Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

02/29/2020 13:10

Film: Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

Year: 1974

Director: Brian Clemens

Writer: Brian Clemens

Starring: Horst Janson, John Carson and Shane Briant



This was a movie that I heard about when I first started getting into Hammer Horror Films along with podcasts. I do have to thank Duncan over at the Podcast Under the Stairs as this was selected as part of a Movie Club Challenge and then to the Gateway Film Center for showing this for my second viewing. The synopsis is a master swordsman and former soldier along with his hunchbacked assistant hunt vampires.

For this movie, we start off with a young woman walking through the woods. Something attacks her and she’s left looking very old. This then happens again which brings a man on horseback along with someone in a horse drawn cart. We have Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) with his assistant Grost (John Cater) who is a professor. On their way, they find a woman who is locked in stocks. Her name is Carla (Caroline Munro) and they free her, giving her a ride into the village.

It is there we see Kronos’ presence was requested by Dr. Marcus (John Carson). They served in the war together and he knows that Kronos has some interesting experiences with unexplained phenomena like what is happening here. The two men hear what is happening and know immediately that it is a vampire. Dr. Marcus is skeptical, but Kronos reveals that vampires aren’t just creatures that drink blood. Grost goes on that each species is unique, like the one here as it can walk in the daylight and steals the youth from these young woman.

Kronos, Grost, Dr. Marcus and Carla go about setting up tests to figure out if they are dealing with a vampire. This brings them into interactions with the local nobility of the Durwards. The son is Paul (Shane Briant), daughter Sara (Lois Daine) and their mother Lady Durward (Wanda Ventham). She is irate with Dr. Marcus as she blames him for the death of her husband, who was a renowned soldier.  We also meet the Sorells who are a family of peasants in the area. They’ve already lost a daughter and mother to whatever creature is roaming these woods. Can Kronos and his team figure out what is happening before it is too late?

What I want to lead off here stating is that I was disappointed to see that this is the movie that is credited as the start of the downfall of Hammer Horror during this run they had. It does seem that this movie has gained quite the following after that era, but that it didn’t do the greatest in its time which is a shame. Not to play my hand too early, but I dug what this movie was doing.

The first thing that I liked here is that Hammer was known for taking the classic monsters stories we know and doing different things with them. I’ve said before that coming in I was familiar with their Dracula and Frankenstein adaptations along with a few others, but it is more of the one-offs like this that I’m not at the moment. I actually am bummed that this didn’t do better because I read there was going to be a series of films where we followed Captain Kronos fighting other monsters. After seeing this, it is a shame this didn’t happen as I want that in my life.

Something else that I really like is that Hammer was willing to break the mold of things that they’ve already made. They had a slew of Dracula films where they killed off the vampire in a multitude of ways to try to keep it fresh. This movie expands on that explaining there are different species of vampires and I love this idea. This monster is more of life stealing creature as it is taking the vitality of its victims to make it stay young. Going along with the different kinds, I like that each vampire is unique in the way that it can be destroyed. We get to see Kronos and Grost testing different methods before heading off to face whatever is behind this.

That’s not to say that everything in this movie is great though. I do think that the sword fighting scenes are a bit cheesy if I’m going to be honest. I understand why they are there though. Like we get a stand-off in a bar where we see how great Kronos is as a swordsmen along with him defeating a gang of men thinking that he murdered someone. This is all to culminate in the finale where he has to duel with the master creature who is an impressive swordsman themselves. It is a way to show that both have met their match so I get it.

I will say that this movie isn’t boring though. It runs your normal 91 minutes, but it doesn’t waste any time. We get a cold open of someone getting attacked so it is setting the tone. We get to meet our hero along with his sidekicks. Throughout their investigation, more and more people are dying to build tension. I also like that we get to meet side characters that deepen the story. It is interesting that some think Kronos is behind the deaths, even though they started before he arrived, or they’re trying to prevent him from getting to the truth of the matter. The ending was solid and as I said, I’m bummed this is where is where the character ended.

As for the acting, I think that they all fit for their roles. I did find it interesting to learn that Janson was completely dubbed over due to his thick German accent. I would like to see him in something else to figure out how he sounds. This does well in establishing his back-story, that he’s a broken man and that he’s hunting vampires for a job, but also a bit of a revenge factor as well. Carson is solid as the doctor who is the man of science that needs to come around through seeing the facts of the creatures. Briant does seem like nobility with his uppity attitude. Munro is absolutely beautiful and I like her as this poor village girl who is enamored with Kronos. Cater is good as the sidekick. I feel bad when he’s mocked in the tavern. It is good to see that even though Kronos is cold, he does try to cheer him up. I feel like they are really companions. Daine, Ventham and the rest of the cast rounded this movie out for what was needed. If I can expect one thing from Hammer, it is they’ll find a plethora of beautiful women to round out for what was needed and this didn’t disappoint.

There’s not a lot in the way of effects here, but what we got looks good. I did like that the vampire fangs in this movie are much larger than normal ones. This is a cool concept for the fact that they’re different from the normal vampires we see. It is an interesting touch. The blood doesn’t resemble the normal orange you normally got from earlier Hammer. This is good as it looks more realistic. They do well in the cinematography to find things until the reveal. If I had any negative, it would be the bat that attacks a young girl, but I’ve seen much worse. I’m not going to hold this against the movie for that reason.

Now with that said, I found this to be a solid movie overall. I like what they did with establishing Captain Kronos as a possible franchise type hero. I do wish that would have come to fruition. His back-story is intriguing and establishing as well that they’re different types of creatures from the major ones we know is interesting. I like how this story plays out and the acting with it helps to build toward a satisfying conclusion. There is some cheesiness to it, but you’ll have that. I thought the effects work and the soundtrack fit for what was needed. I found this to be good for sure.


My Rating: 8 out of 10