Shiny Shelf


By Stephen Lavington on 17 May 2002

It is hard to imagine the same director making two more disparate vampire movies than Cronos and Blade II. In this earlier effort, Del Toro opted for slow, character-driven storytelling rather than frenetic action; believable, human protagonists rather than muscle-pumped superhumans and Ron Perlman as a treacherous bad guy as opposed to… well, all the other aspects are different.

A twentieth century antique dealer Jesus Gris (Del Toro favourite Frederico Luppi) comes into contact with a sixteenth century device – a small metal box containing a creature capable of prolonging life through its sting. An ageing industrialist is searching for this device and intends to secure it through his brutish nephew – Angel de la Guardia (Perlman).

The key theme in all this is the standard vampiric riff on addiction. But Del Toro handles this with more subtlety than the fey goth whinging or rampaging bloodlust usual to vampire films. Instead we see it in a more gnawing, human form. The device itself is compared to a health-giving cigarette and the antiques dealer seems hooked on it as if it were heroin. The predominant comment is perhaps on our need to live. To experience. Yet, the avaricious old businessman who searches for immortality lives in a sterile Howard Hughes environment devoid of stimulation or reasons for existence.

This will appeal to those who enjoyed The Devil’s Backbone. Just as that film represented a new spin on the ghost story, Cronos provides a novel interpretation of an increasingly worn genre.

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By Stephen Lavington

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