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An interesting, original and engaging retelling of a classic story!
The_Void12 January 2005
Guillermo Del Toro's stylish and original take on the vampire legend is one of the most strangely overlooked and underrated films of the 1990's. It's films like this that make me want to watch films - films that are fresh, unpredictable and so rich in symbolism that it has leaves lots of room for discussion. Del Toro was little more than an amateur director at the time this made, but in spite of that he's more than given the professionals a run for their money. Every scene is adeptly filmed, and the way that Del Toro makes contrasts between locations and the two central families is a pleasure to observe. The way that the film switches language from English to Spanish and back again is indicative of the fact that this is a rich tapestry of contradictions and one that makes intelligent comments on many subjects, from obvious ones such as addiction, to more concealed ones, such as a commentary on family; stemming from the way that the roles of child and parent become reversed when our hero becomes afflicted with the vampire-like curse.

For the story, Del Toro has taken the classic vampire theme and mixed it with essences of mechanics and the human lust of being able to live forever. The story follows Jesús Gris, an antique dealer that lives with his granddaughter Aurora and wife Mercedes. One day, our hero happens upon a mechanical scarab that latches itself onto his palm, causing him to bleed. Jesús slowly gets addicted to the mystical scarab, but there's someone else that wants it and will stop at nothing to get it. The mythology of the scarab is told in a great opening sequence that sets the viewer up for an intriguing and original horror story. The film retains the intrigue that it sets up in it's intro for the duration, and Del Toro ensures that his audience is always left guessing and wanting to see what comes next. The film works due to interesting characters that the audience is able to feel for, and is constantly interesting by the way that Del Toro handles the contrasts that the story presents.

On the whole, this is a fabulous horror story that takes an existing legend and makes it it's own. This is exactly the sort of film that cinema needs more of; and it's not one that film fans will want to miss. Highly recommended viewing.
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Fresh, original horror film
Eviljomr21 December 1999
I can't think of many 90's films that will be remembered as classics of the horror genre, this film is an exception.

When you think of Mexican horror, you no doubt think of the El Santo Vs. the Aztec Mummy type films made in the 60s, don't get me wrong, I like them too. In interviews, director Guillermo Del Toro has said that his influences come more from American and British horror (such as the classic Universal and Hammer horror films) than from Mexico's horror tradition. Still, the film does have a distinctly Mexican sensibility, especially with it's abundance of Catholic imagery.

First time director Del Toro, cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (who would go on to do great work for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, among oth ers), and production designer Tolita Figuero create a very unique, interesting look for the film.

All of the actors are great, especially veteran Argentinian actor Federico Luppi, who plays the main character Jesus Gris, and Luis Bunuel's favorite Mexican actor Claudio Brook, who plays Dieter De La Guardia. What really makes the film for me is it's quirky sense of humor and odd characterizations, I found scenes toward the middle of the film to be hilarious. The effective, subtle, score by Javier Alvarez also adds to the mood of the film.

The film also manages to be a very different kind of vampire story than usual, It makes me think a little bit of the "Wurdulak" segment of the great Mario Bava's film Black Sabbath. Vampire films of late have become very tiresome, it's nice to see someone take a different approach.

I think Guillermo Del Toro is a talent to watch for.
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Interesting and imaginative
raymond-156 August 2000
Some of the most imaginative films originate in Mexico. This one is no exception. When Jesus Gris, an old antique dealer opens the base of an ancient statue, a golden object in the shape of a large beetle drops out. This mechanically activated object can clutch a human arm and inject a magical fluid which can prolong life. The early scenes, when the camera moves about the treasures in the antique shop, set the atmosphere and draw us into the story. Each piece seems to hold a special secret. When the mechanical beetle suddenly grabs at the old man's forearm, we can feel the excruciating pain as he screams out and we see the pointed legs piercing his skin. Then follows the injection by the scorpion-like tail. Terror reigns until he dislodges the device. (What a relief!). Now wait for the miracle to happen! Excellent make-up on the main character as this horror story unfolds makes it almost believable at times. The sincerity of the acting between the old man and little granddaughter who plays about the shop makes for a really warm and loving relationship. (Where do they find such wonderful child actors?). Evil is portrayed by the cruel Dieter de la Guardia and his henchmen who set out to steal this ancient invention of the alchemists. Much of the excitement of the film is provided by a chase through upper rooms and rooftops (real edge of the seat viewing!). One of the most unforgettable scenes is the close-up view of the whirring golden cogwheels inside the device. They make a cruelly fascinating and threatening sound as they wind up to do their mysterious work. Movie-goers who have a horror of hypodermic needles should perhaps give the film a miss but you brave ones will enjoy the age-old theme of searching for the secret to eternal life.
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A Film That Harbours The Essence Of Horror
benjamin_lappin27 June 2007
Severely underrated on this website, Cronos is an engaging tale that captivates the viewer for the entirety of its duration. Guillermo Del Toro's first ever film is a thoughtful, heart-wrenching story which above all manages to be fresh, intriguing and unique while managing to captivate the feel of horror films in the same mould as The Shining, whereby it is a film about family first, and a horror film second.

