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Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1996

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2013 by goregirl

There was the regular volume of 90s mud to wade through and a few of the worst of the worst were mainstream efforts which included The Island of Dr. Moreau, Mary Reilly and Diabolique but I still managed to pull together what I think is a solid top ten. There have not been a whole lot of repeat directors showing up on these 90s list but 1996 is an exception with Dario Argento, Peter Jackson, Shozin Fukui and Wes Craven all having their second entries! Film number one earned a 5/5 rating, films two through nine are films I rated 4/5 and film ten I rated 3.5/5. I gave one other film from 1996 a 3.5/5 which was Ebola Syndrome.

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#10 KILLER CONDOM
Directed By: Martin Walz

Killer Condom is based on the comic book of the same name by Ralf König. Apparently H. R. Giger was a creative consultant on the project. Killer Condom is a German film spoken in German that is set in New York?! Men in New York are losing their penises to the titular Killer Condom’s and Luigi Mackaroni is on the case. Luigi Mackaroni is a man who knows the streets of New York; a well-seasoned, chain smoking openly gay detective who is well known at the particular hotel where it all started. While Killer Condom definitely has a sleazy vibe and an outrageous premise neither the violence nor nudity is graphic; it is more campy than exploitative. It features a super Luigi sized killer condom, a mad scientist, a self-righteous pious villain and a lot of adorable little rubbers that make giggly cartoony noises. If that isn’t enough it has a love story and a heart warming happy ending! Killer Condom kept my attention and made me laugh often. To read the full review click here.

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#9 GAMERA 2: ATTACK OF THE LEGION
Directed By: Shûsuke Kaneko

Gamera! I mean really?! Who amoung us does not love a giant flying turtle?! Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion is one of the many entertaining post 80s Kaiju flicks I am discovering is well worth visiting. In Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion; the Legion refers to a species of alien insects that landed via meteor and have created a home in the city’s subway. The Legion is causing the oxygen levels to rise which explode their flower thingies with an end game of colonization. Gamera to the rescue! Tons of destruction, huge spectacular Kaiju battles, cool monster effects (some of the best I have seen in a Kaiju film!) and action galore make Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion an absolute must see bit of entertainment!

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#8 SPLATTER: NAKED BLOOD
Directed By: Hisayasu Sato

Splatter: Naked Blood is about a trio of women who volunteer to test a chemical contraceptive. The doctor’s son however is looking to conduct his own experiment and injects his own potion into his mother’s with horrific results. Splatter: Naked Blood has some nasty gore, weirdness, nudity, sex, laughs, nifty sound effects and a neato soundtrack. Be warned, the gore is nasty, but if that is your thing, have at it! To read my full review click here. I couldn’t find a trailer for the film, but I think this clip says it all.

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#7 THE STENDHAL SYNDROME
Directed By: Dario Argento

The Stendhal Syndrome is based on psychologist’s Graziella Magherini book about the affliction. Argento himself apparently once suffered from Stendhal Syndrome when he was a child. Detective Anna Manni is struck by the titular torment while at a museum. The detective is on the trail of a serial killer who uses the infirmity against her. Asia Argento plays Detective Manni and goes through the full gamut of emotions and is at times vulnerable, sad, and fierce; I think it is one of her best performances and despite looking terribly young and fresh faced she is quite effective in the role. The Stendhal Syndrome did not come up on the IMDB horror movie list much to my surprise! After this re-watch I understand why; The Stendhal Syndrome really is a dramatic thriller not a horror film. The Stendhal Syndrome is not without some plot issues, but is well paced, beautifully filmed with gorgeous sets and is a fascinating, unsettling and at times brutal bit of goodness.

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#6 THE FRIGHTENERS
Directed By: Peter Jackson

The Frighteners is a wacky horror-comedy about an architect named Frank Bannister who after surviving a car wreck that kills his wife has the ability to communicate with ghosts. The architect becomes a ghostbusting con man who uses the spirits to haunt residents that he than exorcises for cash. It is all fun and games until a malevolent spirit shows up. Frank tries to help the victims as he is able to see a number on their foreheads prior to their deaths and becomes suspect himself. Eccentric and obsessive FBI agent Milton Dammers is brought in to work on the case. The Frighteners is well-written, humorous, creepy, and has outrageous characters and great effects. Nicely cast too especially Jeffrey Combs who is absolutely brilliant as the insane FBI agent Dammers. Boo-haha!

