Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)

Genres - Action, Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Apr 7, 1974 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - UK  |   MPAA Rating - R
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This clever revisionist take on vampire lore is one of the last great Hammer Films productions. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter succeeds where many latter-day Hammer productions fall short because it manages to respect the horror genre while subverting many of its conventions: it plays up the adventure (the usual cross-and-stake finale is replaced with a swordfight) and mystery angles of its premise and flouts a key vampire-film convention by valuing its heroes over its undead villains. Veteran screenwriter Brian Clemens keeps the audience guessing by making the vampire's identity a mystery and reworking the rules of vampirism to suspenseful effect. As a director, Clemens has a little trouble with pacing during the film's midsection but makes up for that with a knack for atmosphere and a keen eye for unusual visuals (look for the moment involving a cross and its deceptive 'shadow'). Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter's appeal is sealed by a rousing score from Laurie Johnson and inspired work from a well-chosen cast: Horst Janson is appropriately fearless as the Errol Flynn-like Kronos, Caroline Munro is spirited (and fetching) as his gypsy love and John Carter displays some offbeat charm as Kronos' sidekick. Some modern viewers might be thrown off by the film's subtle, stately approach but Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is a smart, very likeable film that is a worthy addition to vampire mythos.