Cronos is most definitely not associated with the slasher end of the horror market and nor is it anywhere near the filthy attack on the sense provided by goreography. What Cronos manages to achieve is an attack on the mind and the soul, the essence of what a horror film must succeed in doing if it wishes to leave a lasting impression. Given this I can, to an extent, see where the mediocre rating has derived from, it's not a blood fest it doesn't provide a scare a second and nor does it have gratuitous scenes of eyes being gauged out by rusty pick axes, but as every true horror fan knows is these are merely sideshow attractions to the superior horror films like The Shining, like The Fog, and Cronos if not completely at the top, is very close indeed.

There are three things which notably stand out about this film and make it undoubtedly worth watching. The most subtle is the commentary on US-Mexico relations that Guillermo Del Toro has littered throughout his film. It provides an interesting portrayal into how he, and undoubtedly many Mexicans, feel about their encounters with the US, that they are always trying to be dominated and they must stand up on their own, to strive to succeed. The most obvious is that of the highly notable Christian references and intentional name play. Our protagonist, the antique dealer, is named Jesus for simple reincarnate issues, but there a great deal of "my God", "my Lord" and more comments of that ilk in the film, there is undoubtedly a side plot on the directors behalf of pointing out the good that still emanates from our protagonist. Jesus' granddaughter and wife are named Aurora and Mercedes respectively, and by knowing the meanings of their names which are "the dawn or first light" and "mercy" provides the films finale with a sense of completion. Lastly of note is the acting on the part of Federico Lupi and Tamara Shanath, who provide the necessary gravitas even in motion if not through vocals to convey the deep emotional tie between grandfather and granddaughter which when all else is removed is the main driving force of this story, and the one that will have you coming back for more. It's innocence is soul-wrenching, yet Aurora's ability to see what is happening with unclouded eyes, provides the cornerstone for the emotional drama to take hold.

One critic in 'The Daily Telegraph' claimed this to be as "scary as hell", and to be honest he is wrong. This film isn't scary in the 'popping out from behind the bushes with a meat cleaver' manner, this film is an attack of that which makes us, and indeed Jesus, human. It is a cerebral assault which plucks at your heart strings and confuses the soul, and for it is severely likable and very watchable while occasionally disconcerning. Cronos is human drama at its most wonderful, emotional and chilling and more importantly a wonderful debut by a director who will build in stature and promise greater things, but this is a debut with bite to it, and once it grabs hold of you, it's very difficult to get it off.
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Sympathy for a vampire
twltzone24 August 1999
Warning: Spoilers
This is a unique film. This is not a gore-fest type of flick, but instead, a compassionate story about an elderly antique dealer named Jesus Gris who discovers an object called "The Cronos" which causes him to crave blood. While still in Jesus Gris's possession, "The Cronos" is actively pursued by Angel de la Guardia (a big "Herman Munster" of man) played convincingly by Ron Perlman.

Angel de la Guardia is the nephew of another deteriorating elderly man "Dieter" who wishes to have "The Cronos" because it will give him eternal life as a vampire. Can Jose Gris love for his grand daughter overwhelm his craving for blood? Find out for yourself!!!

What I liked best about this film is the compassionate story line, the dark humor of the mortician, and the effective use of subtitles. -Bottom Line: Very unique and Nicely Done!!!
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Gruesome, Violent, Weird and Bizarre
Claudio Carvalho9 May 2015
In 1536, in Veracruz, Mexico, during the Inquisition, an alchemist builds a mysterious and sophisticated device named Cronos to provide eternal life to the owner. In the present days, the antiques dealer Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) finds Cronos hidden inside an ancient statue while cleaning it with his granddaughter Aurora (Tamara Shanath). He accidentally triggers the device and soon his wife Mercedes (Margarita Isabel) and he note that he has a younger appearance.

