» » Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974)

Short summary

Vampire hunter and expert swordsman Kronos finds himself in a small village where several of the local young women have been found in an advanced state of age, their youth drained from them by a vampire's kiss. Kronos' search leads him to the Durward estate where he is met by the effete children of the apparently aged and sick Lady Durward.

This was to have been the first in a series of films. The poor box office cancelled those plans. The poor returns also contributed to the decline in the box office track record of Hammer Films.

Horst Janson's German accent was deemed too thick to be properly understood, so Julian Holloway was brought in to loop his entire performance.

After Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), this was the second and final film that Caroline Munro made under her Hammer contract.

Ingrid Pitt has said in interviews she refused the Wanda Ventham cameo role

Writer Brian Clemens had been keen to use Simon Oates as Captain Kronos.

This was filmed in 1972 but was not released until 1974.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Brightcaster
    I'm a big Hammer fan and have been wanting to see 'Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter' for a long, long time. Now finally I own it on DVD and after watching it four times I think it could very well be my favourite from the studio. It's definitely without a doubt THE most underrated Hammer movie. It did poorly at the box office but it now has one of the most enthusiastic cult followings of any Hammer film. Quentin Tarantino is reportedly a big fan of this movie and seeing how it inventively draws upon several genres (e.g. Westerns) it's really no surprise. Hammer's long running Dracula franchise was running out of steam by the early 70s, and they were looking for a new series. Enter Brian Clemens of 'The Avengers' fame, who had previously written 'Dr. Jekyll And Sister Hyde' for the studio. He came up with some innovative ideas and he thought that this would be the first of many movies to feature the Captain Kronos character. Sadly it wasn't to be, and attempts to spin off a TV series also fell through. Watching it thirty years later I just can't understand why! Anyway, German actor Horst Janson plays Captain Kronos, the enigmatic, sword wielding, dope smoking action hero, and John Cater ('The Abominable Dr. Phibes') is his hunchback assistant Professor Grost. These are two fantastic characters, and I would love to have seen further adventures by them! Horror buffs will also get a kick out of the rest of the cast. The gorgeous Caroline Munro ('Maniac') is a gypsy girl who falls for Kronos, John Carson ('The Plague Of The Zombies') is Kronos' old doctor buddy, Shane Briant ('Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell') is a local young gentleman, and Wanda Ventham (Colonel Virginia Lake in the cult series 'UFO') plays Briant's invalid mother Lady Durward. On top of that there's a fantastic cameo by Ian Hendry ('Repulsion', 'Theatre Of Blood'). Hendry had been one of the original stars of 'The Avengers' playing John Steed's first partner in the little seen early episodes. A hard drinker, his career eventually suffered because of his vices, but he is terrific confronting Kronos in one of the best scenes of the movie. I really find it hard to fault this film. I think it's a forgotten horror classic, and why anyone would even bother contemplating watching the likes of 'Blade' or 'Van Helsing' when 'Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter' is sitting on the shelf waiting to be rediscovered is beyond me! I wholeheartedly recommend this movie to every horror fan. I can't see how any fan of the genre couldn't help but love this unfairly overlooked Hammer gem!
  • comment
    • Author: Jediathain
    I've only seen a couple of Hammer horror films, but I'm impressed. They seem to be subtly effective if you're looking for a few thrills and chills, not overdoing the gore, being mild on the language but yet having a definite edge to them.

    "Captain Kronos" isn't super but it's enjoyable. The direction is excellent, the DVD transfer looked nice, and - like a good mystery - there's a good twist at the end regarding the murderer, er.....vampire. For us guys, there are also a lot of pretty women in here, too. The acting isn't the best but who cares? It's entertaining, and not made to be taken seriously.

    I enjoyed the team of "Captain Kronos and Professor Hieronymous-Grost," and I'm surprised there wasn't a sequel. These two guys make a good team: Horst Janson as the younger, dashing swordsman, and John Cater as the older assistant. The latter provides a little comic relief, too. Their relationship reminded me a bit of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce at "Holmes and Watson."

    The good captain is not your normal vampire hunter. He's just as anxious to get it on with the ladies, and he has a sexy one for a partner in Caroline Munro as "Carla." Kronos also smokes "herbal" cigars! The brief touches of comedy, western, swashbuckling, horror, mystery, romance, sex, supernatural, and who-knows-what else all make it an inventive and fun hour-and-a-half. Hey, it even gives God several good plugs! This horror movie is different, all right.
  • comment
    • Author: Bolv
    Captain Kronos (Horst Janson)is a retired officer from the Imperial Army. He is handsome, debonair and has an eye for the ladies but his full-time job sees him seeking out and destroying Vampires with the assistance of his sidekick Professor Hieronymos Grost(John Cater)(now where have I heard that name before).Grost is a hunchback and an expert on the different types of Vampire and how to seek and destroy each different kind, for we learn there are many types. On the way to assist a former army buddy of his Dr Marcus(John Carson),Kronos frees the lovely Carla (Caroline Munro)from bondage and she joins our heroes on their quest to rid the world of evil. On arriving at the home of Dr Marcus, his old friend tells him of the blight that has been affecting the area namely Young girls are being found dead with blood on their lips but more importantly they have aged rapidly. Grost is immediately able to tell which kind of Vampires they are dealing with they are the kind that needs blood of youth to stay young themselves,so Grost sets out a plan to find them. Some thugs are hired by an unknown man in a local Inn to get rid of Kronos and his associates but they are no match for our swashbuckling hero and are soon dispatched without Kronos learning who the thugs employers were. There are unfortunately no witnesses who can describe or point a finger at the guilty parties but Kronos believes that the Durwood Family(real name Karnstein) is somehow involved and so sets about luring them into his trap.

