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A new vision of the vampire mythos: a review of "Cronos"

Cronos    (1993)
     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.
Director: Guillermo Del Toro (directorial debut).
Starring: Claudio Brooks (De La Guardia), Frederico Luppi (Jesus Gris), Ron Perlman (Angel), Tamara Shanath (Aurora).
     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" diginity 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 surgically removed 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."
     This film is worth buying not renting. I recommend getting the DVD as the extras and commentaries 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. 
     First published in 2004 on The Perlman Pages.

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