Forget Van Helsing. Captain Kronos is the great swashbuckling vampire hunter. Hard-faced Horst Janson is the brooding Kronos, a rangy, sword-wielding soldier who hunts the vampire scourge with his jovial hunchbacked partne... more »r, Grost (John Cater), and his earthy peasant girl lover, hazelnut eyed beauty Caroline Munro. Director-writer Brian Clemens, who so entertainingly put genres in the blender on the TV series The Avengers, imaginatively rewrites vampire lore from the film's haunting first scene: a shrouded, shadowy predator (looking more like death incarnate than a traditional vampire) drains a comely maiden of her very youth, leaving the girl an aged, wizened husk. Clemens lacks the budget and the cinematic snap to bring his visual ideas to full fruition, but his well-wrought characters, inspired ideas, and swashbuckling swordfights make this entertaining reinterpretation of the vampire movie a cult classic. --Sean Axmaker« less
Karen Shaub | the inner reaches of the outer limits | 10/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By 1974 Hammer Films was in its death throes, its films had become formulaic--boring and predicatable. Their vampire films in particular were suffering from severe anemia despite copious amounts of blood being spilled, and not even the savage, arrogant charisma of Christoper Lee seemed capable of rescuing the Dracula films from certain death at the box office. It was at this point that Hammer finally decided to change its approach. Toward this end they hired Brian Clemens, best known for his work on television's AVENGERS, to "revamp" the genre. The film he created was CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER, possibly the freshest, most creative vampire film to ever grace the genre. It completely re-thought the entire concept of the vampire, taking him out of the drawing room that Bela Lugosi had been limited to and away from the image of the revenge seeking, magnetic animal Christopher Lee frequently portrayed. His vampires (for this film was to have been the FIRST of a series of films) would be of many types, almost as if they were each of a different species. They would each "live" in a different manner, survive by taking different things from their victims, be detected in different ways, and be destroyed by totally different means as well. How cool is that?! In addition to having a good old fashioned monster movie of sorts we are also given a new type of monster movie that includes a mystery to be unraveled.
CAPTAIN KRONOS begins with the arrival of our titular hero (portrayed by Horst Jansen)who sports a Japanese katana,and his hunchbacked assistant/mentor Professor Hieronymos Grost (John Cater). They are seeking the village of Durward having been summoned by Kronos' old friend Dr. Marcus after some very strange deaths occurred in the village. Along the way they encounter the luscious Carla (Caroline Munro), a naughty gypsy girl whom Kronos frees from the stocks. Her crime? Dancing on Sunday. Of course she joins them, which is handy since they will need her for vampire bait later in the story. Marcus quickly fills our intrepid duo of vampire hunters in on the killer's modus operandi; it seems that young girls have suddenly been drained of their youth and left to die of old age, with only the slightest trace of blood upon their lips! This is a killer who seems to have no respect either for crosses or, as we soon learn, churchs themselves since one of the next girls meets her doom within the supposed safety of a church's walls. There are still more deaths as Kronos and Grost lay traps devised from Grost's knowledge of ancient folklore in an effort to determine the vampire's identity. Since this vampire steals youth itself from its victims rather than blood, they must seek out someone who has a "cheek with a bloom on it".
CAPTAIN KRONOS is one of the few 34 year old films that plays as well today as it did when it was initially released. One reason was the addition of the swordplay scenes which were choreographed by William Hobbs who also choreographed the 1974 Richard Lester version of THE THREE MUSKETEERS. The fight between Hobbs and Jansen pitted katana against a fencing foil and had a wonderfully, messy, realistic look to the action. The use of the katana was no doubt intended to capitalize on the new-found popularity of Asian martial arts films in the west. Hammers' own co-production with Shaw Brothers THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES was released in 1974 as well. Another reason was the film's absolute break from the traditional Hammer/Hollywood vamps whose vampire "lore" had been established primarily by Bram Stoker in his novel and which had been taken as gospel ever since. Instead Clemens has given us something unique and completely original. This is a vampire film based on folklore rather than a Victorian novel, some of the lore is real some of it "reel". The influences of its ground breaking storyline can still be seen today in BLADE and BUFFY and their ilk where for better or worse vampires and their eternal foes have evolved into the 21st century and perhaps fallen into their own brand new cliches. While we may occasionally long for a good old fashioned Victorian romp a la Cushing and Lee, I still live for the day that I might walk into a movie and see something as stunningly original as CAPTAIN KRONOS was in 1974.