    Review:Captain Kronos:Vampire Hunter is a very unusual entry in the Hammer Canon…. Director/Scriptwriter Brian Clemens film is full of interesting and original ideas which he brings to screen with an assured confidence. The Hooded figure that lurks in the leafy glades and stalks the local wenches is done very well and the identity is never given away until the end.The shadow of a crucifix that comes to life in a church is also a high point. The film is also quite funny with some very good witty dialogue that helps the film move along at a fair old pace. Kronos is a also not scarce on action and contains a good few Excellent action set pieces. Captain Kronos:Vampire Hunter was initially planned to be Hammer's next big franchise but sadly poor box office put an end to that which is a huge shame as it is truly a classic of 70s Horror and a film that all Hammer enthusiasts should see.
  • comment
    • Author: Doomblade
    Among the least known of the Hammer Studios horror output, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is also one of its most interesting and unusual productions. As opposed to the more in-your-face Dracula series that immortalized Christopher Lee, CK:VH knows that it is just a cinematic comic book and works with itself in a restrained, somewhat lighthearted way that is, off and on, quite effective. This film never really tries to outright scare you which, I think, is extremely cool. Instead, it sets an atmospheric table at which your imagination is invited to partake. This suave slant is the work of Director Brian Clemens who was largely responsible for the legendary '60's British TV series, The Avengers; the original, with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. If you remember that series, you'll recognize some of its essential look and feel in this film. Viewed from one azimuth, CK:VH is nonsense but, if you lighten up a bit and just get into the story, the movie takes on a dreamy quality against which its more `horrific' elements play in a most interesting way.

    The setting, never precisely defined, seems to be central Europe during or just after the Napoleonic Wars (from the clothes). Let's call it early 19th century. Captain Kronos himself appears to be a former officer of Dragoons, separated from service although still in uniform. The implication is that, while away in the wars, he lost his wife, and possibly his child, to vampires. Now, in the company of his good friend, a hunchbacked academic and authority on vampire lore who drives a wagon loaded with tools of the vampire-killing trade, the Captain roams the region hunting the undead.

    Captain Kronos is played by the German actor Horst Janson who, with his grave, nearly too-nordic features, balanced by eyes that seem to constantly smile, brings a nice sense of mystery to the role. Kronos is aloof and taciturn, though never unpleasant. He smokes long cheroots and carries a Samurai sword that he, evidently, did not acquire at a flea market. We don't learn the history of the sword, but we see that he can definitely wield it, as does a trio of toughs fronted by the local alpha-blade (the late Ian Hendry, a prominent British character actor of the period who, interestingly, was a regular during the Avengers' first season.) Actually, they don't really see the sword. They just feel it, sort of, before collapsing in a heap. Janson plays the Captain with a certain Playboy Magazine, lady's man sense of cool, echoing a time when people were just finishing up talking about sex and beginning to actually do it. If you were around then, you'll recognize the spin. It's a nostalgia hit, for sure. You might even recognize Janson's face, which was seen in full page ads in American magazines during that period; men's apparel, liquor, etc.

    The Captain and his trusty companion have arrived in the film's locale in response to rumors of bad happenings. Young women of the area are undergoing drastic reverse-makeovers, emerging from them as exsanguinated centenarians. The locals, rather superstitious rural types, are in a tizzy. Could the recently-deceased head of the local, reclusive aristocratic family, whom some suspect of not being completely dead, be involved? It's an angle definitely worth investigating. The Captain makes contact with the only person in the area still in possession of his wits - the local physician - and the hunt begins.

    If most Hammer films tend to be hissing fastballs down the middle, CK:VH is an off-speed slider on the corner. There's nothing fancy here, no baroque sets or sophisticated effects. In fact, the film overall has a sparse look and feel that enhances its credibility. The hunt for the vampire proceeds as a believable combination of scientific method and lore. Much of what transpires does so in daylight which, to me, carries significant implications. Evil that does not fear sunlight carries a big stick. We, as its prey, have no real hiding place. The film balances its occasionally goofy moments by never sacrificing its dignity and, at times, is quite poignant. It also features one of the most brilliantly effective sequences ever seen in this genre, illustrating how much can be accomplished with the simplest of cinematic means. I think you'll know it when you see it. This film was produced as the first in what was hoped to be a series of Captain Kronos adventures but the concept failed to grab the required audience. Pity, but at least we have this one. It's fun, stylish, and a perfect rainy-day diversion.
  • comment
    • Author: WOGY
    Now I'm a big horror fan, but ironically enough I finally decided to give this one a go because of the western and swordfighting angle it has (I'm a big fan of both spaghetti westerns and chambaras). And therein lies the power of Captain Kronos: it's more than your typical Hammer vampire entry. It manages to be both serious and tongue-in-cheek, both atmospheric and visceral, and thus operates on a whole other level than earlier Hammer vampire flicks which I find very formulaic.

    Captain Kronos is a swashbuckling vampire hunter, a mixture of the spaghetti western cool anti-hero and the antagonist of evil that is usually the Van Helsing character. In true Clint Eastwood fashion, he smokes a stump, swaps the poncho for an 18th century army jacket and the six shooter for various swords (including a katana). His sidekick is the witty vampire expert Professor Grost and along with Carla, a gypsy girl they pick along the way (played by Caroline Munro), they're called upon to solve a case of vampirism in rural England.

