
Frederico Luppi and the late Claudio Brooks are also entrancing in their performances as Jesus Gris and De La Guardia, respectively.
Favorite line (narration describing the death of the cronos device creator): "His skin was the color of marble in moonlight."
The DVD extras and commentary are wonderfully enjoyable in and of themselves (how they shot the interior of the cronos device and what happened to it later...eeeewwww, that the thirteen cronos devices used in the film were stolen on the last day of the shoot, that Ron Perlman did accidentally connect, fist to face, at one point with Frederico Luppi, etc). Guillermo Del Toro's commentaries are as spellbinding as his films."
Interesting and intriguing take on the vampire genre
Troy M. Ros | Northfield, MN | 10/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before Guillermo del Toro came to Hollywood to make big budget thrillers such as Mimic and Blade II, he was in Mexico making movies that are truly unique and filled with tension. His directorial debut, Cronos, is a hugely original movie and take on the vampire theme. Guillermo also wrote the screenplay. The movie opens up with a narrator telling the story of an alchemist who made a metallic, beetle like device (the Cronos) that when placed against skin, has a scorpion like stinger that stabs the person and injects a tiny amount of bloody fluid. The injections cause the alchemist to live for centuries and only dies when he is in line at a bank in Vera Cruz during an earthquake and is crushed by falling debris.Some time later, an antique dealer, Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi), discovers the Cronos device in the base of an old statue he has acquired. After wondering what the device might be for, he inadvertently sets it off and is pricked by it's stinger. The whole process of watching this happen is fascinating, and you are never quite sure if there is some sort of living insect inside the enclosure, thanks to Guillermo's David Lynch like photography and editing of the scene. Jesus soon discovers that he has more energy and feels more youthful than he has in ages. But unbeknownst to him, there is an evil and rich old man, Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook) who has been searching for years for the device. He has tracked it down to Jesus' shop and sends his simple minded nephew, Angel de la Guardia (brilliantly portrayed by Ron Perlman), to get the statue that has stored in it, the Cronos device. When the statue turns up empty, Dieter instructs Angel to get the device at any cost. In the meantime, Jesus has become addicted to using the device. His young granddaughter has noticed him using it and decides for his own good to hide it from him. After spending time with her he realizes that maybe the sacrifices of the device, such as his wife not feeling as youthful as him, or his greedy and manic need to posses and have control of the device, are not worth the benefits.The story is not fast paced by any means, but the development of the characters is superb. There are also slow moving scenes with huge amounts of tension, in particular a scene where Jesus is at a party where someone had cut himself and cleaned up in the bathroom. Jesus finds himself drawn to the blood that had dripped on the floor and after slowly considering it and getting his face closer to it, he has his cheek against the floor and extends his tongue and licks up the drops!I have seen the video a couple times, but it is on DVD in region 2 PAL format only. The video is available in both subtitled and dubbed versions. I highly recalled the subtitles, because much of the dialogue is already in English. Ron Perlmans' character for example does not speak almost any Spanish. Perhaps now that Guillrmo del Toro is more well known in the US, we will get a region 1 NTSC release on dvd."
Truly excellent retelling of the vampire legend. Buy It!
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 08/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`Cronos', written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, his first film, is a really delightful find, similar to many other surprising little movies such as `La Femme Nikita', `The 13th Warrior', `Mad Max' and going back a ways, `The Hustler'.
One very important warning is that this is NOT the relatively poor sci-fi B movie of a few decades back, with a spelling, I believe, of `Kronos' and a plot vaguely suggesting world domination by computers.
The most amazing thing about this movie is that it gives AT LEAST two new twists to the old vampire story, if you interpret the vampire legend in its broadest terms. The first twist is the notion that vampirism can be induced by the inoculation of blood from an essentially immortal insect, with the assistance of a clockwork mechanism created by a very talented alchemist in Spain at the time of the Inquisition. The second major twist is the notion that a person, once infected with vampirism and benefiting from it's gift of long life, will want to be free of this `gift' and die for good.
Many of the other twists in this plot are somewhat predictable, except that they are implemented in a truly creative way. The story is realized in such a subtle manner that the level of graphic horror is so low, one wonders at how it deserved its R rating. On the other hand, I will give credit to the review board for appreciating the subtlety of the dread in many of the movie's situations.
One of the most effective cards played by this story is the `little girl in peril' card, so vividly done up in the movie `Aliens'. To the credit of Del Toro and company, he does not go as far as James Cameron does, but just far enough to have the gambit do its thing.
One of the very best things about this DVD is its subtitling in English and its director's commentary in English. I will give you the warning now that you should watch the whole movie through first with the original soundtrack before rewatching it with Del Toro's talkover. I was especially surprised to find such quality subtitling in a low budget movie. The English subtitles seem to be done not only for the benefit of someone who does not understand Spanish, but also for a hearing impaired viewer, as the subtitles include notes on background sounds and indications on when the lines are being sung rather than just being spoken.
This low budget movie realization is so good, one is not surprised that Del Toro does such a good job on big budget efforts such as `Hellboy' and `Blade 2'. The writing is so good, one wonders why, however, he takes on projects based on other people's material. The Spanish-speaking actors are unknown to me, but they do an excellent job, as does Ron Perlman whose dialogue, thankfully, is all in English. I say that not because I have any doubt that Perlman can't come across in Spanish, but as a thoroughly American actor, he is much more believable in English.
The other extras are pretty predictable. Note that while the credits give two commentary tracks, the track spoken by the producer is all in Spanish, which did me little good.
If you have a taste for good horror, this movie is not to be missed! "