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#5 RUBBER’S LOVER
Directed By: Shozin Fukui

Shozin Fukui’s 964 Pinocchio earned the number four slot for my favourites of 1991. Fukui’s Rubber’s Lover is a prequel of sorts to 964 Pinocchio and is an equally hallucinatory trip! Like its predecessor; Rubber’s Lover is a highly visual, incredibly weird, graphic and violent cyberpunk entry. Rubber’s Lover focuses on a group of psychotic scientists conducting twisted experiments using sensory depravation and mind-altering drugs to torture their unfortunate and involuntary patients. Their experiments are dangerous and brutal and inevitably result in calamity. Filmed in black and white with a heavy emphasis on metal, gears and fetishism. Do not stand; Keep your arms inside the vehicle at all times and your seatbelt securely fastened.

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#4 DON’T LOOK UP
Directed By: Hideo Nakata

It is like Don’t Look Up never existed. I could not find a trailer or a single clip for this film on YouTube; only its god-awful disaster of a remake from 2007 showed up in searches. This original directed by Hideo Nakata is virtually impossible to find and doesn’t seem to have ever had a release on DVD. What a shame because I think it is one of Nakata’s best. A crew filming in an old studio reviews the rushes from a day of shooting and it appears some old film stock has become intermingled with their new shots. The director recognizes the old footage from something he had watched on television as a child. He becomes obsessed with the images and learns the film was never finished. I seeked out this well-made, thoughtful and eerie supernatural tale on the strong recommendation of Wednesday’s Child over at 90s Horror (and Deep Red Rum) and it was no easy task to find! I am certainly not in the habit of doing such things, but this was such a great little film I have decided to post the link to where I was able to watch it online (click here). For fans of Japanese ghost stories I think it is well worth a watch.

don't look up

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#3 TESIS
Directed By: Alejandro Amenábar

Tesis did not come up on the IMDB horror film search and definitely leans towards a mystery-thriller but I think the film’s theme qualifies it enough to be here. Angela is a film student working on a thesis of violence in media at the University Complutense (the same University its director Alejandro Amenábar attended in real life). Through her research she discovers a video where a former student of the university is brutally killed. Her investigation of the material draws her into a heinous snuff ring. The film’s tagline is “My name is Angela. They’re going to kill me.” Which should give you some idea of where the story inevitable goes. The excellent performances from Ana Torrent, Fele Martínez and the handsome Eduardo Noriega (who would go on to star in Amenábar’s excellent Open Your Eyes) are all top notch. Tesis is smart, thrilling, suspenseful and an exceptionally well acted film from Spain that is well worth checking out.

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#2 SCREAM
Directed By: Wes Craven

Scream satirizes the horror genre and its many clichés. Based ever so loosely on The Gainesville Ripper and taking place in the fictional town of Woodsboro; it focuses on central character Sidney Prescott whose mother was killed one year previously. When teenagers from the town begin turning up dead Sidney begins to think that the crimes may be related to her mother’s death. An estranged father, her mother’s ex-lover and even her friends are all suspects. Scream was a huge commercial success and brought renewed interest to the genre; sadly it also seems to have birthed a series of irritating, stupid nonsense like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Valentine and Urban Legend but nonetheless Scream is a funny, clever and nasty film that is damn entertaining.

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#1 FROM DUSK TIL DAWN
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

Bad-ass Brothers Richie and Seth Gecko are wanted men looking for a way to cross the border. As luck would have it a pastor questioning his faith and his two children show up in a motorhome. The Gecko’s take the family hostage and successfully cross the border to meet up with their contact at a remote strip club called the Titty Twister. Unfortunately for the group the Titty Twister happens to be a nest for a whole lotta vicious and nasty vampires. I love how From Dusk til Dawn starts out as a crime thriller and evolves into a full frontal horror flick. From Dusk til Dawn is action-packed, violent, nasty, well-paced, full of dark humour, has great effects and is perfectly cast. Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, George Clooney, Ernest Liu, Quentin Tarantino and cameos from the likes of Cheech Marin, Michael Parks, Salma Hayek, John Saxon, Danny Trejo, Fred Williamson and Tom Savini. And it has pussy; hot pussy, cold pussy, wet pussy, smelly pussy, snapping pussy…come on in pussy lovers…From Dusk til Dawn is a shitload of bloody fun!

