Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974)
I remember being about nine or ten years old, and my Dad telling me he’d stayed up late watching a vampire film the night before. In it, the vampire hunters buried toads in the ground as a way to detect the undead. Fast forward to my late teens, and I saw this very scene was part of Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter. That was pretty exciting, in a very nerdy way!
This film from Hammer studios was something of a departure, as they investigated ways to breathe new life into their usual formula. Brian Clemens of television’s Avengers fame took on writing and directing duties; adding numerous flourishes to refresh the vampire mythology.
Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) is the hero of the piece, roaming Europe with his companion Professor Grost (John Cater) and beautiful Carla (Caroline Munro) to rid the land of the undead. They receive a call for help from old friend Dr Marcus (John Carson), whose village is plagued by a strange form of vampirism. There follows a hybrid of classic Gothic Hammer horror and swashbuckling adventure, that is full to the brim with novel ideas and variations on traditional vampire folklore.
Originally planned as the first in a series, unfortunately this was not to be. Changing tastes in horror films led to a decline in the traditional Hammer approach; the studios waning success meant that Kronos was a one-off. It’s a great shame, as the new approach really pays off. It’s almost a prototype for Blade (or even the disastrous Van Helsing).
One of my favourite Hammer films, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter has everything you could want. The level of detail with regard to vampire lore and the new twist on the familiar are just some of the films strengths. This film is a true classic and should be enjoyed by all!
Furthermore, I usually hate sequels and remakes – but Captain Kronos would be a great franchise to rise from the dead. Apparently Tarantino is a fan. Now that would be interesting…
Did I mention that the stunning Caroline Munro appears in this film? Here’s some proof…