Movie Review: Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1973)

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Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1973)
Directed by Brian Clemens
Starring Horst Jansen, Caroline Munro, John Carson, Shane Briant, John Cater, Lois Daine, and Ian Hendry.

Trying to come up with a new series with a different kind of twist to it, Hammer gave us a swash-buckling vampire hunter. This is not your ordinary vampire movie, or vampires for that matter, as Kronos and his faithful companion Prof. Grost, travel the countryside seeking out and destroying vampires, in all of their varying guises. They are called on by an old friend for help. It seems that some of the local girls are being found basically drained of their youth, left dead as an old withering hag. But what is underneath the black cloak that stalks them?

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This was a new departure for Hammer, who was desperately trying to hold on to their audience at that time. Brian Clemens, who had come up with the crazy idea for Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, came up with the concept of putting a new twist on the vampire mythology that Hammer had been using since 1957, hoping to start a new series of films. It is a period piece, but not the usual gothic one since most of the action here takes place in broad daylight. Unfortunately, the film didn’t take off like everyone hoped. Shame too, since this could have been interesting to see where they would it.

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Playing the title character was played by German actor Horst Janson, who was basically an unknown but fit the part perfectly. He wasn’t your normal heroic lead, sort of aloof, but knew what needed to be done and was never afraid to step up. His assistant Grost is played by John Cater who does an excellent job here playing this strange, humpback little man, but one that is highly intelligent. Of course, how could we have a Hammer film without a little of that “Hammer Glamour”? The ever-lovely Caroline Munro takes care of that, in the role of a gypsy girl that Kronos rescues. John Carson, another Hammer favorite of mine, has a small role as Kronos friend. Playing a good character for a change, it was always nice seeing him onscreen. Shane Briant, one of Hammer’s later stars-to-be, has a small role of a young aristocrat. And as usual, his casting is perfect for this odd character. In a small role as a bar bully, is Ian Hendry. While only in a bit part, Hendry makes the most of it, really giving you the chance to hate him while only seeing him for a few minutes, though there are plenty of stories as to why he’s only in the film a short time.

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When this film was finally released on DVD from Paramount, it included an audio commentary with writer/director/producer Clemens, along with Munro. They talk pretty consistently throughout the whole film, going over a lot of details about the film, as far as how it came to be, the actors, working with Hammer, and so much more. A very entertaining and informative commentary.

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If you’re expecting the usually gothic vampire tale then you are going to be disappointed. But if you’re looking for something quite different, unique, and damn entertaining.

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