Tuesday, 6 October 2015

From the Video Vault: "Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter" (1974) Definitely a cult classic

This intriguing effort from Hammer sat on the shelf for 2 years. The main problem the audience had was probably the lack of usual Hammer horror stars : Lee, Cushing, Michael Gough, Ingrid Pitt. We do have two Hammer stalwarts, Shane Briant (playing poncy young Mr Durward) and sultry Caroline Munro (who acquits herself nicely as Kronos's roll-in-the-hay interest, Ms Munro has straw-encrusted hair in several shots).
The lead, German actor Horst Janson (with 70's boofy hairstyle), was huge in Europe but unknown in the U.K. Ian Hendry steals scenes in the middle of the film (there is an excellent Kill Bill-esque tavern samurai sword scene). 
Wanting something fresh and quirky, Hammer went with Brian Clemens (TV's "The Avengers", "Thriller") as writer/director. The film is produced by Clemens and Albert Finnell ("The Avengers"). Laurie Johnson ("The Avengers") scored the film.
There's the usual budget-saving "day-for-night" photography, some cheesy dialogue ("Mind you get back before dark, now!") and a loyal hunchback off-sider, Grost. Clemens is clearly having lots of fun. There were plans for this to be a series of films. A shame.
The plot involving a stranger who battles evil is more like a Western, then you add youth-draining vampires and the infamous Karnstein family to the mix.
There's a rather nasty extended scene (around the 50 minute mark) where Kronos and Co discover it is harder to kill a vampire than they expected. It reminded me a bit of the gristly farmhouse murder in Hitchcock's "Torn Curtain".

  •  Perhaps I was dozing, but why does our hero (when he's not boffing the buxom wench and sword fighting) wear a pillow case on his head?
  • What's the bit about the bendy crucifix (definitely a cinema first)?

Possible drinking game:
Take a shot every time you see Shane Briant "doing a teapot" (standing elbow bent, his left hand on his waist).

Not sure whether the last name in the closing credits is a pisstake or merely unfortunate:
"Whore - Penny Price"

PS  The YouTube version is 4 minutes shorter than the DVD version (91 mins).

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