I rewatched Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos this week and was once again captivated by the sophisticated and refreshing take on the vampire myth. The story is strange and lovely, at once a tale of a girl’s abiding love for her grandfather and a treatise on man’s desperate aversion to the inexorable passage of time. Del Toro directed the film, his first feature, when he was just 29 years old. The stylish production is startlingly assured for a first time director in his 20s; the film is deliberately paced at a perfect 94 minutes, the visuals lush and baroque while reveling in gloriously gory makeup effects and the old GDT standard: weirdly beautiful cogs-and-gears machine work.
But what stands out most about Cronos is its originality. Del Toro made a vampire movie in 1993 that is utterly unlike any vamp flick that’s come before or after. He wrote a screenplay that subverts a century of vampire lore without coming across as if he were trying too hard to do just that. Of del Toro’s directing career, his three best films come from his own original screenplays: Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. Naturally, I love Hellboy and Blade II and even The Golden Army, but those films—whose del Toro-penned screenplays were all adaptations of existing works—lack the tender, haunting, imaginative touch he brings to his original scripts.
In his recent, fully awesome profile in The New Yorker, del Toro talks about the three upcoming films to which he is varying levels of attached: Frankenstein, The Haunted Mansion and of course, At the Mountains of Madness. Clearly, I’d love to see del Toro tackle Mary Shelley and H.P. Lovecraft (and…Disneyland?). It’s impossible to not be elated at the prospect of a Guillermo-does-Lovecraft flick with a “hard R rating,” and he’s sure to supplement the original Lovecraftian plot with the keen character insights and twisty perspective that we’ve come to expect from a del Toro film. But after he gets those projects under his belt (and I’d be fine if he just forgoes The Haunted Mansion entirely), I’m ready to see him undertake another completely original screenplay. The man has proven that he can create a stunningly grotesque universe rife with resonant characters and unexpected action; so get to creating already, dude.
You can read more from Meredith at www.dannyisnthere.com