Sunday, October 03, 2010
Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
I had a very vague memory of this movie, having seen it only once and that in about 1976, so for all intents and purposes it was new to me. I did recall that there was an extended sword fight near the end, and there is.
The basic plot is that the Captain (Horst Janson) is a professional vampire hunter who travels with his hunchbacked friend Grost (John Cater). Kronos is called to a small village by an old friend and there he and Grost, joined by a young woman (Caroline Munroe) they rescued from a roadside pillory, hunt for the killer of several local women. (This being a Hammer film, the victims are rarely males.)
Watching this movie so soon after seeing The Brotherhood of the Wolf, I have to wonder if Wolf director Christopher Gans had been influenced by Kronos. I noted in my review of Wolf that there were certain elements of the spaghetti western to Wolf and there are to the much earlier Kronos as well. Horst Janson seems to be doing his best 'man with no Name' glower throughout the film and also spends a lot time smoking slender cheroots just like Clint Eastwood. Wolf's blond hero seems rather similar to Kronos' blond protagonist at times.
I also wondered at certain similarities between the hunchback tactician and weapons man Grost and the monk who performs much the same function played by David Wenham in Van Helsing. Wenham does a funny voice throughout Van Helsing and it's amazingly like that of the hunchback, Grost. I understand that Captain Kronos is something of a cult film now, so I suppose it wouldn't be odd for it to influence later films and Van Helsing IS a movie about a professional monster hunter.
Anyway, I found the plot of Kronos to be a little muddy and the actors seem to just wander around a lot before things pick up near the end of the film. The big sword duel at the end holds up pretty well in terms of choreography, though the camera angles could have been better. There are some good plot twists, though sharp eyed viewers may see a couple of them coming. This film was made about the same time as The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Caroline Munroe, who starred in that one as well, looks cute, though she seems to spend an inordinate amount of time with her hair hanging in her face.
Captain Kronos was rated R at the time of release, but would probably get a PG13 today. The blood and gore is pretty mild, as are the love scenes between Janson and Munroe.
One thing I did like about this one is that the Vampire isn't the classical Dracula sort. It has no trouble moving about in daylight and it doesn't drain the blood from the victims but rather drains their life forces, leaving them old and withered. Before Bram Stoker cemented the idea of the vampire in modern fiction, various folklore attributed other powers and weaknesses to vampires. At one point in Kronos, Grost tells another character that there are as many types of vampires as there are any other type of predator and they can't all be killed in the same way. Finding the weakness of this particular vampire and the vampires it spawns is one of the plot points in Kronos.
All and all I enjoyed Captain Kronos. If you have fond memories of the old Hammer Horror films and enjoy a little swashbuckling, you'll probably have fun with it too. I get the idea that Hammer hoped to spin Kronos off into a series as they gave him his own logo and the ending certainly hints at possible sequels. I've also heard rumors that a remake is on the horizon.