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Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
AKA: 
Kronos
Release Date: 
1974
Studio: 
Paramount
Genre: 
Vampire
Format: 
DVD
Region: 
1 NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 
1.85:1
Directed by: 
Brian Clemens
Cast: 
Horst Janson
John Carson
Caroline Munro
Movie: 
5
Extras: 
3
Bottom Line: 
4

Equal parts Don Quixote and Abe Van Helsing, Captain Kronos (Janson) was a franchise waiting to happen. Made during the final years of Hammer Studio's reign as the house of horror, Kronos' is widely considered the last classic offering from the legendary company.

A small village is being preyed upon by a mysterious predator who sucks the life out of young woman, leaving them aged beyond their years and at death's door. Upon discovering the first victim, Dr. Marcus (Carson) summons his old friend Kronos, a master swordsman and war hero, to help to eradicate the fiend. Kronos, and his hunchbacked assistant, Dr. Hieronymous Grost (Cater), are professional vampire hunters, sworn to rid the world of the undead scourge who claimed the life of Kronos' mother and sister upon his return from "the war". With a lovely young drifter (Munro) in tow, the hunter's arrive in Marcus' village and begin the search for this caped beastie who stalks it's prey by day, and seemingly operates outside the normal parameters of vampiric behaviour (for example, one victim is attacked inside of a church!). Grost explains that there are as many species of vampire as there are of any other predator, and that this creature is like nothing they've encountered before! As more lives are claimed, Kronos and his band of hunters scour the countryside, but Marcus, his judgement clouded by guilt, may know more than he's letting on.

Kronos is a fantastically funny and entertaining horror/adventure romp. While the tone of the film is somewhat serious, it's tongue is firmly in cheek as it pokes fun at the genre Hammer made famous. The hero, Kronos, is a magnificently over confident dandy who spouts off hilariously macho dialogue (at one point, the drifter Carla is asked about staying on with the group. "If you'll have me", she says, to witch Kronos replies; "Oh, I most certainly will.") His "mastery" of the sword is displayed in clumsy sword fights in which his opponents all seem to walk into his blade's path as Kronos sort of ducks, spins, and stabs at air. It's obviously done for laughs, and it's hilarious to watch as Carla and Cater look on clapping and laughing as Kronos kills off a dozen or so villagers who think he's just murdered one of their most respected citizens. Actually, Kronos does more harm than good, racking up a higher body count than the vampire, simply by killing anyone who looks at him funny. There's a scene in a pub in which Grost is made sport of by three villagers, all of which are dispatched by Kronos with one swish of the sword. For a man whose sworn to rid the world of the undead, he certainly takes his share of the living with him!!

Paramount presents this classic on DVD for the first time in Region 1, and even manages to wrangle up a commentary track that features actress Caroline Munro, director Clemens, and Hammer expert, Jonathan Sothcott. It's a witty and lively conversation that's almost as funny as the film itself, and a welcome extra. The film is presented in a very nice widescreen anamorphic transfer that's clean and mostly grain free save for the darkest moments (of which there are few since the low budget forced much of the night shots to be filmed in daylight).

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is a brilliant and campy horror classic that is just pure exhilarating fun. It's got enough laughs, action, and chills to entertain just about everyone with a pulse. Own this!

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