    What strikes me about Captain Kronos is the exceptional cinematography. Director Brian Clemens employs some very inventive angles to photograph the action, leaving more to the mind's eye through use of shadows and eliptical editing. Highlights include the shadow of a cross coming to life and the shadow of a man being hanged seen through a window. The exterior shots are all well composed, with the thick black soil, the trees and the bleak weather all coming together as the perfect setting for the vampires to wreak havoc. There are also some very chillng moments (like the hooded vampires in the forest and a very creepy old lady), so don't be mistaken: Captain Kronos might take its cue from action movies, but it's still essentially a horror flick at heart.

    Of course it's not without its flaws. Horst Janson (Captain Kronos) is by no means a physical actor so the action scenes leave a lot to be desired. His swordfighting as seen in the cemetery scene is lamentably bad. It's no wonder that the best scene of him using a sword is in the tavern where he teaches three bullies a lesson. His slashing there is composed in the editing room. OK this is Hammer, not Toho or Daei, and Janson couldn't possibly dream of equalling a Mifune or Nakadai, but still a couple of swordfighting lessons wouldn't have been such a bad idea. What's worse is that Janson is not a good actor period. His range involves little more than trying to look cool. Even at that, his boyish face and blonde hair don't help at all. He's more stiff and wooden than "badass" cool. A more charismatic lead would have done wonders for Captain Kronos.

    Anyways, this is a movie that deserves to be rediscovered by all sorts of 70's b-movie fans. I'm not a vampire fan by any means, so it's very refreshing to see a movie playing with the conventions and clichés of the sub-genre (which I find tiresome for the most part) in entertaining ways.
  • comment
    • Author: from earth
    Proof definite that Hammer could survive without Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, or even their borrowed Universal monsters (Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, the Mummy). Kronos is an entirely original take on vampires and monster-hunting. Brian Clements (The Avengers) has fun with the concept, and you're never quite sure if you're watching a parody or a homage. Kronos works either way, though. Check out the swordfight scene that's a parody of every Western ever, when Kronos kills three men before they (or us) can see him draw his sword. Lots of action, and an interesting vampire concept, make for a must-see movie.
  • comment
    • Author: Khiceog
    Hammer was trying to change their failing and falling image in the 1970s and directed their cinematic resources towards other non-traditional horror themes. They came out with the Karnstein Trilogy of vampire films with lesbian overtones. They had Darcula meet kung fu in The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. Hammer showed more and more cleavage(and in many instances dispensed with the clothes altogether). They had Dr. Jekyll have a sister Hyde. And in 1973, Hammer tried to start a swashbuckling super hero vampire hunter with the film Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter. The concept was that Kronos recently of fighting in the war, having lost his sister and mother to vampirism, set off into various European locales with his friend/hunchback/professor in search of evil to stamp out. The movie is at some points obvious parody and at others a homage of sorts to earlier Hammer pieces. The film is quite enjoyable for what it is. It does have many flaws, however, most dealing with a total lack of respect for traditional vampire lore. Day and night seem not to matter to the vampire, nor does the vampire drink for thirst but rather for eternal beauty. Okay. Credit certainly is due to the innovative and creative Brian Clemens who wrote and directed the film. The acting is acceptable. Horst Janson is okay as Kronos but really has little personal flair. Most of the film has him with his shirt off(pity more like this was not directed toward co-star Caroline Munro). Munro is okay in her role too. Really most of the acting is pretty bland with a couple good performances given by John Cater as the professor and John Carson as Dr. Marcus. The highlight of the film easily is the tavern scene when Kronos meets up with a trio of thugs led by Ian Hendry. Hendry has fun with his cameo. All in all Captain Kronos is an exciting and interesting picture to see. The sets and costumes are up to the usual high Hammer standards. The musical score is wonderful as well.
  • comment
    • Author: Nuadazius
    "Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter" is far and away one of the most interesting productions to ever come from Hammer Films. It's the result of a collaboration between Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell, two veterans of 'The Avengers' who'd previously made the eerie terror-in-the-daylight thriller "And Soon the Darkness". The twists it puts into vampire lore, as well as the genre crossing (the film is a combination of period horror and swashbuckler), make all the difference. The title character, played by German actor Horst Janson (who's dubbed by Julian Holloway), is a debonair vampire hunter & killer who travels with his loyal companion, Professor Grost (John Cater). They're summoned by a doctor named Marcus (John Carson), who's found that the beautiful young women in his area have been turned into old crones - they've been drained of their youth, as opposed to being drained of blood, by the local vampire. Writer / director / co-producer Clemens injects some amusing touches into his screenplay, not the least of which is the method of burying dead toads near trees to determine the path their nemesis is taking (when passing near the graves, the vampire's presence will bring the toads back to life). Caroline Munro, in all of her sexy glory, adds to the appeal as Carla, whom Kronos and Grost rescue from a pillory. The acting is sound all the way down the line, including Shane Briant and Lois Daine as the proper, well-to-do Durward siblings, and Ian Hendry as trouble making tavern customer Kerro. The atmosphere is strong, the period feel impressive, the thunderous music by Laurie Johnson a rousing accompaniment, and overall this sizes up as a great deal of fun. While the mystery is not a particularly hard one to solve, Clemens and Fennell are still to be commended for their presentation. They make this a grand entertainment. It really is a shame that the film wasn't more successful as the idea of creating a franchise character a la Van Helsing out of Kronos could have been a delight, as he went about seeking out and vanquishing evil. There's enough action here, a nicely suspenseful sequence before the big finale, and an appreciable glimpse of Munro's exquisite body, to make this well worth watching for fans of period adventures. Eight out of 10.
  • comment
    • Author: Adaly
    Fans of the hit 1960s TV series "The Avengers" will not be surprised to learn of what a marvelous movie "Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter" turns out to be. Not, that is, after hearing that Brian Clemens, the producer and oftentimes writer for that cult TV favorite, was also the producer/writer/director of this film, and that Laurie Johnson, who wrote so many musical scores for "The Avengers," provided his great skills to this film, as well. But wait..."Kronos" has a lot more going for it than these two formidable talents. It concerns a swashbuckling swordsman, late of the Infantry Guard, who--with the help of a hunchbacked professor, an ex-Army doctor friend, and a gypsy girl that he meets on the highway (played by yummy cult actress Caroline Munro)--journeys around what looks to be late 18th century England, hunting and slaying vampires. But the vampires here are NOT your average sanguineous necksuckers; rather, they drain the very youth and spirit from their victims, leaving them withered husks. "Kronos" turns out to be another wonderful entertainment from the House of Hammer, with extremely handsome sets, lush outdoor photography, and one of the most interesting sword fights this side of "Scaramouche." It is remarkably imaginative throughout, and directed by Clemens with great style and panache. What a remarkable series this could have made! As an extra, the DVD features extensive commentary from Clemens and Munro that should be of great interest to all fans of films of this genre. This DVD is a real winner indeed!
  • comment
    • Author: Trash Obsession
    While few of the Hammer horror films took themselves too seriously it was in the 1970s when the cycle became almost a parody of itself and "Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter" is perhaps the best example of this. Although it is a little known film it is certainly one of the best horrors, largely due to its original take on the vampire theme and imaginative, albeit risky, casting.

