Sunday, October 09, 2011

31 Days of Halloween - Day 9 - Movie

 In honor of Guillermo Del Toro's birthday I decided to watch Cronos (1993)  his first feature film, and the first of his movies I ever saw and immediately made me pay attention to Del Toro's future works. So many signature tropes of his body of work were already present here; clockwork mechanisms, insects, lone children interacting with the fantastic, regular actors Federico Luppi and Ron Perlman.

In Cronos Federico Luppi plays Jesus Gris, a kindly antiques dealer who discovers a clockwork device hidden inside a statue of an archangel. The device, shaped like a scarab, attaches itself to Gris' hand piercing his flesh. He tears it away, but later finds himself compelled to use it again, and again, feeling invigorated after each use. The device is also something that an old sickly man has been searching for for years because he believes it's the key to keeping him immortal. He sends his nephew (Ron Perlman) to retrieve it from Gris. The device is not quite the key to eternal life that the sickly man believes it to be, and yet it's also more. Gris' exposure to it turns him into a vampiric creature, whose craving for blood and use of the device shows just how terribly addicting this transformation is.

This is a really wonderful movie and a unique take on the vampire story. Gris' relationship with his granddaughter, Aurora, Tamara Shanath is the warm heart of the movie and the mirror through which we view the consequences of Gris' addiction to the device and subsequent transformation. The performances are uniformly wonderful and understated, except for Perlman whose playful swagger as the beleaguered thug nephew of the dying industrialist desperate to get his hands on the device, makes him at once threatening and comical. Like the performances, the movie itself is presented with an understated grace and a touch of humor such as the names of the characters and the dying industrialist's decorating scheme with is a testament to both his mortality and his quest to overcome it.

Cronos is highly recommended.



Belle Dee said...

I watched part of this movie years ago and don't even remember anything about it. Since then I've become a fan of Del Toro's films, and I really want to re-visit this one.

John Rozum said...

You must! I insist. I also think you need to do an illustration of Santi from The Devil's Backbone.