This film unfortunately failed upon its initial release for reasons I can't fathom. Its recent release on dvd seems to have enabled it to finally have found its audience however, and its about time. But its far too late to do us any good. There will never be a series of CAPTAIN KRONOS films as Brian Clemens had intended, and all I can say is what a loss. If you haven't seen it, pick up a copy and give it a chance. The photography and sets are excellent and the film simply oozes vintage Hammer in that respect. The actors are all at their peak--Jansen, who looks like a taller, blonder Roman Polanski, was dubbed even though his English was supposedly more than acceptable--I defy you to notice the dub job. There is virtually no violence, the "killing blow" is delivered via a kiss, and even less gore. But there are a great many wonderful touches that more than compensate for this. And best of all the script and direction by Brian Clemens couldn't be better--with THE AVENGERS on one's resume, what would you expect?
Come on, give it a try! "
Indiana Jones Meets Vampire Slayer In This Fun Hammer Film!
Scotman | Mt. Shasta, CA | 07/20/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I admit not knowing a lot of the history of the making of this film, but I must say I never had so much fun watching another one of Hammer's over the top vampire films.
Director Brian Clemens both wrote and directed this unusual take on vampirism. As explained in the film, there are various species of vampire and they don't all die by the same method. The stake & cross & garlic only work on the bloodsuckers, such as Dracula-types.
Kronos (Horst Janson) needs to polish off a vampire that sucks the youth from the bones of comely young women of the village as they blithely pick flowers and frolic in the streams. The fun comes when Kronos and his hunchbacked friend are searching for ways to kill this particular vampire.
Unfortunately one of his best friends from the war, a surgeon by the name of Dr. Marcus, gets infected with the 'sucking the life force' type vamps. After several attempts of hanging, stabbing and so on, he stumbles onto the solution.
Also joining our gang is a very young and sexy Carla, who was being pilloried for dancing on a Sunday. Can you imagine? Played in a cheesy, sexy style by Bond girl Caroline Monroe, she adds some romance and attractiveness to the film. And she acts as bait!
Not to give a lot away, but I was impressed with several things:
The script was peppered with lines like: He knows as much about vampirism as you can fit into a flea's codpiece!" Hilarious!
The tough guys in the bar looking for a fight but no match for Captain Kronos!
The photography was awesome as well (to use an overused word). Clemens use of framing and shadow were reminiscent of horror films of the silent era, as suspense and horror are built through the haunting melodies of Laurie Johnson. Great soundtrack.
The film struck my attention in the first place because of a comment made by Blade writer David Goyer that Captain Kronos was the first film to delve into different species of vampire and how this film had inspired him to create Blade (as well as from the comic book by Marvel). Let's concentrate on the vampire hunter rather than the vampire.
Hey, perhaps Stephanie Meyer's Twilight vamps are a different species too, who sparkle in the sunlight and play baseball? But I digress!
The only real cons in the film are the clearly low-budget constraints of the film by Hammer. The fight scenes were not all that realistic but were fun to watch. The leg kicks miss by a mile and yet you hear the Thud or the Wham of the hit.
And of course having Caroline Monroe take her clothes off is worth the price of admission (joking, sort of).
Please see this film! It has blood, sex, swordplay and a little cheese in this great, original 1970s Hammer classic.
Other Great Hammer Classics:
The Icons of Suspense Collection: Hammer Films (Stop Me Before I Kill! / Cash on Demand / The Snorkel / Maniac / Never Take Candy from a Stranger / These Are the Damned) Hammer Horror Series (Brides of Dracula / Curse of the Werewolf / Phantom of the Opera (1962) / Paranoiac / Kiss of the Vampire / Nightmare / Night Creatures / Evil of Frankenstein)
One of the best vampire movies ever!
John Lindsey | Socorro, New Mexico USA. | 06/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
In the English countryside, there has been bizarre murders of ladies and a few men dying in a village nearby with their lips in blood and looked like they aged prematurely to being old. It's the work of a vampire who does not suck blood but drains energy/lifeforces/youth instead of blood who has been terrorizing the village, it's up to a doctor named Marcus (John Carson) to call upon a famed vampire killer named Kronos (Horst Janson) with hump-backed assistant Grost (John Cater) as together with a lovely gypsy woman Carla (Caroline Munro) they must track down and fight these soul-sucking vampires or else the village will be drained.
