CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER (1972) Reviews and overview

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Scream Factory has unveiled the special features for its Blu-ray release of Hammer horror Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter which is due for release on April 14, 2020.

Audio commentary with film historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck (new)
Audio commentary with writer-director Brian Clemens, actress Caroline Munro, and Hammer Films historian Jonathan Sothcott
Anything Goes: Hammer Film in the 70s featurette (new)
Theatrical trailer
Radio spots

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Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is a 1972 British supernatural horror film written and directed by Brian Clemens (The Tell-Tale HeartDoctor Jekyll and Sister HydeHammer House of Mystery and Suspense ), produced by Albert Fennell and Hammer Film Productions. It was belatedly released on 7th April 1974.

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The film stars Horst Janson in the title role, along with John Carson (The Night Caller; The Plague of the Zombies; Taste the Blood of Dracula), Shane Briant (Straight on Till MorningDemons of the Mind; The Picture of Dorian Gray) and Caroline Munro (Dracula A.D. 1972; Faceless). The original music score was composed by Laurie Johnson (And Soon the Darkness) supervised by Philip Martell.

In 2011, a novelisation of the film was released, written by Guy Adams under the title Kronos and published by Arrow Publishing in association with Hammer and the Random House Group.

In 2017, a comic book adaptation was published by Hammer in association with Titan Comics.

Plot:

When his village is plagued by mysterious deaths marked by highly accelerated ageing, Doctor Marcus calls in his old army friend, Captain Kronos, and his companion, hunchback Professor Hieronymus Grost, two professional vampire hunters.

Grost explains to the initially sceptical Marcus that the women are victims of a vampire that drains not blood but youth and that there are “as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey.” The finding of another victim confirms Grost’s explanation.

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Grost and Kronos’s companion Carla prove via a mystical test the presence of vampires, but their proofs are contradicted by an eyewitness who claims to have seen “someone old, very old”, while a youth-draining vampire should appear as youthful.

Marcus visits the family of his late friend, Lord Hagen Durward, and speaks with the Lord’s son Paul (Shane Briant) and his beautiful sister Sara (Lois Daine) but has to leave without seeing the bedridden Lady Durward. In the woods, Marcus has an encounter with a cloaked figure that leaves him shaken and with drops of blood on his lips…

Reviews:

” … it’s hard not to be charmed by Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter to at least some extent. If nothing else, it stands among the most determinedly peculiar horror films Hammer ever released, and it represents a then-unique attempt to do something new and different with vampirism.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“Well-photographed and cleverly directed by Brian Clemens (Doctor Jekyll & Sister Hyde), this is one of Hammer’s few attempts to broaden its audience in the 1970s…” All Movie

“Though it’s heavy-handed in places and doesn’t always engage as well as it might, overall this is an entertaining and intriguing film which deserves more attention than it has historically enjoyed. It’s one of the last truly individual Hammer films […] Well worth hunting down.” Eye for Film

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter has a goofy title and none of their usual players, so I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s actually one of their best vampire movies and a must-see for any vamp or Hammer enthusiast.” Horror Movie a Day

“Brian Clemens script and direction are too clever by half and the resulting movie is unmotivated comic strip, without atmosphere and conviction.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook

“To those of us of the World War II generation, a superman like Kronos (Horst Janson) is possibly a scarier concept than plain old blood-sucking, which may be beside the point to people who have doted on the comic-strip exploits of Captain Marvel and Clark Kent.” The New York Times, October 31, 1974

“Good action sequences and a few ever-so-delicate touches of humor make this Hammer potboiler both an intelligent variation on the vampire subgenre and generally an enjoyable watch.” The Terror Trap

“Though Clemens manages sly quotes from the likes of Nosferatu and The Seventh Seal, the film has absolutely no pretensions beyond being a thoroughly endearing entertainment, and succeeds admirably despite the pastiche of incongruous conventions.” Rod McShane, The Time Out Film Guide

“I don’t know where they dug up Horst Janson, but he’s one of the lamest heroes I’ve seen in a long, long time. He looks and acts like a constipated, confused mannequin and isn’t convincing as a romantic lead, an action hero, or a vampire hunter; which is a shame since the role requires him to be all three.” The Video Vacuum

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Image courtesy of Iver Film Services website

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Cast and characters:
Horst Janson … Kronos
John Carson … Doctor Marcus
Shane Briant … Paul Durward
Caroline Munro … Carla
John Cater … Grost
Lois Daine … Sara Durward
Ian Hendry … Kerro
Wanda Ventham … Lady Durward
William Hobbs … Hagen
Brian Tully … George Sorell
Robert James … Pointer
Perry Soblosky … Barlow
Paul Greenwood … Giles
Lisa Collings … Vanda Sorell
John Hollis … Barman
Susanna East … Isabella Sorell
Stafford Gordon … Barton Sorell
Elizabeth Dear … Ann Sorell
Joanna Ross … Myra
Neil Seiler … Priest
Olga Anthony … Lilian
Gigi Gurpinar … Blind Girl
Peter Davidson … Big Man
Terence Sewards … Tom
Trevor Lawrence … Deke
Jacqui Cook … Barmaid
Penny Price … Harlot
Linda Cunningham … Jane
Julian Holloway … Kronos (voice)
Caroline Villiers … Petra

Film Facts:
The film was originally the pilot for a planned series.

Trailer:

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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