Monday, January 23, 2012

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter

Captain Kronos (1974)

Recently I told my good friend Taliesin over at his delightful vampire review blog Taliesin Meets The Vampires when he recently reviewed the novel adaptation of the film that this film was the best Non-Dracula Hammer film. His review inspired me to watch this film again and review it for my own blog, but admit now that I must have been remembering this film through rose-tinted glasses as it was total rubbish.

After watching it once more, I can now say what a silly little film this was, and I actually found myself to be laughing out loud a few times. The script was corny, the acting hammy and the fight scenes were hilarious at best.

Kronos, Slayer and Lad.
The film is set in a central European village that has been recently plagued by vampire attacks. But these attacks are not of the usual vampire kind. No bodies were found drained of blood with puncture marks on the neck, but a single bite on the lips, from a kiss that drained all the youth out of the victim. Most victims seemed to defenseless pre-adult girls who were in the bloom of life, thus granting the vampire the most life energy from said feeding.

Dr Marcus (John Carson), the resident doctor of the village discovers the first victim, and sends a letter an ex-army friend and womanising lad Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) to come immediately, though the letter is somewhat vague.

Carla and her rabbit-like 'sexiness'
Kronos arrives with his good friend Prof. Grost (John Cater), who is a hunchback and an unrivalled expert on the Cult of Vampirism. Along the way Kronos picks up unattractive Carla (Caroline Munro), a woman in stocks for the crime of dancing on a Sunday, for a bit of fun on the side, and if he ever needs bait in the future to lure the villainous vampire out of hiding.

Meanwhile, whilst young women of the village are dropping like flies, Grost explains to a skeptical Marcus that the killings are committed by a different strain of vampire that feeds off youth, not life-blood.
In the course of the story, we meet the Durwards, the local nobility of the area. Paul Durwood is in the cemetery when Marcus comes across him, standing at the foot of his father's grave, mourning his recent loss. Their father, Lord Durward was a renown sword-fighter who passed away undefeated, and his grieving wife, Lady Durward places all blame on Dr Marcus for his passing although his affliction was serious and there was no cure.

Kronos kicks some villager butt in the cemetery 
Grost places dead cane toads in boxes around the area of the killings, for Kronos to return later to discover that one of them had come back from the dead.

Vampire folklore states that if a vampire were to cross over the corpse of a dead toad, its life-force would pass into the toad giving it new life, and such a toad did resurrect leading them to the tracks of a coach or wagon that they follow for a short while until the tracks come to a strange end.

Kronos inquires Marcus as to the end of a path he points to, which is a village, while Marcus stalls and goes the other way knowing it leads to the Durward Estate.

Marcus ready to add his vampiric death to the cause
Marcus' intrusion and suspicions lead to him getting initiated against his will to the Cult of Vampirism, and upon discovering his new state, in a hilarious scene Kronos and Grost use him as a Guinea pig to discover how this particular breed of a vampire can be slain. As it so happens a blessed cross of steel is the answer. After fending off stupid villagers that believe Kronos killed Marcus in cold blood, and previously taking out some paid assassins at the local inn, Kronos removes a large steel cross from the cemetery and has Grost use his blacksmith skills to forge a blade from it.

Using Carla as bait, she is taken to the Durward Estate under the assumption she is lost and is given refuge for the night. Here the Durward children who are not the vampires ,discover their "withering" mother is actually a Karnstein by birth and was using her family's history of the Dark Arts to attain vampirism and resurrect their father, with Carla as his first victim.

Lady Durward aka Lady Karnstein.
Lady Durward uses mesmerism to make her children be still like statues as she summons her husband from the shadows to feed. Kronos attacks, and almost dies at the hands of the Undead Lord before regaining his blessed blade and slaying both Lord and Lady Vampire.

The children scream and look on in horror as their parents crumble to dust. In the epilogue, having enough of Carla, Kronos strands her in the village with no means to support herself, and takes off with Grost to engage in more vampire slaying adventures, and I daresay to bed another village girl while there....



What I would have done:

I never really understood why the vampire of these Hammer films weren't overtly powerful. They weren't fast, strong or particularly cunning. Their use of Black Arts in battle was pitiful at best, and they reveal themselves and take on vampire slayers with no real plan to succeed.

The vampire knew a hunter was in town, yet hired three useless thugs to try and take out a guy who killed the undead for a living. Kronos did not know how to kill this particular breed of vampire until Marcus gave himself up as a test subject to discover the means. After making Marcus a vampire, I would have kidnapped those closest to him and instructed him to attack and kill Kronos. Sure Kronos was a better fighter, but he could not kill Marcus due to lack of knowledge.

Secondly Marcus or the vampires could have locked Kronos in the barn that he slept in and burnt it down around him. As a precaution they could have snuck into the kitchen of Marcus's house, drugged the food and turned the servants so they did so. While he slept under the influence of the drug, slit his throat and burn the barn down around him. Problem solved.

8 comments:

  1. I atill love the film, we saw it big screen a couple of years back and it was great fun. A reboot would be good though.

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    1. Yes perhaps the novel adaptation you recently reviewed would make for a better film instead of a straight remake of the Hammer film?

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  2. the main big change was the removal of the holy item kill and replacing it with silver, but there are plenty of minor changes... either way works for me :)

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    1. and also the removal of the Karnstein connection didn't you say?
      I'm sure one of the novel adaptations will get done eventually.
      the one that sells the best.

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  3. Yes, the Karnstein connection has gone but it was very flimsy in the film, to be fair.

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    1. This is true, it was only added to connect to the other films.
      She would have either been a member of the Karnstein's or Dracula's cult of vampirism in the Hammerverse.

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  4. This is not bad fim by any means, but still this and The legend of seven golden vampires are only Hammer´s period vampire films which have made me glimpse the watch.

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    1. Thanks for the comment RoseOfTransylvania

      I must admit even though it has been years since I've seen the Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires it did not really impress upon me either.

      For a more sublime view into the world of Asian vampires, I would recommend Japan's Bloodthirsty trilogy (Lake of Dracula, Evil of Dracula etc). The films were shot in the 70s, the Japanese wear 70s fashion of turtlenecks, flares and mini skirts (and look quite good), and the vampires are Japanese version of the Western Vampire (not the hopping kind) and are done quite effectively. The middle entry of the three is my favourite.

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