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Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1993

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2013 by goregirl

It was my intention to post a top ten list each week during this 90s feature and I have already gone and dropped the ball! I had to dig pretty deep to come up with ten films for 1993. I would have liked to have gotten my hands on a copy of The Wicked City; a Hong Kong made Sci-Fi/horror, but no dice. I did not give any film from 1993 a perfect score. The top two are films I rated 4.5/5, films three and four were rated 4/5, five through seven were rated 3.5/5 and eight through ten are films I rated 3/5. I also gave the following four films a 3/5; Skinner, Jack Be Nimble, The Good Son and Bloodstone: Subspecies II.

*Only feature-length films will be included on the top ten lists for the decade; I do not include shorts, documentaries or made for television movies.

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#10 ED AND HIS DEAD MOTHER
Directed By: Jonathan Wacks

Ed and his Dead Mother is a horror-comedy of the PG variety. Ed is a serious mama’s boy who is awkward, likable and completely dedicated to the family hardware store. Ed would do anything to get his mother back, including making a deal with the Happy People Corporation to resurrect her. Ed lives with his Uncle Benny who is always telling Ed he needs to move on with his life. Imagine Uncle Benny’s surprise one morning when he finds his sister in the refrigerator peeling potatoes! Ned Beatty is great and gets the film’s better lines. I also enjoyed Gary Farmer who plays Big Lar, one of Ed’s hardware store employees. Eric Christmas is also memorable as a sales man for the Happy People Corporation. And of course there is the affable and talented Steve Buscemi who plays Ed, who is really this comedy’s straight man. Sadly the ladies are the weak link here. I don’t really think Miriam Margolyes who plays mother is to blame as she was animated and enthusiastic enough. The bigger problem was they just did not give her enough funny lines and/or scenarios. The dead mother really should have been the highlight shouldn’t she? She is not. Ed’s romantic interest, Storm (more of a strong breeze than a storm if you ask me) played by Sam Jenkins also does not get any particularly funny bits. She is awful pretty, but is rather a non-entity. There is very little horror outside of the resurrection of Ed’s dead mother and one death scene which we don’t get to see. Even the laughs are a clean affair. I guess I was hoping for something a little darker. The love story was unnecessary and the ending is terribly corny. Ed and his Dead Mother gave me enough laughs to warrant a bit more than a pass but consider it a light recommendation at best.

ed and his dead mother

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#9 NECRONOMICON
Directed By: Christophe Gans, Shûsuke Kaneko, Brian Yuzna

Necronomicon is an anthology of three stories based loosely on the writing of H.P. Lovecraft. The wraparound story even features Lovecraft as a character played by Jeffrey Combs. The Drowned is directed by Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Silent Hill) and is visually appealing but has the weakest story of the trio. The story focuses on Edward de Lapoer who inherits an old mansion. Edward finds the diary of the relative who left him the home that tells the story of how he resurrected his dead wife and son. The flashback portion is well done and was full of promise. Unfortunately the latter half is mainly Edward and it is a stone cold drag. It does have a rather nice looking creature however. The second story is The Cold directed by Shûsuke Kaneko (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack) and had a pretty good story but lacked a little in the visual department. This story focuses on Dr. Madden who discovered the secret to eternal life and the young woman who inadvertently becomes involved with him. The performance from the excellent David Warner is what makes this segment stand out. I wasn’t crazy about the choice of Emily for the woman in his life. Emily seemed far too young and was not terribly charismatic. There is no chemistry between the two whatsoever. The Cold is a flawed but fairly entertaining tale. Whispers is the best of the trilogy and has a decent story and pretty nifty visuals. Whispers was directed by Brian Yuzna (Society, Bride of Re-Animator, The Dentist, Progeny, Return of the Living Dead III) who also directed the wraparound story. A pregnant cop’s lover/partner is pulled from their car after an accident. She pursues the perpetrator unaware that she is entering into an unimaginable world of nightmarish horror! This segment has some blood, gore and nice looking effects; a creepy atmosphere too. The story is paper thin but it serves its purpose. Necronomicon is flawed right, left and center. Each segment has its strengths and weaknesses but none of them knocked my socks off. Necronomicon did not take up much of my time and it definitely had its moments but the anthology as a whole package is just a touch better than mediocre. To read the full review click here.