Out of the blue, the stranger Angel de la Guardia (Ron Perlman) visits Gris's shop and buys the old statue. On the next day, Gris finds his shop trashed and Angel's card on the floor. He pays a visit to Angel that introduces him to the eccentric millionaire De la Guardia (Claudio Brook) that explains the healing power and the eternal life given by Cronos. Angel is sent by De la Guardia to hunt down Gris to get Cronos no matter the costs.

"Cronos" is a horror movie by Guillermo del Toro with a gruesome, violent, weird and bizarre story. The lead character becomes a vampire after accidentally triggering an ancient device. The obsession of a dying man for the Cronos leaves a path of violence trying to hunt down the owner of the device. The great expectations for a movie by Guillermo del Toro and released by Criterion is a little disappointing, despite the originality, performances and cinematography. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Cronos"
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junkmanjumble13 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I could not believe that this film was directed by the same man who made "The Devil's Backbone". It is shot like a daytime TV series, ineptly scripted, has virtually no suspense and suffers even further by slow pacing and lame dialogue.

On the plus side, I will give the movie credit for an original meshing of the two old myths of the fountain of youth (or in this case, the golden mechanical insect of youth) and vampirism. The second springs from the first in a clever reversal (usually vampirism leads to immortality, not the other way around).

But a somewhat neat twist can't cover up its flaws. The wild changes in tone are meant to be interesting and maybe even 'innovative', but when the film is meant to be lightly humorous, it achieves merely 'quirky'; when it tries to be scary, it only goes so far as 'eerie'. Ron Perlman is not worthy of all the raves (his performance is just plain wooden, and rarely funny), and the rest of the acting simply gets the job done. The most fatal flaw in this movie (from which most of its problems stem) is a lack of authenticity, in the characters, the plotting, and the overall emotional heft of the film. Characters do things only because by doing them the plot will advance from point A to point B, and when the seams show this badly, it's hard to become emotionally invested in the characters and their situations.

Cronos does still manage to be interesting, though, both as a bizarre mistake and a strange stepping-stone in the history of a now-accomplished director. But if you want good Mexican comedy or horror , look elsewhere (Y Tu Mama Tambien and Del Toro's own Devil's Backbone are good examples).

p.s. to tommyross88: if you're angry with another reviewer, maybe you should channel that into writing your own review and joining in on the conversation, instead of just making a fool of yourself. That seems to work fine for everyone else here.
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Slow but interesting reinvention of the vampire legend
bob the moo25 January 2002
When antiques dealer Jesús finds the legendary Cronos device within a statue he accidentally uses it. It feeds on his life force in exchange for eternal life. However wealthy Dieter and his nephew Angel also want the device and are willing to do anything to get it.

This is certainly a different vision of the vampire story, it dispels with a lot of the gore, the castles, Igor etc, but keeps the sunlight, the through the heart death etc. The story moves very slowly and is focused on Jesús and the devices' effect on him. His accidental transformation causes concern within his granddaughter and he finds that eternity has a price. The scenes between Jesús and Aurora are touching and make a nice change from the blood letting scenes.

The action is never really forthcoming and it is a little stilted in a way. Pearlman's character is a good addition to the story, but it does move so slowly that it may be a disappointment to those expecting a horror film. Luppi is good as Jesús, haunted by a gift he never wanted, Tamara is also strong as his granddaughter.

Overall it's an interesting retelling of a famous story. The direction is faultless although the story occasionally feels aimless and drifting.
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Nope. No Gold Star For Cronos
Dalbert Pringle7 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
You know, what I found to be the most disturbing and repulsive aspect of Cronos' modern-day fantasy story wasn't its moments of intentional horror, at all - No - What I found to be the most distressing and repugnant here was the emotionally devoid child, Aurora, and her willing and unquestioning involvement with her dead grandfather and his ghastly transformation into a blood-lusting vampire.

I mean, Aurora even went so far as to actually empty out her huge toy-box as a makeshift coffin for good, old grand-dad to retreat to and be safe during the daylight hours.

