Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 04/29/04 17:10:50

"One of Hammer's best (and strangest) concoctions."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

One of the final flicks in the original Hammer Horror canon and a hugely adored cult flick (at least it is across the pond, as they say) Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (also known as just plain Kronos) is equal parts gothic vampiric horror, semi-swashbuckling adventure, and sly, winking satire.

Kronos came in at the tail-end of Hammer's long series of vampire movies, at a time when the studio was on a relative downswing.

In an effort to appease the ever-fickle throngs of horror fans, the Hammer studio wedged their vamps into all sorts of oddball amalgams (including an insane kung-fu co-production with Shaw Brothers entitled The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires), though as far as the curiosities go...Captain Kronos is the one that's probably aged most entertainingly.

The rather wooden German actor Horst Janson is Kronos; John Carson plays his surprisingly clever (and hunchbacked) assistant, Dr. Marcus. Together the pair, not unlike an early ancestor of our beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer roam in Olde English countryside while ridding the area of those dastardly bloodsuckers.

Notable (and memorable) mainly for its tongue-in-cheek approach and that certain air of weirdness that comes part & parcel with the best of the Hammer productions, Captain Kronos keeps the horror hounds on their toes by presenting the undead beasties in a decidedly new light. These vampires aim to rob victims of their "youth force" as opposed to blood, plus there are all sorts of wacky new rules on what it takes to kill one of the youth-suckers. These deviations from formula may rankle some of the Dracula Purists out there, but the changes serve to make Kronos a rather unique little curiosity.

There are, of course, heaping helpings of stagy acting, bizarre effects, not to mention the inevitable slow spots that occur so often in the Hammer fare. (Overall, I'm not a real big fan of this studio's stuff, you see.) But taken as a precursor to the self-referential and frequently ironic sort of horror found in Scream and The Lost Boys, the movie holds up surprisingly well.

A strangely endearing old chestnut, and one that any self-respecting horror fan will eventually want to check out for themselves.

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