Though IMDB says 74! I got my date right off the film.
Before Anime flooded our entertainment world with endless variety of schlocky vampire hunters dressed as twee school girls (meant to titillate the predatory pedophile in us all), we had Captain Kronos! Or maybe someone did. I never saw this thing until now. Hammer studios cranking out their cheap products relying mostly on porn-level acting and ladies with impressive boobs. To which I say, get the popcorn and settle in!
Our film vampire remains cloaked and unknown til the very end, and lacks any of the usual sex appeal generally provided (Nosferatu aside) to the big-chested British country lasses. It’s thought that the creature must use some form of mesmerism before leaving the victims drained of their youth! Yes, the victims are aged to death and left with just a drop of blood on the lips. Apparently the creature gets hold of the lips and just slurps youth right out of the ladies.
Enter Captain Kronos, handsome devil as he is, riding over English countryside with his trusty companion the hunchbacked Professor Hieronymous (seriously it’s a cool name I wonder what it would be shortened, Hiery? Rony?) what he doesn’t know about vampires “wouldn’t fill a flea’s codpiece” we are told. You see folks it turns out there as many species of Vampires as there are popular hairstyles, or at least so we’re told.
Captain Kronos is played by Horst Jansen, a striking German who is still working according to IMBD, though best known for 70s era adventure fun like this film.
As a bit of flavor, Kronos frees a punished Sunday dancer (wicked!) found in the stocks as he enters town. The lovely babe is played by British Pin-up and actress Caroline Munro who appears to still be busy in entertainment. Still I remember her best as the gorgeous fantasy-launching slave girl from Sinbad. Anyway, as Carla, she attaches herself readily to his cause, and soon they’re detailing the weird weathering of the lovely milk-maidens in the wildflower plucked heaths. Poor things.
So turns out there’s this graveyard with a massive monument (the only monument really) to some old lord or other, who, it begins to develop like corona virus, may have been some kind of evil vampish bad-guy. And well, we are introduced to his oddball spawn and we’re meant to assume they’re up to something as they have their leatherfaced mom in a bed upstairs in the huge manor they inhabit and that can’t be good.
But don’t be jumping to conclusions! First we get some barroom sword-fighting from some toughs who challenge Kronos. Kronos does not mess around. He asks for an apology for his friend Professor Grost, and when he doesn’t receive it, he utterly freakin’ slays the three ruffians in one move. Jeeze. I always wonder who gets to clean up the bloody messes. I guess you tip the barman for that? I have to say I do miss the days of humble weapons masters. Kronos kills, yes, but he’s no braggart. There are no quips or jokes made over the bodies of the dispatched, even when they may have deserved it. No. Kronos is sober and treats his villains with a kind of respect one grants rattlesnakes.
At one point, in the field, the hunters are burying dead toads in boxes because it is said they will come to life in the presence of a vampire. I hadn’t heard nor seen that particular detail before, so you get a mark for uniqueness on that one Hammer Studios.
There’s also a disturbing live slaying of an vampire-infected man. Prof Grost runs for a stake, carefully selects a favorite, and rushes back to press it to the poor bloke’s chest. I mean, can the poor beggar have a damned shot of something first? I know it’s the age before anesthetic was really in common use, but couldn’t you knock a guy out first?
I know you’re dying to know about the rescued Sunday dancer and her expected romance with Kronos. Well forget it. He rides off without her in the end, the way road heroes dedicated to their life’s work used to do in the old days. Though I have to say, I don’t remember him collecting any payment for the damned effort. And that last sword fight he had with the resurrected vampire lord was a doosey! Ah, sorry I gave a lot away there, but there are enough unique moments in the classic formula to make it worth a watch.
It’s interesting to think about the world before the last century, in terms of isolation and naivete. A guy like this, could ride into probably any rural district and put on a show of hunting vampires. Growing up, a famous New England vampire story was ingrained into us as kids, one that was intertwined with Tuberculosis and sadly, live burials. Tuberculosis was a wasting disease that could have been to blame for the terror of vampires.
A vampire’s grave (not the real location, but one that became a tradition for us high school kids with cars) became a place to trip, especially with a jumpy girl you might like to get your hands on.
Anyway! Available for Free ON PRIME. Enjoy.