Federico Luppi as Jesús Gris
Ron Perlman as Angel de la Guardia
Claudio Brook as Dieter de la Guardia
Margarita Isabel as Mercedes Gris
Tamara Shanath as Aurora Gris
Daniel Giménez Cacho as Tito
Mario Iván Martínez as Alchemist
Juan Carlos Colombo as Funeral Director
Farnesio de Bernal as Manuelito
Luis Rodríguez as Buyer
Javier Álvarez as Bleeding Man
The Making Of
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
English and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 92 Minutes
When an antiques dealer named Jesús Gris opens up an old statue, he finds a strange, gold, bug-like device inside. Little does he know that it was created hundreds of years earlier by an alchemist in order to prolong his life. When Jesus accidentally activates the device, it injects him with some sort of stinger. Jesus soon finds himself feeling younger and rejuvenated. Unfortunately, he begins craving injections from the device.
When a thug named Angel de la Guardia enters his store, Jesus learns that the mans uncle is also looking for the device in order to become immortal. He also learns the horrible secret behind the device its turning him into a sort of vampire.
Cronos is rated R for horror, violence, and language.
Im not a big fan of horror movies, but I was interested in seeing Cronos simply because it was one of director Guillermo del Toros early films. I had the pleasure of visiting the set of Hellboy, del Toros upcoming film, in Prague in the summer of 2003. Believe me when I say the guy is incredibly friendly and a movie geek like you or I. Knowing he was the man behind two horror comics (Blade 2 as well as Hellboy), I was curious to learn more about his film background.
I found Cronos to be a bit of a mixed bag. It had moments of brilliance mixed in with moments of mediocrity. First of all, its a great looking film. The settings are appropriately creepy, the camera angles and motions are very slick, and the overall look and feel is nicely done. Its also a very interesting twist on the classic vampire tale. Our hero, Jesus, becomes a vampire in a very roundabout way. The problems he goes through, of lusting after blood, dying and being embalmed, and generally not knowing whats going on, are presented in a fresh and unique way. Theres even a disturbing scene where Jesus granddaughter puts him in her toy chest (along with some dolls) as a substitute for a coffin. Its one of the most memorable scenes Ive ever seen in a horror film.
That being said, the film does have its problems. It is rather slowly paced at times. The languages switch back and forth between English and Spanish, yet there are English subtitles on the screen the whole time. I wondered if I hit the caption button on the DVD remote a couple of times. The story also frequently leaves you scratching your head. It took me a long time to figure out what the heck was going on. The interaction between Ron Perlmans character and his uncle were also a bit bizarre and far fetched. However, the oddest thing about the film is the idea that theres an ancient bug inside the Cronos device turning people into vampires. Its a bit much to swallow, though del Toro insists that the insect is one part of real vampire lore written by a priest in the past.
In the end, Cronos is an interesting film for fans of horror and fans of Guillermo del Toro, but its not a film for mainstream audiences. I was quite surprised to see that it won nine Mexican Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and Best Picture at the Cannes Film Festival. While it is a cool bit of cinema history from a fun director, I wasnt terribly impressed by Cronos either. It did, however, show how del Toro had the promise hes living up to today. (And as a side note, the image on the cover isnt even in the film.)
This tenth anniversary DVD has a fair number of extras on it considering its an older film that was shot in Mexico. Here are the highlights:
Directors Commentary Writer/Director Guillermo del Toro provides a great commentary here. Its one of those rare commentaries that ends up giving you a greater appreciation for the film. Del Toro goes into great detail explaining how he came up with the idea, the history of alchemy, vampires, and more. He talks about his relationship with Ron Perlman, among other things. Overall its worth listening to.
Producers Commentary This commentary is entirely in Spanish. Since my high school Spanish isnt up to speed, I bypassed this DVD extra.
The Making Of This is a five minute long making of video featuring the star, Federico Luppi. He talks about the cast, crew, director, sets, and more. Theres a lot of behind the scenes footage here as well. Its brief, but a nice look at the creation of Cronos.
Directors Perspective This is a fifteen minute video featuring writer / director Guillermo del Toro. He talks about how he got into movies, his ideas for Cronos, etc. (He actually repeats a lot of what he says in the directors commentary.) If you dont want to listen to the commentary, this is a nice backup. He also happens to talk a little about Hellboy if youre a fan of that comic. For some strange reason, though, they subtitled all of his speech despite the fact that hes speaking English and hes perfectly understandable. I was a little baffled by it.
The Bottom Line:
Cronos is a movie more for horror fans and fans of Guillermo del Toro than for mainstream audiences. Fans of Hellboy may also want to view it to get a taste of whats to come from del Toro.