necronomicon

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#8 THE WASHING MACHINE
Directed By: Ruggero Deodato

There were still a few of the old school Italian directors churning out films in the 90s. The output from Italy was considerably slimmer than its heydays of the 60s, 70s and 80s and the quality was not what it once was. Nonetheless this is the first of three Italian entries on my top ten list for 1993. In a stronger year, a film I rated 3/5 would not make a top ten, but in 1993 The Washing Machine was one of the year’s stronger titles. The Washing Machine is the story of Maria, Vida and Ludmilla; three sisters who find a dead man in their washing machine. When the handsome Inspector Alexander Stacev shows up to investigate however there is no dead body to be found. An inspector who doesn’t have a case is nonetheless intrigued by the three sisters and their claims. Each sister attempts to frame the other for a crime that may not have even been committed. Inspector Stacev doesn’t seem too put off by each woman’s attempt to seduce him either. The Washing Machine is sex and nudity served with a side of murder. There is lots and lots of nudity. Frankly, it is far too light on the killing. It is also pretty light on story and some of the scenes drag badly. I do not know that I really understood the women’s motivation when it was all over. The final scene did give me a serious chuckle though. These are three sexy and saucy women, and I won’t deny despite its problems the film has its intriguing moments. The trio of bodacious babes and their handsome inspector were quite watchable.

the washing machine

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#7 THE UNTOLD STORY
Directed By: Danny Lee & Herman Yau

The Untold Story is about Wong Chi Hang who has recently acquired The Eight Immortals Restaurant thanks to a gambling debt. The gambling debt is merely Hang’s motivation to kill which we witness in the films opening scene when he beats the crap out of a man and sets him on fire watching him burn alive. Hang is in fact a psychotic killer. I should mention also, he is using corpses for meat in his popular pork buns! Apparently this is a horror comedy. I get the horror part but I can not say I found The Untold Story particularly funny. There really is nothing funny about the Wong Chi Hang character. He is an unfriendly, self-righteous, crooked, violent prick. The laughs I guess are supposed to come from the inept police. The chief of police has a weakness for the ladies, or more specifically for prostitutes, but he is the only one who seems to have any brains. The three male cops are always insulting the lone female cop about needing to get laid and having small tits. As the viewer we are ten steps ahead of the cops. When the cops finally do catch up and figure out Hang is the guilty party they can not get him to confess. The cops end up torturing the hell out of Hang. Hang’s confession of how he eliminated the former owner of The Eight Immortals Restaurant and his family is truly chilling and horrific. I wasn’t terribly amused by the comedy; the mix of comedy and violence was awkward and a bit discomforting. I have to admit that I found the hideous Wong Chi Hang story (apparently based on real events?!) brutal, grotesque but thoroughly intriguing. It superseded the cop shit. The violence is very nasty and heartless and hugely memorable. I knew of Anthony Wong and had seen him in the odd thing, but it would seem he was a bigger name than I realized. This is at least the fifth film I’ve seen him in from the decade and Wong has played a creepilious creep in every last one. He is frightfully good at playing creeps. I almost feel a little guilty about enjoying The Untold Story as it really is a nasty and ugly little film. But what can I say? Anthony Wong rocks!

the untold story

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#6 THE DARK HALF
Directed By: George A. Romero

