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.|
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'|
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|
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|
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.|
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.