    Rather than offer the audience another Christopher Lee dominated vampire flick, "Kronos" features Horst Janson in the title role and he is essentially the Clint Eastwood character from the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns. This means Kronos is unstoppable with a sword and can kill several men with one quick swish of his blade, best displayed when the brilliant Ian Hendry and his mob make the mistake of picking a fight with him.

    It is important not to take the film or the cast too seriously as this is essentially a comedy-horror. There are several very amusing scenes such as when Kronos and his hunchbacked helper struggle to find a way to destroy a particularly nasty vampire, making light of the many and varied ways to supposedly kill one of the undead.

    Like all Hammer Horror films "Kronos" benefits from having a short 90- minute running time, concentrating more on action and bloodletting than the idle chat that typified Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula". It is also good to see a vampire film in which the hero is dangerous and unpredictable and not entirely wholesome such as the Van Helsing character often is.

    Anyone who found "Blade" to be too noisy and over-the-top (karate and vampires do not go together) should watch "Kronos" which is essentially the same film but far more subtle - like the difference between using a scalpel and a chainsaw.
  • comment
    • Author: Jaberini
    In the early seventies, faced with competition from more visceral and explicit censor-busting movies such as The Exorcist, The Devils, Don't Look Now, etc, Hammer were already past their sell-by date. Their home-spun and hokey low-budget potboilers were fast losing ground, shored up by the failing gimmickry of bringing Dracula into the 20th century (AD '72 and Satanic Rites) and upping the female nudity content whilst adding strong exploitative lesbian overtones to their vamp flicks (The Vampire Lovers, Lust For A Vampire).

    It couldn't last, and it didn't.

    Kronos can be seen as either a brave experiment or a foolhardy stab at creating a life-preserver for the studio. The original idea was for a series of Kronos movies to be produced, and it's not a bad premise. Swashbuckling hero with academic hunchback sidekick in tow gallops around rustic non-specific locales as a vampire slaying troubleshooter. What's not to like? Clemens and Fennel had been brought in by the studio to give it new life. Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde had been a box office success so their agenda continued with Kronos. It failed to click with the masses and rapidly slipped off the box office radar before hardly registering a blip.

    Adding to it's problems was the fact that the BBFC gave it a AA certificate, which made it suitable for viewing by 14 year olds and up. Audiences at the time were far more interested in adult themed shockers awarded the "for adults only" X certificate. The teen demographic it may have appealed to as a result were equally disinterested.

    To the film itself. Dr Marcus enlists the help of old army comrade Captain Kronos when local girls are found drained not of blood, but of youth, and left to die as ravaged old crones. Kronos and his assistant, Grost, arrive with sultry Caroline Munro (Carla - token crumpet and sex object) and begin their investigations - much to the chagrin of the local mob and secretive arbitrary gentry (the Durward family). It doesn't take a genius with a slide-rule to figure out who is responsible for what.

    Horst Janson looks the part as Kronos - agile, virile, blonde, athletic and cool - but acts with all the charisma of a cinder-block. Still, the film is a blast. The twists on the vampire legend, the well choreographed sword-fights (especially the climactic duel), the sparse and doom-laden atmosphere it invokes with almost nil special effects to speak of, minimalist sets and landscapes, positions it apart from its stable-mates. When Kronos kills three hired thugs in a bar in less than a heartbeat with a single sword slash, the reference point is resolutely Spaghetti Western. The movie draws on its influences (Yojimbo, Leone, Scaramouche, etc) and fashions them into a unique viewing experience.

    There are nods to counter culture - Kronos smokes dope ("A Chinese herb" he explains) and indulges in sado-masochistic sex (suggested, not shown). With a better more high-profile lead actor and some production values he, the film and the projected series could have been contenders. As it was, we are left with one of the most individual and distinctive pieces Hammer ever churned out.

    It's a standalone cult classic that demands appreciation by a new and differently informed audience. Rather than label it a failed experiment, I prefer to think of it as ahead of its time.
  • comment
    • Author: Beranyle
    Was Horst Janson really forty years old when he made this? Damn, the man looked good!

    Horst plays Captain Kronos, a man who wears a snappy uniform and hunts youth-draining vampires in the company of an affable hunchback. He also wears a bag on his head as part of some bizarre meditative ritual. Aside from the bag-wearing part, he's a solid action hero, and it's a shame that Hammer never turned this good little movie into one of its long-running franchises.

