Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • TBC
  • Drama, Thriller
  • 1992
  • 92 mins




An inventive and compassionate reworking of vampire mythology from Mexican writer-director Guillermo Del Toro. An old antiques dealer finds a mechanical device capable of disturbing transformations


Filmmakers have long riffed on the basic stakes-and-sunlight tales of vampires. Nadja, The Hunger, The Wisdom Of Crocodiles, all have taken the abiding vampire mythology as reiterated by Universal in the 1930s and Hammer in the 1950s,1960s and 1970s, and worked in various new themes. Mexican Del Toro introduces an original take with his debut feature, while toying respectfully and playfully with the atmospherics of vintage Hammer.

A prologue introduces a Da Vinci-esque 16th century alchemist and clockmaker who creates "the cronos device", which is "the key to eternal life". In 1937, a strange, marble-skinned figure is killed when a building collapses, his chest pierced by a broken joist - it is, horror of horrors, the same alchemist.

Cut to contemporary Mexico, where antique dealer Jesús Gris (Luppi) and his granddaughter Aurora (Shanath) discover an ornate, scarab-like object hidden within a statue of an angel. Experimenting, Jesús has his skin punctured by needle-like legs that emerge from the device. Despite the pain, the result is that Jesús looks younger. Experimentation gives way to compulsion. But Jesús' new vigour is accompanied by a slowly dawning blood-lust ("I'll be back in a second, I just need a drink" he says before going to the toilet and attempting to slurp up a nosebleed from the floor). He also starts getting hassled by Dieter (Brook), a mysterious, Howard Hughes-like figure who sends out his thuggish nephew Angel (Perlman) to find the device, hoping it will bring him eternal life. A tad zealous, Angel succeeds in killing Jesús. But he doesn't simply succumb so easily.

With a name like Jesús Gris, what would you expect? Jesús does undergo a resurrection, but it's not Christ-like and inspirational, it's messy and sorrowful. A damaged corpse, painted and dressed up by the mortician, Jesús is an unlikely, tragic hero. Rather than giving himself up to his blood-lust and undead longevity, he instead is confused but essentially moral. The pathos of his circumstances are upped further by the loyalty of his granddaughter. Cronos is peculiarly compassionate, approaching the question of immortality poetically as well as horrifically and humorously.

Browse our reviews of other arresting directorial debuts

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Claudio Brook, Margarita Isabel, Tamara Shanath, Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Daniel Giménez Cacho
  • Director: Guillermo Del Toro
  • Screen Writer: Guillermo Del Toro
  • Producer: Bertha Navarro, Arthur H Gorson
  • Photographer: Guillermo Navarro
  • Composer: Javier ??lvarez

In a nutshell

A charming horror movie, if such a thing is possible.

by Daniel Etherington

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Down to the Sea in Ships

    Maritime adventure starring Lionel Barrymore, Dean Stockwell and Richard Widmark. An ageing whaling captain takes his grandson to sea to teach him about life and hunting whales.

    On Film4: 14 Oct 3:45PM

  • Film4

    Thunder Island

    Thriller. A hit man (Gene Nelson) is hired to kill a former Caribbean dictator. He abducts a couple and their boat to reach the despot's island, but then his plans go badly wrong.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF: five favourites

    Elena Lazic reports from the Toronto International Film festival on her five favourites of the fest. The Lobster Yorgos Lanthimos' success in realising the usually disastrous combination of farci

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF: five favourites

    Manuela Lazic reports from the Toronto International Film Festival on five favourites from the fest. The Witch What if the sorceresses and deadly spells in which people believed so fervently in th

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register