And the fact that Aurora's vampire grandfather used his own grand-daughter as his accomplice (and set her up as a target to all sorts of deadly danger) really left a very unfavourable impression on me about Cronos' story as a whole. It convinced me that this film's story (in its desperate attempt to be original) was made in the poorest taste imaginable.

This very minor and ineffective horror film also lost itself some significant points for the miscasting of Ron Perlman as the "Angel" character. As far as I'm concerned, this self-adoring, Neanderthal, jug-head was completely incapable of playing the nasty villain with any believable conviction, whatsoever.
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Best Horror Movie of the 1990s.
Infofreak2 July 2001
'Cronos' is a rarity: an original, intelligent, suprising, and genuinely creepy horror movie! A wonderful unpredictable script, inventive direction from Guillermo del Toro (an impressive debut!) and uniformly strong acting from all concerned, make this essential viewing for not only horror buffs, but lovers of fantastic cinema of all types.

'Cronos' is a treasure! I cannot recommend this movie highly enough!
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Genuinely Original.
ResidentHazard1 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers

During Bravo's "Top 100 Scariest Moments" (should've been "Movies" instead) countdown, I happened to catch the sequence about this particular film. It looked pretty damn good, so I set myself out to see it. It's directed by the man best known now for "Hellboy" and "Blade." Rather than being action-packed, violent, and bloody, it's actually simply a dark and unusual horror film. And, one of the more refreshingly original plots I've seen in some time.

The film centers around an old man who owns an antique shop in Mexico who stumbles upon a small, gold, mechanical object. The object was created 400 years prior by an alchemist seeking immortality--and as such, the device grants that most sought-after of gifts. By violently piercing the flesh of whoever activates it and delivering immense pain. Well, there is someone else--a very rich and very dying man who has sought the device for a large portion of his life. His nephew is played by human gorilla, Ron "Hellboy" Perlman--and he is simply the old man's caretaker and go-to guy. Well, as it turns out, the antique store owner, named Jesus, finds out in the most unpleasant of ways that the Cronos device has a set of rules meant for its use--and only the rich old dying bastard knows them--and he will only trade the rules for the device.

Here's the breakdown:

The Good:

--The more I see Ron Perlman in movies, the more I like him--he's a very versatile actor. Especially if you take into account that he's made films in France, Mexico, and America, has spoken French, English, and some Spanish; and went from this to "City of Lost Children" to "Enemy At the Gates" (as a Russian soldier) to "Hellboy." His role is plenty entertaining here.

--The acting is quite good.

--The story is really unique, fresh, and original.

--The special effects are very nice--not a drop of CG anywhere in the film. The mechanical workings of the Cronos device and the insect inside are really cool.

--Good music.

--Good atmosphere and some excellent bizarre and creepy scenes that really hold attention.

Didn't Hurt It, Didn't Help:

--Unfortunately, the film never states what those rules are for successful use of the Cronos device--only a little bit is hinted at or discovered and it felt like there were actually a lot of guidelines to the device.

--Somewhat slower pace--but it's used as a tension builder.

--Pretty good sets.

The Bad:

--Not enough scares--but then, this is a slower movie made to build up a creepy story. Not a scare-a-minute-shocker.

The Ugly:

--Somewhat clumsy opening scene that has some unanswered questions about it. I was a little confused about exactly how the old man came to know or believe that Jesus had the device.

--It also would've been nice to have a little more background story on the Cronos gadget, it's maker, and exactly how the sickly old man that Perlman watches over came to know about it as well as what started his search for it.

Memorable Scene:

--Jesus (the character, not the Bible-guy) licking blood off the floor of a men's room.

--Also, Ron Perlman's character obsessing about getting a nose job--and he gets punched in the nose twice.

A Note About The DVD:

--For some reason, getting the proper sound/subtitles mix was a real hassle--it didn't like to be set up ahead of time for some reason. Maybe I just had a DVD with some errors or something, but I selected Spanish with English Subtitles and ended up with an Audio Commentary--in Spanish! I eventually had to restart the film and just change everything as it played. I went through the opening sequence about five times and I think I still ended up with subtitles for the deaf or hard-of-hearing--because even Ron Perlman was subtitled and he spoke English through most of the film!

