Here is the vampire movie that you have been looking for. Maybe you did not realize that you were, but it is a fact that will soon be made apparent after you watch this film. Why do you need to see this? Maybe because it features more than just your normal, everyday, average take on the vampire mythos. Perhaps because it features a vampire hunter who will remind you of Clint Eastwood or Franco Nero with his cool, calm, take no prisoners attitude. And his name is Kronos as well, one of the coolest names ever. Or it could be simply for the fact that it is much more sophisticated than most of the vampire films out there and also features sword fights. Yes, vampires fighting with swords! Well… at least one anyway. And the worst thing about this picture is that it leaves you wanting more once it is all said and done. There is no sequel to this film, and while there might have been if Hammer had not gone and gotten itself into trouble in the seventies, you cannot help but wonder what Kronos might have gotten himself mixed up in next should it have continued onwards.
As it is, Kronos has come to town at the request of a friend to investigate a bunch of strange killings that finds the young women who are dying, aged prematurely. Along the way, Kronos also happens to rescue a buxom young lass who decides to keep him company on his journeys. Arriving in town, Kronos reveals to his friend Marcus that it is a vampire who is the culprit and that yes, he will take care of it. So it is that Kronos, his hunchback friend Grost and his newer friend Carla, begin their troubled hunt amid many obstacles.
Captain Kronos would turn out to be a great film for many reasons, one of them being Horst Janson as our reluctant hero. Janson is the perfect leading man material being young, handsome and very sure of himself and it translates to Kronos, who is a very confident man, perhaps a bit too much at times, but it is simply because he is determined. Having lost his mother and his sister and having to end their lives by his own hand, he realizes that vampires are a scourge and nobody else should have to go through what he went through. Throughout the film, Kronos really draws your eye as you cannot help but wonder what he will do at any given moment, not simply because of the situation, but because he has an air of mystery about him. It is that air of the unknown that keeps you focused on the movie, though it is not the only reason as you also want to see just how he will go about defeating these vampires.
A hero cannot travel alone all of the time though, and joining Kronos on this journey is his dearest friend Grost, played by John Cater and the beautiful Caroline Munro as Carla. They add a nice dynamic to the film, Grost as the somewhat subtle comedic relief and Munro as the damsel in distress. Grost and Kronos seem to have an easy friendship and it is nice to see them play off of each other throughout the film. Once Carla enters the picture through a fortunate rescue, her presence is not enough to change things between the comrades luckily as such things are wont to do, though a little sexual tension starts to rear its head between she and Kronos. One of the more interesting parts of the film is when Grost and Kronos try to kill Dr. Marcus played by John Carson, who after being turned, begs them for death. It is morbidly humorous to see the pair keep trying different methods until finally discovering how to kill the man by accident.
It is sad to think that this film could have spawned a series and continued on if Hammer had survived their financial troubles. Bringing together the best qualities of the vampire genre, the swashbuckling action of the Three Musketeers and Solomon Kane, the film literally has it all. The villains are villainous and quite frightening to boot with their low-key, yet powerful presence, especially during the big finale. There are some great action sequences and some fantastic shots from cinematographer Ian Wilson who really brings out the best in the film to add to the excitement. Brian Clemens, both writer and director, does an amazing and innovative job in creating a new vampiric vision for the studio. After years of the same old vampires and situations, Clemens sets a new course and it is quite welcome. What is really interesting to note is that Lady Duward mentions she is a Karnstein, making this an unofficial fourth film of the Karnstein series of vampire movies. Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter was definitely one of Hammer’s best outings by far at this point in time and a perfect blend of all the things that made the studio great.
5 out of 5