Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974)

Article 3200 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-24-2010
Posting Date: 5-19-2010
Directed by Brian Clemens
Featuring Horst Janson, John Carson, Shane Briant
Country: UK
What it is: Interesting period vampire flick

A master swordsman roams the countryside with his hunchbacked assistant in search of vampires.

For attempting to take the vampire concept in an exciting new direction, I applaud Hammer for making this movie. It was the first of an intended series, and I can see how it might have made a dandy one; in particular, I liked the concept that there are different strains of vampires that require different means of dispatching them. Unfortunately, the movie was a box office failure, and, rather than inaugurating a series, it contributed to Hammer’s decline. Upon watching it, I can think of three possible reasons it failed. One is that the title character really needed to be a fun, energetic, fascinating character in his own right, but Horst Janson simply doesn’t fit the bill; though I can’t say he was sleep-walking through the role, he doesn’t appear to be having any fun, leaving John Cater (who does appear to know what is needed here) as Grost the hunchback as the most interesting character here. Secondly, given that the movie does aspire to being at least partially a swashbuckler, it needs to directed with verve and energy to do justice to Brian Clemens’s script; unfortunately, Brian Clemens also undertakes directing for the first and only time in his career, and his pacing is far too deliberate and leaden to bring this one to life. Thirdly, the score itself, which should also energetic and rousing, is for the most part missing in action, and when it is there, it’s aspiring to a dour moodiness instead. The end result is a movie that, despite the interesting script, isn’t anywhere near as much fun as it should be.

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