    The acting is a highlight: John "don't call me Johnny" Carson gives one of his typically likable and neurotic performances as Doctor Marcus, Wanda Ventham makes a lovely villainess, and Ian Hendry has an amusing cameo as an obnoxious thug (how the mighty had fallen, though -wasn't he a star at one point?). There's also great lines aplenty and some nice choreography for the sword-fights.

    This is the kind of movie that Full Moon - or for that matter, Dimension films - wishes it could make. Alas, modern horror is usually too gross and uninventive to match the charm and creativity of a Hammer "classic" such as "Captain Kronos."
  • comment
    • Author: MeGa_NunC
    This was one of the best vampire films I have ever seen. It's an interesting take in which a swash-buckling English swordsman and his hunchback companion hunt vampires in 19th century pastoral England. The action is intense, the damsels are beautiful, and the ending is satisfying. This movie is like The Searchers, the Lone Ranger, and Monty Python's the Holy Grail all in one. The scene where they try different methods to kill one of their friends who will soon turn into a vampire was (I think) unintentionally hilarious. They stake him, hang him, and burn him to no avail. You can feel the "aw, shucks" attitude of the scene, even from the guy who's trying to die! The emotional level never seems to get above this level. If you like the new Mummy movie, you'll like this, although the special effects in this one are kind of weak, but the spirit is there! Find this one, you won't be disappointed.
  • comment
    • Author: Nikok
    Captain Kronos is a bit on the corny side but it is fun to watch. Captain Kronos is a swashbuckling vampire hunter that is reminiscent of a comic book superhero. He was featured in a grand total of 4 Hammer Magazine Comics: The House of Hammer » 3 issues (#1, #2, #3) and Hammer's Halls of Horror » 1 issue (#20).

    The movie is decent - funny sometimes. It's not a bad afternoon film. It's quite fun to watch, has a pretty good story, good costuming and sets, and a dashing, daring vampire hunter named Captain Kronos!

    Basically if you like vampire stories, a comic book feel to a film, swashbuckling, and a film that does not take itself to seriously then you might enjoy Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter. It's entertaining!

  • comment
    • Author: Cobyno
    Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter is written and directed by Brian Clemens. It stars Horst Janson, John Cater, John Carson, Caroline Munro, Shane Briant, Lois Daine and Wanda Ventham. Out of Hammer Film Productions, music is by Laurie Johnson and cinematography by Ian Wilson.

    Swashbuckling vampire slayer Captain Kronos (Janson) answers the call of his friend Dr. Marcus (Carson) to investigate the mysterious goings on in the village of Durward. Young women are being drained of all their youth, left at deaths door old and haggard. Aided by his trusty hunchbacked assistant, Professor Grost (Cater), Kronos' search for the truth takes him to the Durward family estate…

    One of the last great Hammer Horror movies, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter has done well to rise through the decades as a sort of culty camp horror classic. Initial plans were for it to hopefully kick start a series that would see Kronos fighting evil at any given place in time; Doctor Who with a sword and a taste for the ladies if you like. Clemens had some grand ideas for the movie, but was quickly brought down to earth when he was handed the production's paltry budget. Barely released in Britain with little to no publicity, and this nearly two years after the film had wrapped! Kronos has had to fight more than one battle just to get recognised. Thankfully the advancements in home entertainments have ensured it a deserved place in the upper echelons of Hammer's output.

    The film is a collage of genres, part horror, part comedy, part swashbuckler adventure and part saucy seaside postcard romp, but it all works so well in the pursuit of making the audience have a good time. The writing flips the vampire legend away from the norm, infusing the narrative with a new vampyric foe. This crafty sod can operate in the daytime as it drains not blood, but youth! As the genius Professor Grost tells us, there are many types of vampires, and different methods are needed to execute any of them on any given day. So this isn't a case of Kronos tracking down the guilty and using one of the trusty old methods used on Drac, oh no! Kronos and Grosty have to use trial and error to see what will work for this particular beastie. Wonderful!

    On his journey Kronos liberates a beauty from the stocks, poor Carla (Munro) was found guilty of dancing on a Sunday, she can count herself lucky it wasn't a stronger punishment. So cue mucho sexual shenanigans and barely concealed innuendo between the two pretty ones, with suggestive conversations about having each other and some fondling of the sword. Kronos will also waylay bullies, he has no tolerance for meat heads and cuts them down faster than Zorro ever could. This guy is a hero to the common people, an action man of substance and cunning guile, he likes to drink and toke, it's criminal that he didn't get his own series or sequels.

    Under scrutiny the low budget is evident, where bare minimum of set dressing for the interiors and extended exterior shots are a necessity, while you might be surprised to realise there actually isn't that many people in the story! But Clemens does a marvellous job with what he had to work with, really zipping it along and blending so many genre flavours with consummate ease. It's a shame this was to be his only film directing effort. He even gets sparky performances from his cast, managing to sexualise Munro without flashing the flesh and turning Janson's stiffness into one of the film's assets!

    Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, a ball of fun that sticks its tongue firmly into its pulpy bloody strewn cheek. 8/10
  • comment
    • Author: Dukinos
    Wow, was Hammer Studios going in a different direction with this film! While it is once again a horror film (the bread & butter for this film company), it's so unlike all their other films! While it's a vampire film, you see no trace of Christopher Lee or even Peter Cushing--and the style is so totally unlike their films. Instead, the film stars a very hot guy (Captain Kronos) and he always seems to have a hot lady in tow. This vampire hunter, however, is NOT to be confused for Dr. Van Helsing. Not only does he look nothing like Cushing, but how he kills the vampires and the types of vampires are all-new! These vampires are not so much blood drinkers but creatures that suck the youth out of people--and you then see them age rapidly when they fall prey to these new vampires. And, since the vampires are different, so is killing them. Many different ways are used--some of which are wacky and new--such as impaling, hanging and burning one (wow--he was tough to kill!!). And, finally, the story is just so very different.

