Directed and written by Guillermo del Toro
Produced by Arthur Gorson, Bertha Navarro, Francisco Murguía, Bernard L. Nussbaumer, Alejandro Springall, Rafael Cruz, Julio Solórzano Foppa, Jorge Sánchez
Starring Federico Luppi, Margarita Isabel, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook, Tamara Shanath, Daniel Giménez Cacho
Hematophagous cravings are but one of many archetypal symptoms suffered in exchange for perennial life by those who utilize an ovate biomechanical contraption crafted by an alchemist of the early sixteenth-century in Del Toro's handsome, inspired premier picture. In the 1990s, the respective ages of a meticulous antiques dealer (Luppi) who discovers the sanguineous device and his cute niece (Isabel) are contrasted, as is their affectionate relationship to that of a moribund and hermitically sequestrated industrialist (Brook) fixated on his prospective acquisition of the widget and his brutish, churlish nephew (Perlman), who loathes this senior patron yet acts as his proxy for a fulsome inheritance that'll fund the rhinoplasty for which he longs. At his first directorial post, Del Toro neither pulled punches nor stretched dollars; this bloody, beautifully shot, consistently engrossing variation on vampirism was produced with a professionalism evidencing its $2M budget (a record high for a Mexican production in '93). Transmutation realized by the expert application of marvelously macabre makeup effects and gallows humor alike here underscore the inhumanity of immortality: that titular instrument enables interminable subsistence, but only subject to its user's irrevocable forfeiture of their humanity.