Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 259: Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974) - Rank 4.5/5


Just a forewarning - this marks the beginning of a very long, Hammer Studios binge on my part. The decision has come about out of a passion for horror films, stemming from the classic monsters (Wolfman, Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, etc). However, while the legacy set forth by Universal Studios is certainly the most prominent in the minds of many when it comes to the cinematic interpretations of these fictional creatures, Hammer Studios also invested a great deal of its time and money into these franchises. Many received more sequels than the Universal monsters ever did, yet I've managed to only see a handful of those in my lifetime. With the exception of "Curse of Frankenstein" and "Revenge of Frankenstein," I haven't seen most of the quintessential films the studio put out. My tastes have always been aimed at their more offbeat sagas ("X: The Unknown," "Quatermass and the Pit," "Four-Sided Triangle," etc.). Therefore, I felt the need to amend this sorely neglected aspect of my horror knowledge, and in starting with "Captain Kronos," I certainly kicked things off right.

"Captain Kronos" is an exceptionally unique film for a couple of major reasons. The first is it is an atypical "horror" film, bridging the gap between horror and action. It blends swashbuckling braggadocio with Gothic brooding in perfect harmony. Kronos (Horst Janson) is a nomadic vampire hunter, whose only close friend is a hunchbacked doctor named Professor Krost. They arrive at a village where virginal lasses are being drained of their life essence left and right.

The other unique twist to the tale is that it has a new take on the vampire legend. Krost and Kronos explain to the villagers that there are different breeds of vampire, just as there are great varieties of fish or bird. The notion that vampires can only come out at night and drain blood from the neck is an antiquated one to Kronos. The vampires plaguing the town feed only on the youth of girls, draining it from their lips during broad daylight. I thought this was delightfully refreshing, especially considering that vampires are often weaker than humans in the sense that they are not immune to sunlight, running water, garlic, crucifixes, etc.

There's one fabulous sequence where the town doctor begins to show signs of vampirism and Kronos begins experimenting with different means to killing the doctor in order to understand the lineage of vampire's he's fighting a little more. Stake through the heart - no dice. Hanging, flame - no good. But steel...Ah, that does it. So Kronos absconds with a large cross from a cemetery and Krost tempers it down to a sword for Kronos to use in battling the youth-draining vampires. What more can I say really? A lot of action and a lot of fun all around.

Watch the Trailer

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