    According to IMDb, Hammer was planning on a new series of Kronos films but canceled it due to the poor reception this film received. I can't really understand it, as the film was quite good and sexy--and an invigorating change--with a wild ending!
  • comment
    • Author: Xwnaydan
    This is a really fun film. Sexy Horst Janson is Captain Kronos, a mysterious, no-nonsense man who travels the countryside with his hunchbacked assistant, looking for Vampires to kill. Playing his part like a naughty Dudley Do-Right, Janson is superb with both sword and superior intellect, just as quick to drop a foe with a cutting remark as with a blade. Sultry Caroline Munro is here as well, playing Kronos's ballsy (but sadly fleeting) love interest Carla, a woman ahead of her time. Something (or someone?!) is stalking beautiful young peasant girls, draining them of their life force and leaving withered hags in the place of fresh faced teenagers. It is up to Captain Kronos and his friends to hunt the fiend (or is it fiends?) down, before another innocent beauty dies.

    The dialogue is wonderfully upbeat and clever, the action is as fun as a rollercoaster ride and the performances are all great. This is one of Hammer's absolute best films, innovative and witty and just really damn FUN! You don't have to be a vampire fan to enjoy this one. There's something in it for everyone. Don't miss it!
  • comment
    • Author: Daiktilar
    I first heard about Captain Kronos (or Kronos, if you like) in a book, Adventure Heroes, by Jeff Rovin. It was an encyclopedia of mythological, literary, and cinematic heroes. Konos sounded intriguing, a soldier who hunts down and slays vampires, with the assistance of Prof. Grost and a gypsy girl.

    I finally found a VHS copy and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I'm not much of a horror fan (too many nightmares as a kid) but I loved this one. It has a nice blend of adventure and horror. It is also very inventive, by making the identifying, tracking, and slaying of the vampire a difficult task. unlike Dracula, it takes more than a stake through the heart or or daylight to destroy the vampire. Each one is different, with different weaknesses.

    Horst Janson is excellent as Kronos, a former soldier in the Imperial Army, although which empire is never stated (I would assume Austro-Hungarian). He has the right touch of deadly demeanor, cool thinking, and melancholy air of a tragic hero. He is both protector and outcast, who surrounds himself with outcasts. John Carter's Prof. Grost is even better. He is a deformed figure with a great intellect and charm. Caroline Munro adds a bit of sex appeal, if not much gravitas.

    The scenes are staged well and you are kept guessing about the vampire. The scenes where Kronos and Grost attempt to determine the vampire's weakness are both grisly and fascinating.

    It's a shame that Hammer was in its death throes, as this could have been the basis for a great franchise. As it is, it's a wonderful film that has been steadily ripped off, from the Japanese Vampire Hunter D, to Buffy and Blade. It owes its origin to Dr Van Helsing, but does him one better with a sense of flair and adventure. This is definitely worth watching for any vampire fan, horror enthusiast, or lover of adventure. The DVD is a bargain, with a great commentary track.
  • comment
    • Author: Munimand
    Wow! This DVD sat among my collection of Hammer films for months and I finally got around to watching it tonight after the numerous times I almost picked it off my shelf and then choose to watch other titles. If I'd known how good it would be, I'd have watched it ages ago.

    I have to rate it highly for its sheer inventiveness and the new ideas it brings to the vampire mythos. The vampire genre has become as stale as the zombie genre over the years, but this past gem still holds some surprises for jaded movie fans. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed what writer/director Clemens added to vampire lore for his little world in this film, from the suggestion of different types of vampires requiring different methods to dispatch them and ideas for detecting vampires, which I hadn't previously encountered in other films.

    Basic plot: Kronos is a vampire hunter who, in addition to a wealth of knowledge of (previously unknown) vampire lore, uses a Japanese katana as well as European style swords and a variety of methods to battle his nemeses with the help a his hunchbacked sidekick. I won't pick apart plot points because this film deserved to be experienced without going into it knowing too much.

    The cast does a great job, especially those in key roles. The gorgeous genre film starlet Caroline Munro does well here in addition to the usual stable of attractive females you've come to expect from Hammer films (used here mostly as vampire fodder). For film students and cineastes, there is some very good camera-work and editing here including a very nice suspenseful reveal shot sequence later in the film.

    As others have said, while not among the Terence Fisher and other often considered A list titles, this IS one of Hammer's most underrated films and is much better than any of Christopher Lee's later Dracula films. It is a shame that Brian Clemens (who also wrote this and Golden Voyage of Sinbad) never directed again and never got to see this become a film franchise as he had hoped. Considering all the lame film franchises and remakes we see these days, it's sad that the UK film industry hasn't seen fit to get the rights to these characters and have Clemens write some sequels and hire a talented director and cast to bring back these characters. Sadly, it is past time to have some of the original cast reprise their roles. If I make it into the industry, those would be sequels (if done right) that I'd actually be proud to be involved with.

    As a fan of the vampire genre (when done well), I think this has to be among my top ten list of vampire films along with: Browning's Dracula (1931), Schumacher's The Lost Boys (1987), Bigelow's Near Dark, Romero's Martin, Merhige's Shadow of the Vampire, Fisher's Horror of Dracula (1958), del Toro's Cronos, etc. It is definitely in any top 20 vampire film list I could conceive of making. This might even make my top 10 Hammer list. Most modern vampire films aren't as good as "Captain Kronos". Let's just hope the newest upcoming attempt at bringing Richard Matheson's classic story "I Am Legend" to the screen doesn't suck as badly as I fear it will.

