What a shame Hammer Films was falling to the wayside when Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter (1974) came out, as it was planned as the first of a series of historical supernatural swashbucklers featuring Captain Kronos.
Set in what appears to be the Napoleonic era, Horst Janson as Kronos is a young swordsman who returned from war to find that his mother & sister have become vampires.
Thus began his enraged career as a vampire slayer, assisted by Professor Grost (John Crater), who is a kind of re-made Igor, a hunchbacked scientist of considerable nobleness & occult knowledge.
The vampire legend is rather remade as well, as this vampire feeds on youth, transforming young women into hags, & do not feed on blood.
It is by no means a perfect film; it has many of the weaknesses of the majority of Hammer films.
Yet director/writer Brian Clemens seems to have believed in his script & attempts to bring some dignity to the story.
The hugely budgeted but not-improved Van Helsing, Cartoon Slayer could have taken some lessons on dignity, but even though Jackman wore a great duster & hat, he was lost in such a piece of abject stupidness that Captain Kronos is by comparison vastly more heroic-seeming figure.
In so many vampire films the hero is boring & milquetoast compared to the charismatic vampire. But Captain Kronos is the charismatic figure of this film.
Whatever weaknesses a low budget imposed on the film doesn't harm it in context of what Hammer films usually are; but there is something more here, & it's a script that could stand reworking & refilming with a real budget & modern FX, just so long as no one lost sight of the idea of the skillful swordsman as foremost in the tale.
Director/writer/prodcer Brian Clemens appears to have been one of those semi-talents who occasionally did something pretty cool. He was one of the key talents in the original Avengers series, as well as The New Avengers, & other campy television series & low-budget made-for-tv crime-movies.
He wrote the script for Sinbad's Golden Voyage (1974), the Ray Harryhausen film with that great swordfight with the Goddess Kali.
He also came up with the story for the second Highlander film, & wrote for the Highlander tv series as well.
And I can still barely remember a short-lived television series he created called The Champions (1967) about mystic super-agents who shared a psychic connection.
As I recall The Champions, it had very little of the campiness of The Avengers but had a genuine mystical feeling. And when it turned out to be such a transient series soon off the air, I remember my own distinct sadness, having grown very fond of it.
Then again, he might never be forgiven for writing & directing & scoring the criminally bad Dr. Jekyll/Sister Hyde (1971). But when all is said & done, he has a permanent place in horror film history thanks to the uniqueness of Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter.
Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl