Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)

I feel like I don’t review enough older movies on this here blog. So far this year, I’ve reviewed 6 movies that came out before the year 2000, and four of those were from the 1990’s. Sure, these more recent movies are of a different quality compared to that of older films–both in production value and content–but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some amazing old movies! And Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is… okay, maybe not one of the greats, but it was a perfectly passable film!

Swashbuckling vampire hunter captain Kronos is called to investigate a series of mysterious deaths where the victims rapidly age. I say that every vampire story gives the undead different abilities, and apparently here the vampire is draining the youth from people, more so than blood. Along for the ride is Kronos’ hunchback assistant, Grost, and a gyp–hmm, nope, we don’t use that word anymore. And a “wandering woman” named Carla. The investigation is hampered by local thugs wanting to show off how tough they are, but Kronos kills them all with his… katana? Sure. Then the guy who summoned Kronos becomes a vampire, and through trial and error we find out that having his skin pierced by a metal crucifix kills him instantly. So of course Kronos and Grost melt a crucifix down and forge it into the hilt of a sword. That’s almost cross-shaped! There are a few leaps of logic in this movie…

Captain Kronos had two twists that surprised me, a person seeing it decades after this was made. The first is that Kronos is not actually a vampire, or even a half-vampire! Blade had his Marvel Comics debut in 1973, so it’s not like that trope wasn’t around back then, but no, Kronos is just a very skilled human. Sure, he was bitten by a vampire, but he survived with some scars on the back of his neck and a vendetta against the undead.

The other twist is who the vampire actually was, in part because the movie really leaned heavily on pointing the blame on a pair of rich siblings who talk about how they detest aging. But no, it’s their mother who actually is the vampire, much to their shock. And mine. So, let me have an aside for a minute. Once upon a time I watched Ten Little Indians, a murder mystery adaptation of “And Then There Were None,” the only title of that novel I’m going to recognize. One character is killed by a gunshot to the head, and the movie shows this by placing a black dot on his forehead. Sure, it’s 1965, special effects aren’t that special yet, and the movie didn’t want to do too much blood splatter; I see what they’re doing. But it turns out that guy is the murderer and faked his death by placing the tip of a pool cue on his forehead and pretending to be dead. I had fallen for his ruse which normally wouldn’t have fooled me, under the idea that the movie was cheap rather than clever. Well, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter did something similar with the mother character. She’s shown to be bed-ridden and old, with something smeared all over her face. I assumed this was some bad makeup in an attempt to make the actress look older than she was, but nope! It was a mask she was wearing to hide her rejuvenation from her children. I’ll give you that one, movie; you got me.

Unfortunately, that twist couldn’t save this film. Hammer Film Productions was on the decline in the 1970’s, as demonstrated by this film being finished in 1972 but not released until two years later. This was intended to be the first of a series of Captain Kronos movies, but that never manifested. The best we got is a comic book sequel in 2017. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter wasn’t a bad film, but I’ve seen so many better vampire movies that were made since this was released.

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