    I highly recommend this film to all vampire and Hammer fans. I only wish there were more adventures of Captain Kronos for us to enjoy.
  • comment
    • Author: Nikobar
    An excellent, atypical addition to the Hammer cycle which breathes life into some of the old vampire clichés that Hammer were keen to use at the time, thanks to a tongue-in-cheek script and direction from AVENGERS man Brian Clemens. A good cast, fine photography, a wonderfully evocative music score and a good eye for pacing make this a highly enjoyable, intelligent film, and definitely one of Hammer's best - full stop.

    Thing begin well in the best Hammer tradition as a girl, picking flowers in a lush woodland, is attacked by a black-caped vampire whose face is kept hidden for most of the movie (adding a murder mystery slant to the proceedings). The local village doctor, Marcus, played by veteran John Carson - on the rare side of good this time - calls in his old war buddy Kronos to help out, and here the fun begins. On his arrival, Kronos frees a gypsy girl from the stocks, played by Caroline Munro. Munro has an underwritten role as per usual but she's sufficiently glamorous for the part.

    Along with Kronos comes the hunchback Grost, played to perfection by John Cater. Grost is a most unusual character, who hunts for vampires by burying dead toads in boxes around the area. However, this isn't as weird as it sounds, as apparently when a vampire passes it will cause the toad to return to life, as is proved later on in the film. There is much enjoyment to be gained from watching this film, not least from the fun Clemens and co. have from playing with vampire folklore in general. For example, here the victims are not drained of blood, but actually drained of life, so that they are discovered withered and aged when dead. Along with the aforementioned dead toads, there are lots of other neat little ideas to look out for, like when time actually stops for a few seconds. The vampire also wilts flowers and mushrooms when passing them by in the wood, a clever effect if ever I saw one.

    The special effects are actually quite limited in this film, although what appears is pretty good. The old-age makeup looks realistic, and there's a brief vampire dissolve in the best Dracula tradition. The film isn't very gory for the period, although there is a bloody bat attack and a cool scene where a man loses his arms after being run over by a coach. The acting is generally spot-on, with few exceptions. Horst Janson makes for an athletic and interesting hero, and he is given nice, odd touches of characterisation like the fact that he smokes and uses leeches on his back to clear his mind. Cater is brilliant as his assistant, and as I mentioned Caroline Munro provides sufficient glamour if not acting ability. John Carson is excellent as per usual in his sympathetic turn, and Shane Briant is fine. Ian Hendry turns up briefly but is magnificent as a cruel goon who finds himself on the receiving end of Janson's sword in a bar-room battle. Although some of the lesser actresses aren't that good, both Wanda Ventham and Lois Daine have fine, strong roles.

    Other bits to look out for include some nice references to westerns and adventure films of the past, like the scene where Janson takes out Hendry and two of his men in a swift movement, with the sword replacing a revolver in this case. The ending is also a good one. There's a brilliant sword fight which recalls THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and all of the swashbucklers that have come since, and doesn't disappoint in the least. Finally, the fine photography brings out the atmosphere of the British countryside, especially effective in some spooky (daylight) graveyard sequences. I would say that this neglected Hammer classic offers up a bit of everything for the genre fan and proves to be one of their best.
  • comment
    • Author: Wenes
    Saw this during a night of insomnia and liked it a lot. I know nothing of Hammer Films history or the horror genre generally. But I liked so many of the details and I'm sure I missed as many as I saw. Crooked candelabras, odd camera angles, spooky lighting and bombastic proclamations by overconfident undead built atmosphere and period. Though what period, I'm not too sure. Hints and suggestion substituted for budget: example; the special chapel cross. The borrowed/re-purposed/homage/stolen (pick one) scenes from other styles: Greek mythology: Medusa can't deal with a mirror. Western: The bar scene where the wronged lass is avenged by the heroic fighter. Kung Du: The simple ten against one fight in the cemetery where the minions respectfully wait their turns to be clocked by the leading man. The payoff sword fight wasn't much of a surprise and the vampire had a bad-guy sword; one that can only inflict minor cuts on the hero, nothing mortal despite several opportunities. The hyper-speed that I'd been using as an explanation for the Captains successes was not in evidence or maybe I missed it. The local villages must have been pretty special places. Their population seems to not have included any ugly maidens. However after this movie, there may not be any maidens left at all. They sure got rid of a lot of them. All in all, definitely entertaining and worth a watch.
  • comment
    • Author: Cheber
    Prepare to be hammered by Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter. He's a swashbuckling, brooding, silent type who cavorts across the countryside with his assistant, Prof. Grost, who is a hunchbacked sort of Dr.-Watson-Meets-Hephaestus. As you will learn well into the storyline, Kronos's family was attacked by vampires, so now he has to repay the "species" a thousandfold by hunting them down in the, well, dead of day, actually, and learning along the way that vampires are a varied species that must be snuffed in a multitude of ways as no one set of rules works for all of them(a nice twist).

