is the 1993
feature debut from Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro, who later went
on to achieve worldwide acclaim with such films as Blade II, the
Hellboy franchise and the exquisite Panís Labyrinth.
Though perhaps not as
widely known as some of his later works, all the directorís hallmarks (ie.
obsessions) are present in spades in Cronos. Ostensibly a
vampire film, the movie features prominent religious imagery and the
recurrent themes of insect life, mechanics, alchemy as well as a
preoccupation with death and rebirth that would characterise almost
without exception Del Toroís later filmic output.
Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi)
is an elderly antique dealer in Mexico City, who comes into the
possession of a hoary wooden archangel. Finding it rotten and full of
cockroaches, he pries open the statueís base and discovers a mysterious
gold contraption shaped like a scarab. The viewer has already learned
from the filmís prologue that the finely crafted clockwork bug was the
invention of a 16th century alchemist and holds the secret of
immortality. The scarab is lusted after by an terminally ill and
thoroughly unscrupulous American businessman (Claudio Brook), who learnt
of its existence from the alchemistís journals and has spent the past 40
years in search of the elusive object, aided, at times reluctantly, by
his hulking, ruthless nephew (Hellboyís Ron Perlman). Together
Jesus and his young granddaughter Aurora must try and outwit the
bloodthirsty pair, hopefully not becoming too bloodthirsty, or undead,
themselves in the process.
visually rich and expertly paced film, rife with all the transcendent
imagery and attention to detail one would expect from the inimitable
Mexican auteur. As a potent allegory of American heavy-handedness in
its dealings with its southern neighbour it works a treat, but itís also
a superb treatment of the vampire theme and one that breathes new life
into the genre of the undead.
Madmanís new Blu-ray
edition features a flawless HD transfer (Del Toroís signature 1:85:1
aspect ratio has never looked better) and is laden with excellent
extras, including a Directorís Commentary, a predictably insightful
hour-long interview in which Del Toro covers the filming process, his
inspiration for the piece and almost anything you can think of, and
plenty more. Itís a must for Del Toro fans who havenít already visited
this early gem, and another faultless entry into the Madman canon of
Directorís Suite classics.