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A young man, Paul Carlson, is on a trip and spends the night at count Dracula's castle. Needless to say, he is murdered. After some time has passed, the young man's brother Simon comes to ... See full summary »
Roy Ward Baker
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Vampire hunter and expert swordsman Kronos finds himself in a small village where several of the local young women have been found in an advanced state of age, their youth drained from them by a vampire's kiss. Kronos' search leads him to the Durward estate where he is met by the effete children of the apparently aged and sick Lady Durward. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
This was filmed in 1972 but was not released until 1974. See more »
At time 1:04:40, as the young girl puts the lamp down on the table, you can briefly see the electrical cord fall to the ground from under her arm, where it was hidden while she walked down the steps. See more »
[Kronos's friend Grost, who is a hunchback, has just been mocked for this by Kerro, the village ruffian, and his two companions]
To make sport of a physical affliction is both impolite and cruel. After all, I wouldn't dream of calling you
[to the man on Kerro's right]
Rat Face, or
[to the man on Kerro's left]
[to Kerro himself]
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Among the least known of the Hammer Studios horror output, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is also one of its most interesting and unusual productions. As opposed to the more in-your-face Dracula series that immortalized Christopher Lee, CK:VH knows that it is just a cinematic comic book and works with itself in a restrained, somewhat lighthearted way that is, off and on, quite effective. This film never really tries to outright scare you which, I think, is extremely cool. Instead, it sets an atmospheric table at which your imagination is invited to partake. This suave slant is the work of Director Brian Clemens who was largely responsible for the legendary '60's British TV series, The Avengers; the original, with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. If you remember that series, you'll recognize some of its essential look and feel in this film. Viewed from one azimuth, CK:VH is nonsense but, if you lighten up a bit and just get into the story, the movie takes on a dreamy quality against which its more `horrific' elements play in a most interesting way.
The setting, never precisely defined, seems to be central Europe during or just after the Napoleonic Wars (from the clothes). Let's call it early 19th century. Captain Kronos himself appears to be a former officer of Dragoons, separated from service although still in uniform. The implication is that, while away in the wars, he lost his wife, and possibly his child, to vampires. Now, in the company of his good friend, a hunchbacked academic and authority on vampire lore who drives a wagon loaded with tools of the vampire-killing trade, the Captain roams the region hunting the undead.
Captain Kronos is played by the German actor Horst Janson who, with his grave, nearly too-nordic features, balanced by eyes that seem to constantly smile, brings a nice sense of mystery to the role. Kronos is aloof and taciturn, though never unpleasant. He smokes long cheroots and carries a Samurai sword that he, evidently, did not acquire at a flea market. We don't learn the history of the sword, but we see that he can definitely wield it, as does a trio of toughs fronted by the local alpha-blade (the late Ian Hendry, a prominent British character actor of the period who, interestingly, was a regular during the Avengers' first season.) Actually, they don't really see the sword. They just feel it, sort of, before collapsing in a heap. Janson plays the Captain with a certain Playboy Magazine, lady's man sense of cool, echoing a time when people were just finishing up talking about sex and beginning to actually do it. If you were around then, you'll recognize the spin. It's a nostalgia hit, for sure. You might even recognize Janson's face, which was seen in full page ads in American magazines during that period; men's apparel, liquor, etc.
The Captain and his trusty companion have arrived in the film's locale in response to rumors of bad happenings. Young women of the area are undergoing drastic reverse-makeovers, emerging from them as exsanguinated centenarians. The locals, rather superstitious rural types, are in a tizzy. Could the recently-deceased head of the local, reclusive aristocratic family, whom some suspect of not being completely dead, be involved? It's an angle definitely worth investigating. The Captain makes contact with the only person in the area still in possession of his wits - the local physician - and the hunt begins.
If most Hammer films tend to be hissing fastballs down the middle, CK:VH is an off-speed slider on the corner. There's nothing fancy here, no baroque sets or sophisticated effects. In fact, the film overall has a sparse look and feel that enhances its credibility. The hunt for the vampire proceeds as a believable combination of scientific method and lore. Much of what transpires does so in daylight which, to me, carries significant implications. Evil that does not fear sunlight carries a big stick. We, as its prey, have no real hiding place. The film balances its occasionally goofy moments by never sacrificing its dignity and, at times, is quite poignant. It also features one of the most brilliantly effective sequences ever seen in this genre, illustrating how much can be accomplished with the simplest of cinematic means. I think you'll know it when you see it. This film was produced as the first in what was hoped to be a series of Captain Kronos adventures but the concept failed to grab the required audience. Pity, but at least we have this one. It's fun, stylish, and a perfect rainy-day diversion.
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