Sunday, July 31, 2016

"Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter" (1974) d/ Brian Clemens

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Tonight we look at one of the odder vampire flicks in the Hammer canon, a strange mixture of action, comedy, and horror, that showcases some excellent cinematography and moments of genuine atmosphere in bringing a vastly different genre experience to the silver screen than the familiar Lee/Cushing formula that the studio regularly churned out in their heyday. Once intended to be the first in a series of films chronicling the adventures of the good Captain, poor box office returns made certain that would never happen, after the production stagnated on the shelf for two years before finally being released. This would also mark the final appearance of scream queen Caroline Munro for the studios, who were experiencing a marked decline at this point.

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Kronos is unsure where the vampires are, while Grost (John Cater) has a hunch.
After freeing a  comely 19th century gyppo bird named Carla (Caroline Munro) from the stocks, the dynamic team of Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) and Professor Grost (John Cater) gallop across the European countryside in search of active blood sippers, who differ greatly from their conventional neck-supping counterparts, in that they drain the life energy from their victims rather than the usual red vino on tap, leaving behind withered (yet alive, if only briefly) husks of humanity as evidence. Kronos is a former Dragoon who was forced to depart his own wife and child from existence when they showed signs of vampirism. He's joined by his pal Heironymous, a crook-backed member of academia whose specialty is dispatching fanged types. Carla hitches a ride with the duo offering them her assistance, and even regular gyppo trim for the blonde hero, though she denies Grost the same benefits, as hunchbacks must not be her bag, man. Along the way, Kronos is forced to come to the aid of his deformed chum in a pub, when three local toughs mock him. Did I mention Kronos is a master swordsman? Yeah, he really isn't.

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"Flappy brought mommy her strawberry preserves! Mommy loooooves her lil' Flappy..."
On their journey, they follow the trail of innocent peasant girls with the life sucked out of 'em like so many Mountain Dew slushies, leading to unorthodox vampire hunting techniques, such as the burying of several dead frogs in boxes in suspected areas of sharpened incisor activity, with the hopes that any passing vampires will bring the nearest frogs back to life. There's also a bell-heavy tripwire of little effectiveness. The trio meet up with the local physician, a sensible chappie named Marcus (John Carson), and perhaps the last one of his ilk in the region, with the peasants mostly being of the suspicious and superstitious variety. Could the local aristocracy be sheltering the responsible pair of fangs? There's poncy fop, Paul (Shane Briant) and his ageless ginger sister, Sara (Lois Daine), and their terminally ill mother, Lady Durward (Wanda Ventham) herself, confined to her deathbed with a grill like a dead man's frosting bag. You'll find out all the who's, why's, where's and when's if you snag yourself a copy and screen it, soon afterwards.

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"I can see your reflection in that steel, dahling, you look maaahvelous."
Did I really just reference Billy Crystal's Fernando Lamas impersonation from 80's SNL? Holy ham steaks, I'm old. Brian Clemens gained fame more for his writing skills than directing, as evidenced by the scripts he penned for And Soon the Darkness (1970), Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971), The Watcher in the Woods (1980), and even an epsiode of tv horror anthology series, Darkroom (1981). German actor Horst Janson, who would also appear in Murphy's War (1971) opposite Peter O'Toole and The Last Days of Patton (1986) opposite George C. Scott, has enjoyed a long career in television. Despite being miserably awful in the film's awkwardly choreographed action sequences and offering little more than one or two facial expressions throughout the production, Janson is pretty likable in the lead role here. Ian Hendry you'll recall from appearances in things like Get Carter (1971), Tales From the Crypt (1972), and Theatre of Blood (1973). John Carson showed up in genre fare like Blood Beast from Outer Space (1965), Plague of the Zombies (1966), and Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970). Two solid Wops for Kronos, a film you'll want to check out for yourselves if you've never done, for sure.

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"Both you and your spouse have fallen and can't get up? I'm calling paramedics and your family, Lady Durward..."
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1 comment:

CowboyX said...

I was strangely surprised at the end. I liked this. The fighting tat the end was ok.

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