    The score is adequate, and in some places, rousing. Acting is somewhat of "Horst of another color." Janson is tolerable as Cap'n Kronos, sometimes delivering his lines very well, other times you might groan. If I were to cast a remake, I'd lovingly place Dave Mustaine in the lead with John Hurt as his quasimodo-in-tow. Anyway, I know plenty of horror fans dig this film and there is a lot to be said for it 35 years later. Part of its appeal would lie in when you watched the movie, though. If you are a geezer like me and waited until you were older to see this, it certainly won't have the same attraction as it might for a kid in high school in the 70's. This is not to say it's a bad film or even really dated. You just have to be in the right mindset when you start watching or you'll end up being too critical. Personally, I'd have preferred more swordplay and a few more vampiric slayings. The swordfight in the cemetery is beyond pathetic and at least the cinematographer was able to clean up the shortcomings a bit with fast camera-work. However, the sword fight at the end is considerably better and will make up for the one previously derided.

    There are a bevy of beauties in the film, including the delicious Caroline Munro, so there's no shortage of flesh, although nudity is kept in the shadows. If you are a careful viewer, and I know you are, you'll spot the main baddie rather early on, but that doesn't necessarily spoil things. Perhaps the best thing about this movie is not so much the action or dialogue as the uber-creepy vampire moving about the countryside, mainly in the forests, donning a black shroud and sucking the youth out of the fair maidens. The fact the vampire's face is not shown until the end greatly helps the film, which has little in the way of effects or gore.

    Today, we have Van Helsing and the late-in-coming Solomon Kane as a sort of modern cinematic Captain Kronos, but that doesn't mean his character couldn't live on in more stories. I'm sure there are enough fans of this film to warrant his resurrection.
  • comment
    • Author: Celore
    Sometimes a good movie fails for no very good reason. By 1974, the whole glorious cycle of Hammer Horrors, the long weekend four-horrors-beginning-at-midnight cycle was losing its audience, turning to slicker and more expensive Hollywood productions.

    Captain Kronos, infused with the campy pop-culture verve and schlock aesthetic of the late sixties/early seventies British sensibility, was, with it's comic-book feel, also ahead of its time, a completely new and inventive take on the whole vampire ethos. The hero was also a little wooden for the cigar-smoking, womanising rogue vampire hunter that he played. And the movie is, compared to other late Hammer ventures, a little lacking in babes and nudity. Nevertheless it deserves to stand with them as one of the very best Hammer productions. An interesting story that never stops moving, a fine ensemble cast, beautiful and lush photography, characters that are lively and full of interest, Kronos was a creative, unexpected and confident take on the vampire genre and one that was enjoyed by almost everyone that got the chance to see it. Not as transgressive as Vampire Circus, it nevertheless breaks the box in terms of the expected. A fine vampire movie and one of the best B movie vampire productions ever, Kronos never disappoints.
  • comment
    • Author: Biaemi
    Long before genre-bending movies like SURIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO were being hailed as something heretofore unknown, there were movies like LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES and CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER. Like the vampires in Colin Wilson's LIFEFORCE, the vampires in CAPTAIN KRONOS suck the very Life out of their victims. Kronos, himself, is a cross between Clint Eastwood and Toshiro Mifune- without the presence of either. Horst does a passable if somewhat pedestrian job as the lead (like the title character in the anime VAMPIRE HUNTER D), but he clearly lacks the physical skill to pull off, say, the kind of swordplay one finds in the Rueben Mamoullian remake of THE MARK OF ZORRO (the duel between Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone has to be one of the greatest sword fights in the history of cinema). Storywise, KRONOS is endlessly inventive, and director Clemens pretty much nails it when it comes to shot composition throughout. The remake (BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) wasn't as good, in my opinion, but the idea is still good enough to warrant another chance.
  • comment
    • Author: Beazerdred
    "Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter" of 1974 is certainly not one of the most brilliant films from the immortal Hammer Studios, but it is definitely a stylish and highly memorable immensely entertaining vampire flick, a typical product of the 70s, and a little gem of super-cool macho cinema. This very humorous horror flick that doesn't take itself very seriously may lack the extreme creepiness and haunting Gothic atmosphere of Hammer's masterpieces, but it features a lot of originality, great action, a great sense of humor and one of the coolest vampire hunters in motion picture history - Captain Kronos - in exchange.

    The eponymous hero is played by the German actor Horst Janson. Janson may not be a great acting talent, but he greatly fits in his role of the ass-kicking vampire-killing-machine Captain Kronos, and his thick accent makes the character even cooler. Kronos is the epitome of coolness, a master swordsman and former soldier with a fat 'K' signet ring on his finger and a samurai sword as a weapon of choice who always has a cigar in the corner of his mouth. He is assisted in his profession by the hunchbacked Professor Hieronymus Grost (John Cater), who does all the work for him, since Kronos has to save his strength for the vampire killing. The two are furthermore accompanied by the stunningly hot Carla (beautiful Caroline Munro, who was in quite a bunch of memorable horror films) whom Kronos has freed from the pillories... I don't want to give too much of the story away, but I can assure that the movie is worth the time. It may lack the suspense of other Hammer flicks, but it is an extremely stylish piece of cult-cinema that entertains like hardly another film. Every fan of stylish cinema should give this a try, for my fellow Hammer-fans "Kronos" is a must-see! Highly recommended!
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Horst Janson Horst Janson - Kronos
    John Carson John Carson - Dr. Marcus
    Shane Briant Shane Briant - Paul Durward
    Caroline Munro Caroline Munro - Carla
    John Cater John Cater - Grost
    Lois Daine Lois Daine - Sara Durward
    Ian Hendry Ian Hendry - Kerro
    Wanda Ventham Wanda Ventham - Lady Durward
    William Hobbs William Hobbs - Hagen
    Brian Tully Brian Tully - George Sorell
    Robert James Robert James - Pointer
    Perry Soblosky Perry Soblosky - Barlow
    Paul Greenwood Paul Greenwood - Giles
    Lisa Collings Lisa Collings - Vanda Sorell
    John Hollis John Hollis - Barman
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