The Dark Half is based on the book by Stephen King and is directed by George A. Romero. The story is about Thad Beaumont who as a child had a tumor removed from his brain that contained pieces of his unborn twin. Thad grows up and gets married and has twins of his own and life is honky dory; until he is blackmailed. Thad has been writing a series of popular violent crime novels under the name George Stark. Instead of giving in to the blackmailing bastard Thad discusses it with his publisher and they go to the press themselves. Thad has buried George Stark for good but Stark apparently does not much care for being dead. Thad, by sheer will materializes George Stark in to an actual walking, talking, murdering entity. The Dark Half introduces some ideas that are not followed through and some of the action felt a touch redundant but the story is intriguing, the acting is good, the effects are decent and there are some effective moments of horror. The Dark Half is flawed by entertaining. To read the full review click here.

the dark half

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#5 TRAUMA
Directed By: Dario Argento

Dario Argento’s Trauma is the second Italian made entry to find a place on my top ten list for 1993. As far as I am aware, Trauma is the only title Argento filmed in the USA; Minnesota to be specific. It is also the first film he directed to star his daughter Asia (there would be several more). The story is about Aura Petrescu, a young woman who along with David Parsons, her newly acquired love interest set out to investigate the murder of her parents. The acting is pretty decent with memorable turns from Piper Laurie, Frederic Forrest, James Russo and Brad Dourif. The two characters really in focus here are Aura and David. As Aura, Argento manages to garner some empathy and is quite likable and Christopher Rydell is also amiable enough; but a lack of chemistry does work against both characters. Don’t let the whole filmed in the USA thing turn you off, this is distinctly European and has Argento’s stamp all over it. Argento’s always impressive eye for detail and creative shots are fully intact. I always enjoy a good death scene that takes place in the snow or rain and Argento includes some really lovely oppressive and bleak rain scenes that are very effective. While there is not as much gore as other Argento films it does have a few very nice set pieces to rave about. With a killer known as the Headhunter you can rest assured people do lose their heads and that is always fun! With Tom Savini on board to take care of the makeup effects you know you are in good hands. Trauma is not without flaws, but I really don’t understand the hate out there for this film. Trauma is a compelling horror thriller; visually alluring, atmospheric and a rather underappreciated Giallo.

trauma

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#4 BODY MELT
Directed By: Philip Brophy

Body Melt is a satirical look at the big business of fitness in the late 80s and early 90s. It is a hilariously gross horror-comedy oozing with bodily fluids. Vimuville is a health spa that is marketing a new line of vitamins. They have chosen the good people of Pebbles Court in Homesville to be part of their experiment. Their experiments spare no one; kids, pregnant women, business men. Bodies melt, explode, implode and sometimes tentacles come crawling out and placentas attack and kill husbands. Side effects will include severe hallucinations and death! There is even a mutant family subplot. Body Melt has it all! It is completely bananas. Body Melt is a cheap, cheesy, cheeky, funny flick full of free flowing body fluids and a delightfully vile horror-comedy that should appeal to fans of low-budget and low-brow schlock. To read the full review click here.

body melt

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#3 RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III
Directed By: Brian Yuzna

I am a huge fan of Dan O’Bannon’s 1985 film The Return of the Living Dead. I think it is one of the best horror comedies ever and it has long held a position on my top 100 favourite horror movies of all time. Unlike the original, Return of the Living Dead III is not a horror-comedy but rather straight up horror served with a side of love story. Love stories in horror films are generally a big turnoff in my book; but in Return of the Living Dead III it actually works. Return of the Living Dead III has very little in common with the first two films, but don’t let that turn you off. Return of the Living Dead III is a sequel that can be enjoyed on its own merit. To impress Julie the girl he loves, Curt steels his father’s security key card. Curt’s pop is a high ranking Colonel working on a top secret project at a nearby military base. Julie and Curt sneak in one night and witness what appears to be a dead man being brought back to life. The couple leaves the facility undetected. Later that same evening Colonel dad informs Curt that he has been transferred and they will be leaving at the end of the week. Curt decides to runaway with Julie and start a new life. Unfortunately they are in a motorcycle accident and Julie is killed. Faster than you can say “I didn’t see that coming” Curt has Julie inside the military facility and abracadabra Julie is back from the dead. I really can’t say enough about the awesome effects and makeup in Return of the Living Dead III! The zombies are all nasty, creative and grotesque and the gore effects are beautiful. Watch out for giraffe neck zombie…he was fan-freaking-tastic!! Practical effects this good should be applauded. Return of the Living Dead III has excellent action sequences, intensity, great effects, beauty gore and a stand out performance from Melinda Clarke who plays Julie. Return of the Living Dead III is a very entertaining zombie flick. To read the full review click here.

