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  Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter Kiss Of Death
Year: 1973
Director: Brian Clemens
Stars: Horst Janson, John Carson, Caroline Munro, John Cater, Shane Briant, Lois Daine, Wanda Ventham, William Hobbs, Ian Hendry
Genre: Horror, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 7 votes)
Review: Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) rides across nineteeth century Europe accompanied by his associate Professor Grost (John Cater), seeking out evildoers. His travels lead him to the hamlet of his old army friend Marcus (John Carson), who tells him that local girls are being found mysteriously drained... not of blood, but of youth. Kronos and Grost immediately suspect a vampire, but how to destroy it? And who is the vampire, anyway?

To inject some new life into Hammer's flagging fortunes, Brian Clemens and producer Albert Fennell (of TV's The Avengers fame) were recruited and this is the tongue-in-cheek film Clemens scripted and directed to revitalise the studio's vampire genre. It was planned as the first in a series, but sadly, Captain Kronos was not a financial success, and no more was heard of the character. Adding a swashbuckling hero to the overfamiliar mix was a good idea, although Janson himself is a little bland, and Clemens contrives a welcome array of eccentricities around him.

Kronos is a bit of a lad, far removed from the Van Helsing of the Dracula movies. The know-it-all Van Helsing aspect is carried by Grost, a hunchbacked folklorist, who has the experience to match the skills of Kronos (and who looks as if he has a duvet stuffed up the back of his shirt). Our hero, however, looks like Bjorn Borg and acts like Peter Wyngarde, with a taste for fine cigars and brandy, and Caroline Munro for a girlfriend. I'm surprised he doesn't roar around the countryside in a Jag.

Clemens knows he has a hackneyed story to work with, so he dresses up the clich├ęs with some clever touches. The vampire has no fear of the cross, and indeed appears as a cross-shaped shadow in a church just before attacking a pious victim. Flowers curl up and die when they are passed by the villain, and, as Kronos and Grost discover when trying to destroy a character who has been vampirised, it is difficult to dispatch: stakes, fire and hanging have no effect.

All the evidence points to the Durwards, a family of noblemen and women who adopt a superior air and exploit the peasants. There is a twist in the tale, which isn't particularly shocking, but does provide us with the swordfight we've been expecting, and a good one it is, too. Previously Kronos has been bullied into action by Ian Hendry, unfortunately with not much in the way of swordplay, but he really proves himself a reliable hero by the finale. It's a pity Hammer weren't keen on what Clemens devised, because this film would have been the ideal starting point for an enjoyable series once the hero had found his feet in a sequel. Music by Laurie Johnson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Brian Clemens  (1931 - )

British writer and producer, usually with associate Albert Fennell, most celebrated for classic TV series The Avengers and The Professionals. On film, as on TV, he offered up thrillers and horrors with a knowing air, such as And Soon the Darkness, See No Evil, Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter (which he also directed) and fantasies like The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and the ill-fated Watcher in the Woods.

 
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