Acting: 8/10 Story: 10/10 Atmosphere: 8/10 Cinematography: 8/10 Character Development: 7/10 Special Effects/Make-up: 9/10 Nudity/Sexuality: 0/10 Violence/Gore: 6/10 (Very little gore, and only mild violence--all decent quality) Sets/Backgrounds: 7/10 Dialogue: 9/10 Music: 8/10 Writing: 8/10 Direction: 9/10

Cheesiness: 1/10 Crappiness: 0/10

Overall: 8/10

Overall, I think this deserves an 8, maybe a 7, but I settled with what I thought it deserved. It's not the best horror film out there, but it's quite good and very original. Recommended to all Horror fans. People with a passing interest in horror should check it out, too. Not too dark, violent, or gory for the squeamish. A Mexican gem.
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a simply beautiful movie
cornelius ayersrock15 May 2006
Cronos is the first Guillermo Del Toro movie, and it is a great achievement. There's not much to say : it is a beautiful movie, a classical, beautiful and simple movie. There's some fantastic in it, but that's not all : the greatness of this movie is based on the characters : Ron Perlman and the man at the morgue are specially brilliant. It is dark, full of suspense, tensed, and extremely funny in the same time. With low budget and simple frames, Del Toro has managed to picture the true essence of cinema : a good story, good characters, and lots of blood, humor and cruelty. What else could we add ? Just watch this. This movie has been badly underrated. It is intelligent and honest. Far superior to lots of over intellectual or too much precious horror movies with over beautiful aesthetics. CRONOS is simply brilliant. Long life to Guillermo Del Toro !
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Apparently a classic... but one I didn't car for at all.
Paul Andrews4 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Cronos is set in the Mexican town of Vera Cruz where an elderly antiques dealer named Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) has his own shop, one day while inspecting an antique statuette of an Angel he finds a small golden mechanical object that he winds up only to find it digs metal claws into his hand & wrist. Later that night Jesus places the small device on his chest & it digs into that, the next day & Jesus looks & feels much younger with much more vitality & energy. Jesus realises that the small golden device has regenerative powers but a dying industrialist Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook) also wants it & explains to Jesus that the device is called a Cronos & was made in 1535 by an alchemist intent on prolonging his life, Dieter also warns Jesus that if strict instructions are not followed the consequences will be dire. Addicted to the regenerative capabilities of the Cronos things change for Jesus as he finds himself drawn to drinking human blood, has a strong aversion to sunlight & his skin starts to peel off...

This Mexican production was the feature film writing & directing debut of Guillermo del Toro who subsequently went to Hollywood to make notable fantasy films such as Mimic (1997), Blade II (2002), Hellboy (2004) & Pan's Labyrinth (2006) & while often hailed as some sort of masterpiece I must admit that ultimately I was pretty disappointed with Cronos & I can't say I particularly liked it. The script lays the emotion on thick, while Cronos has fantasy & horror aspects there is perhaps a greater story trying to be told here. A heartwarming, tear jerking story of age, death, disease, society & the horrors of life itself but I found the whole affair rather plodding, rather dull, rather boring & lacking in anything to really capture my imagination & compliment the drama. I just found myself bored & unable to get involved in the story & the character's at all. Cronos is a sort of dark fairy tale about Vampirism but as you would expect from del Toro his sympathies lie with the Vampire antiques dealer & makes him the hero, the character we should pity & feel sorry for while making the real villains ordinary people with their desires, brutality & cold bloodidness. At just under an hour & a half Cronos moves along at a reasonable pace, certainly has a few moments worth watching & is generally well written & produced even if none of it particularly resonated with or captivated me.

Although not strictly a Vampire film as such the side-effects that Jesus suffers from using the Cronos are definitely Vampire-ish with the blood drinking, body rejuvenating, sunlight burning properties he develops. As one would expect Cronos looks very stylish, the screen is packed full of detail & I am sure a lot of time & effort went into the look of Cronos. There are a few neat shots like the internal clockwork mechanism of the Cronos clicking away in close-up. Unusually Cronos is a multi lingual film that switches between Mexican & English spoken dialogue for no apparent reason & sometimes even within the same scene & same conversation.

Apparently Cronos had an original budget of about $1,500,000 but it went over & ended up costing more like $2,000,000. Filmed in Mexico. The acting was alright, I can't say I thought anyone was great but then maybe that's because I couldn't get into the story. Apparently the character of Jesus Gris was written specifically for Max von Sydow.