One of the best vampire movies of all time and one of Hammer's greatest hits! this UK production is a very original and outstanding vampire movie. This one features energy vampires or Psi-vampires (a.k.a. Psychic vampires) who drain people of energy rather than blood even though blood does play a little part as this kind of vampire showed up in movies like "Lifeforce", "Sleepwalkers" and some other ones. They are creature usually found in Asian to Japanese mythology but a few in European vampire legends besides the more common bloodsucking sunburning kind as these Psi-vampires can walk in the daylight and cast reflections.
The performances are very good and the film is loaded with action including a unique way of killing a Psi-vampire instead of the old way. Miss Munro is quite sexy here as usual, the film even paved the way for modern vampire hunter movies like the Vampire Hunter D series to Blade to even Van Helsing and most importantly the TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I highly recommend this movie, it's one of my favorite vampire movies of all time.
This DVD does have a good widescreen transfer with the only extras being an audio commentary. "
One of Hammer's Best!
Monty Moonlight | TX | 08/17/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In approximately the 17th century, fearless and dashing vampire hunter Captain Kronos is summoned to a small village by an old friend to discover and destroy a new breed of vampiric killer. With him, he brings his faithful assistant, the kind and intelligent, hunchbacked Professor Grost, and a comely gypsy girl named Carla he rescued from the stocks along the way. The trio go about their dangerous business confidently but cautiously, as this breed of youth-sucking vampire is so different that its weaknesses are as much a mystery as its identity.
In 1974, Hammer Studios, the legendary house that brought Christopher Lee's Dracula and Peter Cushing's Frankenstein to the screen, decided it was time to shake up their style a bit and turned to writer/director Brian Clemens for a new take on the vampire movie. What he gave them was "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter", one of the best films the studio would produce and one of the most unique and enjoyable period vampire films around. Despite poor box office returns, Kronos has deservedly become a cult classic since its release. The film was just too good to deny, with its swashbuckling, super-cool hero and unconventional vampire plot. It's not surprising that Kronos reminds one a bit of a Tarantino film at times. This Spaghetti Western-esque vampire flick is actually a fave of the American director and many other filmmakers today. The performances, visuals, music, and script are all fantastic, and it's a shame the film did not hit it big, as sequels were definitely part of the plan for this Bond style slayer/lover. But, alas, all we managed to get was this single, excellent film, so we must make the best of it. If you're a fan of films like Seven Samurai, Vampire Hunter D, Kill Bill, From Dusk Till Dawn, Clint Eastwood westerns, and even appreciate the non-CGI aspects of "Van Helsing", along with Hammer's other long line of great horror flicks, you should be able to get some big enjoyment from "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter".
The DVD itself isn't much to get thrilled about, aside from having the enhanced widescreen movie itself. Bonus features are limited to a commentary with the writer/director, female lead, and a genre historian. A trailer would have been nice to get too. Still, it's great to have this movie on DVD, and having a commentary track too is also very cool. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up before you grab any other vampire movies. There are several good ones out there, but Kronos is among the best."
A Different, Inventive Kind Of Vampire Film
Craig Connell | Lockport, NY USA | 11/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've only seen a couple of Hammer horror films, but I'm impressed. They seem to be subtly effective if you're looking for a few thrills and chills, not overdoing the gore, being mild on the language but yet having a definite edge to them.
"Captain Kronos" isn't super but it's enjoyable. The direction is excellent, the DVD transfer looked nice, and - like a good mystery - there's a good twist at the end regarding the murderer, er.....vampire. For us guys, there are also a lot of pretty women in here, too. The acting isn't the best but who cares? It's entertaining, and not made to be taken seriously.
I enjoyed the team of "Captain Kronos and Professor Hieronymous-Grost," and I'm surprised there wasn't a sequel. These two guys make a good team: Horst Janson as the younger, dashing swordsman, and John Cater as the older assistant. The latter provides a little comic relief, too. Their relationship reminded me a bit of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce at "Holmes and Watson."
The good captain is not your normal vampire hunter. He's just as anxious to get it on with the ladies, and he has a sexy one for a partner in Caroline Munro as "Carla." Kronos also smokes "herbal" cigars! The brief touches of comedy, western, swashbuckling, horror, mystery, romance, sex, supernatural, and who-knows-what else all make it an inventive and fun hour-and-a-half. Hey, it even gives God several good plugs! This horror movie is different, all right. "