Cronos

There is a lot of horror out there, and I mean a lot. No scratch that. There is a lot of cinema out there. The sheer number of films that get made a year is staggering. Especially if you consider every film that gets released, not just the stuff that makes it to theatres. We just don’t have enough time in a day to watch everything.

A lot of my friends like to say that I seem like the type of person who’s seen or heard of everything; especially in regards to horror. Let me tell you that it couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a tonne of stuff out there that I haven’t seen. Every time I slip open a genre magazine, like Rue Morgue or VideoScope I am seeing advertisements or reviews of stuff I’ve never even heard of let alone watched.

One of the reasons I started this site was so that I would have an opportunity to see horror that I normally wouldn’t be able to. It’s equal parts research and dumb luck that leads me to a lot of the stuff I end up watching.

I recently was visiting a friend of mine; he’s always had an impressive and varied taste in movies. Really his collection has something for everyone. Mine is pretty genre specific and as time goes on it only gets more so. While looking for something to watch my finger passed over the Movie Cronos, it looked interesting, I checked the back. “Whoa this movie was directed by Guillermo Del Toro?” I kept reading “Whoa this movie has Ron Perlman in it” I read further “10th anniversary special edition?” How did this movie completely blow past me on all fronts? Apparently this film, by a director I love, and containing an actor I enjoy, was released or rather re-released without my knowledge. Now, let’s be clear about something.

Guillermo Del Toro is an excellent director, and I have yet to find a movie he did that I dislike but like most people, I had no idea who he was until things like Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth. The latter being a particular favourite of mine. Also, since another Del Toro horror flick is set to be released this month, it seems oddly appropriate.

Cronos was released in 1993 and is a Spanish language film. It stars Frederico Luppi and Ron Perlman, funnily enough he speaks English through most of it.. It also has Tamara Shanath, to round out the immediate cast.

The film starts off explaining that hundreds of years ago an alchemist created the Cronos device, it would enable the user to live forever provided they keep using it. The Alchemist himself dies about four hundred years later, through a massive chest wound when his house collapsed in on him. After that the device goes missing and nobody is able to find it.

We then meet a kindly old antiques dealer named Jesús Gris (Luppi) and his granddaughter Aurora (Shanath). They discover inside of a statue the Cronos device and while trying to figure it out, Gris winds it up and accidentally sets it off, having no idea what it will do to him.

It’s never really explained how the device works, although it eventually is revealed that inside of it there is some kind of insect that apparently can survive just fine inside of it. The insect is fused with clockwork of the device and the solution it creates is what grants the user eternal life.

Nothing comes without a price and Gris soon realizes that he is changing, not only is he getting younger and more energetic he is also starting to crave blood.

Also, unknown to him is that there is another man who is looking for the device for his own use; Dieter de la Guardia played rather well by the late Claudio Brook. He is sick and dying and wants to use the device to cheat death. He sends his Nephew Angel de la Guardia (Perlman) all over the place looking for it. It’s obvious they hate eachother, and their interactions are some of the highlights of the movie.

The device seems to have an addictive quality to it and Gris can’t help himself but keep using it, despite the fears of his granddaughter Aurora. Throughout off of this she is basically what is grounding him to humanity; she seems to love him unconditionally and will do anything to help him, so long as he doesn’t leave her.

Because he seems to be becoming addicted to using it he also is unwilling to hand it over when De La Gaurdia finds out he has it, they have a series of interactions but eventually out of desperation Gris is murdered for the device. This prompts his resurrection and at this point he is so far gone from this kind old grandfather he was in the first half of the movie that it’s really remarkable.

His skin rots and falls off to reveal a pale undead look underneath; he has an aversion to sunlight and needs blood to…wait a minute. Don’t all of these things make him a vampire? Well yup, it does. Cronos is a well hidden vampire movie, to be sure but it’s pretty subtle and he doesn’t seem to have supernatural powers aside from not being able to die without destroying his heart.

The pacing of the film is kinda slow, and I could have done with a little bit more on the horror side, but if you liked Pan’s Labyrinth I really can’t imagine not liking this, because they are pretty similar in tone.

I have a lot more for you guys in the near future so stay tuned and thanks for reading!

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One Response to “Cronos”

  1. OttawaJanus Says:

    I also enjoyed this particular movie AND I enjoyed this review very much.

    P.S. Your friend sounds cool.

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