Cronos is a film that most people seem to love for being a dark fairytale fantasy horror with great style & substance, personally I totally disagree with that statement as Cronos did nothing for me other than just about pass an hour & a half with one or two nice visuals. Disappointing.
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Good idea, poor (and I mean ***POOR***) execution
evilmatt-330 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
*spoilers herein; ignore them and watch this film at your own risk*

I am very sorry, Mr. Del Toro, but after sitting through yet another tepid horror film of yours, I am completely at a loss as to why so many genre fans refer to you as a "master of horror." Along the _The Devil's Backbone_, I have never seen such flagrant incompetence with the genre and its elements.

However, I gave this film a 4/10 because, if nothing else, we have a really neat concept here. I give Del Toro the credit he deserves for finally de-sexing the vampire and actually making it as disgusting in practice as it is in concept. The scene at the very beginning involving the fate of the alchemist is fantastic. Further, the idea of a (sort of alchemic/cybernetic) vampirism device is even brilliant and lends itself to all sorts of fun possibilities.

Unfortunately, beyond the excellent beginning sequence, ZERO of those possibilities are explored. Rather than focus on Jesús' descent into vampirism (despite his still real love for his wife and granddaughter), the film instead makes this a sappy treatise on silent intergenerational love, conveniently ignoring any real-world implications of anything Jesús says or does. Is the point that, if you love someone, you let them destroy themselves, as Aurora does in allowing Jesús to continue using the Cronos device? Or maybe if you love them, you bring them into incredibly dangerous, life threatening situations, as when Jesús brings Aurora into the jaws of La Guardia for no apparent reason.

Besides the thematic concerns, the script is just terrible. The last 20 minutes make absolutely no sense whatsoever if we are to believe that the characters can think at all. I couldn't help yelling at my television, "Will everybody please stop arguing for a second and just THINK about this?!?!"

WTF: Jesús has the Cronos device, and La Guardia wants it. La Guardia explains that he will share the device with Jesús, who refuses, saying that he just wants to die. La Guardia is delighted and says he will tell Jesús how to die if Jesús just hands over the device. Jesús refuses (?), saying that La Guardia must fulfill his end of the bargain and kill Jesús before the device is handed over (????). There is an ensuing struggle, in which Jesús kills La Guardia (?????????????????????) and attempts to escape with it (even though he wants to be rid of it). Angél (who never understood what any of this was about in the first place), seeing his uncle dead, is ecstatic because he is now rich. Upon seeing Jesús escape, he suddenly decides he wants to stop Jesús (although "why" is never explored; to my knowledge Angél does not know Jesús even has the device, nor would he be interested in it anyway). The only apparent purpose of this is so that Angél can die "the Disney villain death" by falling a great distance. Jesús is also killed, but Aurora, even though she knows of his wish for death, inexplicably uses the device to bring him back to life, albeit as a bed-ridden invalid. Exeunt.

What's dumber: that I actually sat through this garbage or that I will go see _Hellboy_? Oy.
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Moving Tale of Love and Tragedy
Space_Mafune27 December 2003
My recording is the English dub of the film. Despite the feeling I've missed something in the translation, I still love this film. It's a very moving tale of a man who turns (and yet doesn't turn) into a monster, a victim of circumstance.
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A new bite on an old mythology.
Tressa Breen26 April 2005
A new vision of the vampire myth involving an insect trapped in a device that grants immortality, 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.

Frederico Luppi is excellent as Gris. He brings a depth and "every-man" dignity to Jesus not often seen. A subtle, detailed performance.

Claudio Brooks is terrifying as the obsessed De La Guardia. A "Dorian Gray" portrait of a monster whose humanity lays in a tank with his diseased organs.

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.

Favorite line (narration describing the death of the Cronos device creator): "His skin was the color of marble in moonlight."

Definitely worth buying.
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Arid,hackneyed and distasteful.
VinAnimous14 May 2011
Guillermo del Toro being one of my favorite directors and having watched most of his movies felt bad to leave Cronos unwatched.As Cronos is regarded as Guillermo del Toro's first motion picture i was very much excited to watch this movie ,but my excitement quickly turned into dismay as Cronos was nothing like his other films,films which have rich characters of profound depth and background.

