CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER
Directed by Brian Clemens
Produced by Brian Clemens & Albert Fennell
Written by Brian Clemens
Director of Photograpy Ian Wilson
Music by Laurie Johnson
Cast: Horst Janson, John Carson, John Cater & Caroline Munro
1973/91 mins/Color/Dolby Mono
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/UK/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Paramount Home Entertainment DVD
Modern audiences are very accustomed to BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and next year we will be introduced to an updated version of VAN HELSING. But, those who live to hunt and kill vampires have been around for years, in many incarnations. And now, horror fans can re-discover one of the originals with the new DVD release of CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER.
CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER was a Hammer Production, and, as with many Hammer films, is set in a non-specific time (17 century?) in a land which is presumably England. After several girls are found murdered in the area, with their very lifeforce drained from their bodies, Dr. Marcus (John Carson) contacts his old friend, Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) for help. Kronos arrives on the scene, along with his assistant Professor Gorst (John Cater), and a gypsy girl named Carla (Caroline Munro), whom he's met along the way. After being briefed on the murders, Kronos and Gorst begin their investigation, determining that the vampire isn't the typical blood-sucking type, and is using their power to remain young. As the murders continue, and the locals begin to distrust the newcomers, Kronos must narrow the list of suspects and find the monster before it takes Carla.
CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER is a truly odd, yet strangely enjoyable film. Hammer reportedly wanted this film to be the first chapter of a series, but the studio's eventual collapse killed that idea. Given some tweaking, that could have been a good thing. The idea of a vampire hunter may not be that original, but CAPTAIN KRONOS does bring some interesting angles to the fold. The Kronos character is a very no-nonsense fellow, who combines both a spiritual and scientific approach to his craft, the latter coming from his associate Professor Horst. And, obviously, the use of life-sucking vampires is different, and enables writer/director Brian Clemens to play with the traditional vampire rules (for example, the vampire here can move about during the day). The film never really gets too horrific, but there are some very mild gore scenes (but I still wonder how the film got an "R" rating). The story culminates with a very nice plot-twist and the battle at the end is done quite well. And of course, it's always great to see the very hot Caroline Munro on screen.
However, there are two things that keep CAPTAIN KRONOS from being a classic. The first concerns Captain Kronos himself, actor Horst Janson. The man has the screen presence of a sock. Kronos is meant to be a stoic and solitary man, but this guy goes far beyond unemotional, leaving the viewer begging for some sort of facial expression. The other problem is the tone of the film. On the surface, CAPTAIN KRONOS is a straight-ahead supernatural thriller, but the film also contains some campy elements, some of which are clearly intentional. But others appear to be serious, and simply come across as campy. (This may be due to the fact that the film is 30 years old.) When Carla says, "I'm staying, if you'll have me." And Kronos replies, "Oh, I'll have you." I immediately heard "Yeah, baby!" in my head. Hammer fans should be delighted that CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER is finally arriving on DVD, and newcomers to the film should enjoy it's gothic, if campy adventures.
CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER is resurrected on DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Given the film's age, this transfer is stunning. The image is surprisingly crisp and clear, showing only the slightest amount of grain during the daytime scenes. There are very few overt defects from the source material, although I did see a scratch here and there. The colors look fantastic, as CAPTAIN KRONOS shies away from the usual dark, gothic look of vampire films and displays a wide range of brilliant shades. The DVD contains a Dolby Digital mono audio track which provides clear dialogue, sound effects, and music. However, the dynamic range on the track is a bit off, so that the music is clearly louder than the dialogue. The only extra on this DVD is an audio commentary featuring writer/director/producer Brian Clemens, star Caroline Munro, and historian Jonathan Sothcott. This is an interesting commentary, as Clemens speaks very honestly about his feelings towards Hammer and the horror genre as a whole. He and Munro share many memories about the production and speak at length about the other actors in the film. The DVD packaging for CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER is awful, featuring a cover which is blurry and too dark...and Kronos isn't even featured!
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©