Monday, August 26, 2019

Dojo Classics - Captain Kronos!

Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter is a 1974 Hammer Films entry, in which they try to change up the status quo by focusing on a "charismatic" hero as opposed to a "fascinating" villain. Captain Kronos, a 16th Century former military officer is the man of the hour. He travels the countryside, aided and assisted by the hunchbacked Professor Grost, looking for vampire outbreaks. He then uses his outlandish ways and Samurai sword to dispatch the blood suckers when he comes across them. At least that's the theory.

In this first installment (it was intended apparently to be a series) the duo is joined by a lovely Gypsy girl and they go to a village which is preyed upon by vampires who kill with a kiss and suck the life essence (as opposed to just blood) from their victims, mostly young girls. An old army buddy who is the local doctor has sent for Kronos and they set about solving these crimes using all manner of peculiar and quaint methods.

As Hammer movies go this is an oddball for sure. It's Spaghetti western meets horror flick, and the blend is not always smooth. The action sequences can be clunky, as the swordplay looks a bit uneven in some scenes. The acting, much of it overdubbed, is stiff, and despite some clever visuals from time to time, it's a movie that fails to deliver much of a scare.

The movie is meant to be seen through the eyes of the Gypsy girl, but I think it forgets that sometimes and we lose track of her for some stretches. Also for all her physical beauty, Caroline Munro is not the most subtle actress all the time, and perhaps is not up to what is requested here. I think that is true of the hero Captain Kronos too played by Horst Janson, who has all his lines dubbed by some Brit.

On the other side of that John Carson turns in a credible job as the local and tragic Doctor and John Cater as Professor Grost is quite good.

There are some interesting settings, but for some reason, probably cost, not a single shot that I can remember happens at night. The omnipresent sunshine might be good for the western style, but it damages the ultimate effect of any horror offering. The director, who is also the writer, Brian Clemons, ends up with a movie which is neither fish nor fowl, and lacks the pace or budget to overcome its weaknesses.

All in all, Captain Kronos is a passably entertaining movie with some neat touches, but minus a true emotional core, or at least the personnel capable of communicating that. It was adapted (minus the approval of Clemons who indicates he owns the character) into comic form.

UPDATE: These many years later, I've seen the movie a few more times and as I read this review again, I think I was a bit unkind to the lovely Ms. Munro in regard her acting. There is an arch quality to this whole spectacle and that affected all the performances, hers included.

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  1. Brian Clemens created the New Avengers TV series in 1975.

    1. I have seen a few episodes of New Avengers, but truth told I'm still working on getting through the original shows. The blend of weird, snarky, and really dangerous is really quite attractive.

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