Having said that,the story and actors were promising but they ended up disappointing too by the end of film.

But its good to see that the writer/director quickly learned from his mistakes and gave some of my favorite hits.
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Interesting and intriguing take on the vampire genre
Troy Ros23 October 2002
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 possess 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 recommend the version with subtitles, because much of the dialogue is already in English. Ron Perlman's character for example speaks very little Spanish.

Perhaps now that Guillermo del Toro is more well known in the US, we will get a region 1 NTSC release on dvd.
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This movie really did not have all that much going on.
Aaron137514 July 2009
The person that made this film would go on to make some really good movies such as Blade II, both Hellboys, and many more really interesting movies. This one just did not grab me though. for the most part it moved slowly, the plot was simple enough to understand, to simple and for the most part it was kind of dull. It had some promise, but for the most part it is a very tiresome movie to sit through. Granted, it did not help that I watched this film on the science fiction station where parts of the movie may have been cut out and the movie's flow was interrupted by constant commercials so as much as I did not really care for the movie then I would like to see it again in an uncut format with no commercial interruptions. The film is about some sort of antique dealer who finds something hidden in an object, some sort of beetle shaped mechanism that attaches itself to your arm and makes it so one can live longer. Suffice to say others would also like to get a hold of this device. That is about all there is to it, not so much a horror movie, more of a suspense with some horror elements present.
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One of the best vampire movies out there...
Alucard Venom17 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I consider Del Toro as one of the most imaginative filmmakers today, and this is his take on a vampire movies.

Problem with vampire movies today is that they are overdone to death, and they all fallows the standard formula of vampire flick: drinking blood, flying, biting, being gay, and turning into a bats. Now, with this movie Del Toro turns classic vampire story upside down. This is completely unique take on a vampire myths. Story is about man who turns into a vampire after he is "bitten" by device which was made by the alchemist in 16th century. At first, he is lucky. After every "bite" by the Cronos device, he gets younger. But... of course, device has it's side effect - he is slowly turning into a vampire and his body is rotting! Del Toro makes this movie incredibly emotional and that's the main focus of the movie. Basic concept is that granddaughter of unfortunate man who is ironically called Jesus, begins to accept her grandfather no matter how bad he looks or how bad he acts. It's a family value movie. It's not your typical horror or vampire movie. It's a love story, family value movie with elements of the fantasy and horror. It's one of the best vampire movies ever made, almost touching the ranks of the Nosferatu, Near Dark and The Hunger...
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An overrated novelty of a film
mgbesq1 August 2002
'Cronos' tends to get a lot of honorable mention whenever it is brought up in articles or reviews, largely due to director Guillermo Del Toro's ever-rising star. However, even as a fan of his work, I found this film to be stunningly dull and poorly acted.

The story is a twist on the vampire legend, centering on a mysterious golden mechanical scarab known as the Cronos which can provide eternal (or at least radically extended) life. Unfortunately, along with youth, the Cronos also causes a craving for human blood. An aging antiques dealer discovers the Cronos and unwittingly uses it, while Ron Perlman and his evil/rich uncle repeatedly try to make it their own.

Unfortunately, what follows is sub-par at best, and the execution is downright laughable. From the sexy blonde that graces the video sleeve (and is not in a single frame of the film), to the 'Magnum P.I.'-style opening titles, to the excruciating bilingual dialogue, this is simply B-grade moviemaking with no personality to speak of. 'Cronos' is not suspenseful, nor is it atmospheric or scary. The gore is not gross, and the bad guys and monsters aren't threatening. Not to mention the always-intriguing Ron Perlman's hack performance and bad accent. What is a French-Canadian doing in Mexico? What is he doing in this film? Why can't he at least try to speak Spanish all the time? How much potential production value did the producers waste on this guy's salary?

I have no problem with low budget (or even inexperienced) filmmaking, and the horror genre is one that can definately succeed within those limited confines (see 'Halloween'), but here Del Toro's budding touches are so subtle they might as well not even be there. I am glad to say that he has gotten increasingly better with each film, and those interested in pursuing his works will ultimately come across 'Cronos.' The novelty of that reason is the only excuse anyone should have for renting this loser.
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much ado about the cronos
MisterWhiplash2 May 2008
Guillermo del Toro was 28 when he made Cronos, which according to himself on the new DVD was the only problem, that there were many points of pressure making such a big-budget movie in Mexico, as his debut, and only had access to so many materials. But for what he had available, del Toro made a film that has his signature traits. It's got some fantastical special effects, some nasty imagery, and even some sentiment to it (maybe sentimentality depending on the point of view). It isn't perfect, but it doesn't really try to be anything like that; it's a dark tale of the tragedy of possession, and the bond between elders and their young ones. It's also, for a debut, astonishingly well directed. The man who would make such a great work of modern art like Pan's Labyrinth shows his potential here.

