When mapping out my treasure hunt into Hammer's chest of riches (see part 1 and part 2 of this series), nothing could have prepared me for the sheer blinding awesome that is 1974's Captain Kronos- Vampire Hunter. A quick and dirty glance over appropriate IMDB'age reveals that this is apparently the film that was Hammer Horror's iceberg; it's failure to resonate with audiences began the slow death of this storied production company. Having digested all Kronos has to offer, I can't even contemplate how this is possible.
Captain Kronos the man is a hardcore former soldier who's devoted his life to discovering vampire scourges and combating them at every turn. A master swordsman, he's a fantastic physical specimen; honed to both physical and mental edged perfection. He's a face melting metal bad ass traveling about the 1700's European country side, routing riotous villagers and bedding beautiful buxom Caroline Monroe.
He's accompanied by a faithful hunchbacked companion, who refuses to conform to normal cinematic stereotypes. Professor Hieronymus Grost is an arcane lore master of all things vampiric, musing at one point that "there are as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey". He's a charming and charismatic personality, a master blacksmith, a stalwart companion and a great character. I absolutely loved every scene he's in, most especially the "chess scene" between him and Dr. Marcus.
It's evident from the outset that Hammer was attempting a reinvention of both vampire folklore and also themselves. Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter was designed to be a the first of a long running series staring rugged pre-Viggo Mortenson Horst Janson. He's contacted by an old war buddy, Dr.Marcus, to investigate the strange cases of young girls who are being found rapidly progressed to chronologically challenged hag status. Along the way Kronos frees a young, buxom Caroline Monroe from roadside stocks and invites her along to sexy ends. There's such a marvelous mystery presented within, that I've already said enough and will leave the baton at your feet to run with.
Sadly the film did very poorly at theaters (perhaps American audiences were worn out on Hammer by this point?) and so nothing ever came beyond this one film. Thinking back on it now in the rear view, Captain Kronos -Vampire Hunter was a decades forward thinking flick. The scientific method meets folk legend approach to reasoning out vampiric haunts and weaknesses heavily feels like best parts Hellboy and the logical explanation and methodical implementation of weapons and gadgets (all period appropriate) shows shades of these same aspects as presented in Batman Begins.
Captain Kronos- Vampire Hunter is a swashbuckling, euro-gothic, manly-fisticuffs good time. It was sadly passed over and almost forgotten but now you can check it out on Netflix streaming. Try on something new, something sheer, something that might not be your size but might feel so nice next to your skin.