Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter – UK, 1972

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

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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 is being published by Hammer in association with Titan Comics.

When his village is plagued by mysterious deaths marked by highly accelerated aging, Dr. 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 skeptical 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

“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

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

Cast and characters:

  • Horst Janson as Captain Kronos
  • John Cater as Professor Hieronymus Grost
  • Caroline Munro as Carla
  • John Carson as Dr. Marcus
  • Shane Briant as Paul Durward
  • Lois Daine as Sara Durward
  • Wanda Ventham as Lady Durward
  • Ian Hendry as Kerro
  • William Hobbs as Hagen
  • Paul Greenwood as Giles
  • Lisa Collings as Vanda Sorell
  • Brian Tully as George Sorell
  • Robert James as Pointer
  • Perry Soblosky as Barlow
  • John Hollis as Barman
  • Susanna East as Isabella Sorell
  • Stafford Gordon as Barton Sorell
  • Elizabeth Dear as Ann Sorell
  • Joanna Ross as Myra
  • Neil Seiler as Priest
  • Olga Anthony as Lilian
  • Gigi Gurpinar as Blind Girl
  • Peter Davidson as Big Man
  • Terence Sewards as Tom
  • Trevor Lawrence as Deke
  • Jacqui Cook as Barmaid
  • B. H. Barry, Michael Buchanan, Steve James, Ian McKay, Barry Smith, Roger Williams as Villagers
  • Linda Cunningham as Jane
  • Caroline Villiers as Petra
  • Julian Holloway – Kronos’s voice
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Image courtesy of Iver Film Services website

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