It's the story of a lost object, or presumably lost, that has very significant history to it (as we learn in the bad-ass opening narration). Then it opens on an antique dealer, Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi, great Mexican actor), who comes across it and finds that the object- an golden insect clock/creature that burrows itself into one's hand or other body part- is very addictive. But only after his place is trashed does he realize that a wealthy dying guy is after it too for the power it holds: eternity. In the meantime he has Ron Perelman as the old man's nephew to contend with, who in all actually hates the man for all intents and deathly purposes, and only his very young, not-talking-yet granddaughter can assist him in any way.

Before going any further I should make note of the granddaughter, Aurora, played by Tamara Shanath. It's probably the only real glaring flaw throughout the movie, and especially in looking at Cronos in relation to other works by the director. Usually del Toro is totally keen on using child actors and crafting really interesting characters (either the male lead in Devil's Backbone or especially Ofelia in 'Labyrinth'). Here it doesn't really work as well; he means it to be the main emotional connection that makes some sense, but she's nowhere near the level that Luppi is up to, and only towards the end really makes her mark on the character. This, plus a few little technical glitches like some strange make-up effects that fall a little flat (ripping stomach skin, anyone?), are the only big set-backs I could see.

Aside from that, it's pretty much all good as far as brave, original horror film-making goes. It's technically a vampire movie, as Jesus Gris craves blood while under the spell of the cronos device, but it's not as one usually sees (del Toro based it on other vampire lore, more obscure bits of history that involve the insects we see so fervently used as symbolism), which is good to see. And his method of suspense has a keen knack to it, like a somber ghost story with touches of a more modern action/thriller. This isn't Blade II; it's more meditative, with a little more soul to it in many instances, and the style of the camera and the lighting reflect this too. Also, for good measure, there's some really wicked and demented humor thrown in (mostly courtesy of Perelman, or bits like the cremation scene) to lighten up all of the nastiness and bleakness to the piece.

It's all in all a very good movie, a work of a director passionately concerned about his themes and trying different ideas out, and also working out a style that's pumped up by most of the performances (duly noted is Claudio Brook as de la Guardia, who has a kind of gray quality that disavows the easy target of him as the villain).
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The Alchemist del Toro's first film.
Alex Batenko8 November 2004
This is perhaps the most original film in the fantasy genre this decade, coming from an extraordinarily gifted director. In the mid-90s, a spate of independent films from Mexico in the genre of Magical Realism like "Like Water For Chocolate" and "El Mariachi" came to the notice of American art house cinema. Given that, this was still quite an unexpected surprise. Like another brilliant film of the previous decade, Near Dark (1987, director: Kathryn Bigelow), the "v" word is never mentioned and never needs to be. This film trusts the audience's intelligence and rewards it with an understated tale of a humble antique dealer and his granddaughter when they accidentally stumble upon a mysterious artifact that grants its user immortality at a price. The acting is superb and you feel with the characters as they battle those who seek possession of the device at any cost.
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Not really a horror film
puchta27 May 2002
While pretending to be a horror movie, this film is centered around the relation of the antique dealer and his granddaughter. She knows of the "Cronos device" and tries to protect him, and though eventually herself in danger, she saves him twice. Her acting is superb, displaying very natural and believable the whole range of emotions.

The movie is as different to ordinary vampire films as possible. It is set in everyday life, a deserted factory the most "gothic" scenery. At the same time this factory resembles the mechanical interior of the device. There are no obvious surprises,in fact, the opening shot tells us almost as much about the device as Jesus finds out during the whole film. It is how he and his granddaughter react on this threat that keeps the audience enthralled.

During most of the film the camera is extremely static, which emphasises the meaning of its movements. When Jesus drinks blood while his granddaughter is present, the scenery freezes, while the camera circles around them; a lot is going on while nothing is moving.
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