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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Cronos [Blu-ray]


(Guillermo del Toro, 1993)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #551



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:32:28.960

Disc Size: 47,085,798,230 bytes

Feature Size: 29,077,407,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.96 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 7th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 2081 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2081 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 2080 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2080 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), none



• Optional original Spanish-language voice-over introduction
• Two audio commentaries, one featuring del Toro, the other producers Arthur H. Gorson and Bertha Navarro and coproducer Alejandro Springall
Geometria, an unreleased 1987 short horror film by del Toro, finished in 2010, with a new video interview with the director (6:27)
Welcome to Bleak House, a video tour by del Toro of his home offices, featuring his personal collections (10:14)
• New video interviews with del Toro (17:36), Navarro (12:36), and actor Ron Perlman (7:25)
• Video interview ('The Making of Cronos') with actor Federico Luppi (5:25)
• Stills gallery (60 images)
• Trailer (1:29)
• 42-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Maitland McDonagh and excerpts from del Toro’s notes for the film





Description: Guillermo del Toro made an auspicious and audacious feature debut with Cronos, a highly unorthodox tale about the seductiveness of the idea of immortality. Kindly antiques dealer Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi) happens upon an ancient golden device in the shape of a scarab, and soon finds himself the possessor and victim of its sinister, addictive powers, as well as the target of a mysterious American named Angel (a delightfully crude and deranged Ron Perlman). Featuring marvelous special makeup effects and the haunting imagery for which del Toro has become world-renowned, Cronos is a dark, visually rich, and emotionally captivating fantasy.



The Film:

Cronos, Guillermo del Toro's (The Devil's Backbone, Blade 2, Hellboy) first film, a decidedly unique take on vampirism and its effects on an unsuspecting antiques dealer, gestated for almost seven years before del Toro obtained the funding necessary to shoot his script. That time allowed del Toro to polish his script to near perfection, as well as work in the Mexican television industry as a director and makeup effects artist to hone his skills. With Cronos, Guillermo del Toro's first film, sought to re-imagine the vampire mythos. Rather than explore vampirism as a blood-borne plague (the modern interpretation), del Toro focuses his film on the Cronos device of the title, a golden scarab with metal spider legs and scorpion stinger that houses an imprisoned, parasitic, seemingly eternal insect that exchanges immortality for human blood. The Cronos device is the product of alchemy, the creation of a 16th century Spanish occultist who flees to the New World to escape the Spanish Catholic Church and the Spanish Inquisition.

All that is prologue, however, as an unseen narrator shares this exposition with the audience, the camera glides down to the dying alchemist, crushed under the masonry of a collapsed bank. The next scene introduces the price to be paid for immortality, murder, as the camera dollies through a set of rooms, briefly revealing a desanguinated victim hanging by his feet. The device disappears for several decades until an antiques dealer, Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) discovers the device in the hollowed statue of an archangel. The device, however, has been sought by a rich, but dying, Western industrialist, Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook), and his henchman/nephew, Angel (Ron Perlman). Accidentally pricked by the Cronos device, the protagonist finds himself caught in a tightening spiral of conflict and violence against antagonistic forces, both internal and external, he can barely understand.

Excerpt from Mel Valentin at the Movie Vault located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Cronos looks excellent on Blu-ray - there is a consistent balance between detail and grain. The darker sequences have very little noise. This is dual-layered transfer with a very strong bitrate. It is advertised as 'supervised and approved by director Guillermo del Toro and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro' and I expect this can't look much more authentic to the filmmakers intent on this 1080P format. Contrast is at Criterion's usual high level and there is some depth in the very clean image. The source must have been in excellent condition and I'd have to say the image quality is flawless.

















Audio :

Cronos is mostly in Spanish with some English. This version has the original US theatrical English voice-over introduction but we get the option of the original Spanish-language intro. All the audio is rendered in a lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 track at 2081 kbps. It exports some depth surprises and seems quite strong in representing the audio intent of the film. There are optional English subtitles (approved by the director) and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.


Extras :

There are some wonderful supplements on the Criterion disc - we get two 2002 audio commentaries as originally found on the Lions Gate 10th Anniversary Special Edition DVD, one (the 'Director's') featuring del Toro, the other ('Producer's') with Arthur H. Gorson and Bertha Navarro and co-producer Alejandro Springall. Geometria, is a 6.5 minute unreleased 1987 short horror film by del Toro, finished in 2010, with a new video interview with the director. Welcome to Bleak House, is a 10-minute video tour by del Toro of his home offices, featuring his personal collections. This is a unique perspective on the mind of this highly imaginative filmmaker. There are new video interviews with del Toro (17:36 - discussing the film's place in his career), Oscar-winning cinematographer and long-time del Toro collaborator, Guillermo Navarro who talks for 12-minutes on his work in Cronos and relationship with the director, and actor Ron Perlman who reminisces about Cronos and work with del Toro for 7-minutes. There is also selection entitled 'The Making of Cronos' - an archive featurette from 1993 - with actor Federico Luppi for 5-minutes. He discusses his starring role as Jesus Gris and his thoughts on the film and its director. There are about 60 images in a stills gallery, a trailer and finally a 42-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Maitland McDonagh and excerpts from del Toro’s notes for the film.



I definitely feel some nostalgia when I view Cronos - it often reminds me of Argento. But it simply could be that the film is now, unbelievably, 17-years old. Del Toro started quite early painting the cinematic canvas with his own creative style. The 'gore' couldn't be considered gratuitous and never impinges on the pace and style - this is a mark of intelligent, well-thought-out, filmmaking. In North America the film was given limited release to 2 theaters where it grossed $17K but is now very highly regarded as a top-flight vampire film - the debut of an important contributor to the genre. The Blu-ray is transferred at Criterion's high level and offers keen, viable, extra features. Horror fans should be thrilled with this product - buy with extreme confidence.  

Gary Tooze

November 22nd, 2010



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
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Gary W. Tooze






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