return of the living dead III

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#2 DARK WATERS
Directed By: Mariano Baino

The final Italian entry on my top ten is Mariano Baino’s excellent Dark Waters; sadly the only full-length feature film from the director thus far. Dark Waters is the story of Elizabeth whom embarks on a journey to investigate a remote convent. After the recent death of her father Elizabeth learns he had been sending significant amounts of money to this convent. The haunting stone fortress cut off from the world is an intimidating place and the convent’s nuns are cold and unfriendly but nonetheless allow Elizabeth to stay. Elizabeth begins to experience relenting and horrifying nightmares and soon uncovers the convents secrets which relate to her own past. Elizabeth finds out that some secrets are best left undiscovered. Dark Waters is a visceral experience that leaves a lasting impression. The island is the most beautifully unappealing, bleak, desolate and godforsaken place you can possibly imagine. The nuns are a grim and acidic bunch led by a blind and particularly salty Mother Superior. They make no attempt to help Elizabeth find her answers with the exception of one young nun named Sarah. Mariano Baino makes the most of the sublimely perfect setting. Dark Waters pitch perfect atmosphere is beautifully complimented by Elizabeth’s terrifying nightmares. It is clear that director Mariano Baino was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Wait until you get a glimpse of the creature. Unfortunately, you do get only a glance, and I must admit I desired to see more. The use of candles and the various other religiously-oriented props are superb and enhance every last shot in the film. There are some genuinely creepy scenes of nuns featuring burning crosses and the like, and anyone who digs badass nuns will be thrilled. Louise Salter is very good as Elizabeth; I hoped for her survival; although things never look very promising for her character. My only complaint really is the ending felt a bit rushed, but by no means was it unsatisfying. Dark Waters is a gorgeously filmed, well-acted atmospheric horror film with some truly terrifying moments. Mariano Baino needs to make another film!

dark waters

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#1 CRONOS
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

Cronos was the first full-length feature film from Mexican director Guillermo del Toro and it is a hell of a debut! Cronos remains to this day one of the most unique cinematic entries in the vampire mythos. Jesus Gris is a kind elderly man who owns an antique shop. He finds a gold scarab hidden inside a hollowed out archangel which affixes itself to his skin and injects him with a needle. Soon after he realizes the scarab stab has given him new vigor and begins to knock years from his age. Meanwhile, an eccentric dying man named De la Guardia has been collecting information about the very same golden scarab and has purchased several archangels to find it. De la Guardia with the help of his thug nephew Angel will stop at nothing to acquire it. The Scarab device is 450 years old when Jesus finds it; the creation of an alchemist searching for eternal life. The inner workings of the device which are detailed in a particularly excellent scene features a living insect fitted with internal clockwork. Pretty intricate, and amazing. Of course there is always a price to pay for eternal life and in the case of Cronos it comes in the form of an overwhelming desire for blood. Jesus Gris is a good man, but even he can not fight the lure of eternal life! The visuals in the film are really quite impressive and del Toro makes the most of the limited budget with flare and style. There are some really great effects in Cronos. There is a bit of blood and gore too. What really elevates Cronos are the characterizations and the performances. I can’t say enough good things about the charming Federico Luppi who plays Jesus. He is the most sympathetic and likable blood sucker ever. He has a genuinely sweet relationship with his granddaughter Aurora, who is an adorable and absolutely delightful little thing. Claudio Brook who plays De la Guardia is also outstanding and his eccentric brute of a nephew played by Ron Perlman steals every scene he is in. There were a few questionable plot points but they have little effect on the overall picture. Cronos is a well made, original, atmospheric, funny, dark, beautifully acted and effective horror film well worth a viewing (and multiple viewings at that!).

cronos

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