Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974)
I've said it many time before and I'll continue to say it - Hammer's latter day output is some of its finest. Why? Well, because it had to keep up with the competition. And that meant taking chances and following perceived trends. The cinema-goers and critics of the era might not have been keen on the new approach, but the early-to-mid 70s output is certainly some of the most watchable and least-aged today. And that output is headed up by Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter.
It's deep in Hammer territory, but this is miles away from the classic Cushing/Lee Hammer flicks. That's down to the writer/director, Brian Clemens, a man associated with some of the best British action/adventure of the 60s and 70s (Avengers, Adam Adamant, Protectors, Champions etc) as well as one of my favourite cult horror films, And Soon The Darkness. Clemens took the classic Hammer scenario of vampires stalking the peasants, but adding one extra ingredient - the comic book hero.
In fact, this is your classic action movie, with Kronos (Horst Janson) the good-looking swordsman, Dr Marcus (John Carson) as the hunchbacked brains of the outfit and Carla, the beauty rescued from the stocks along the way, played by Caroline Munro. And if you're in doubt about the prowess of Kronos, just watch him despatch the nasty Kerro (Ian Hendry) early doors with a flash of the blade.
But there's a bigger menace than Kerro - a vampire - but not as you expect. Instead of sucking blood, this particular evil sucks the age/life out of young women who don't believe in God. And it all points to the stately Durwards - Paul (Shane Briant), Sara (Lois Daine) and Lady Duward (Wanda Ventham).
I've got to say, this is a cracker - a dark action adventure with blood, romance, swordplay, a dope-smoking hero, ropey special effects, Caroline Munro and a Brian Clemens script to hold it all together. Could it get much better? Not by much in my book.
Ok, those special effects might be seen as a negative by some and the plot would never hold up to close examination, but this a pure escapist entertainment, featuring characters with enough legs to fill two or three flicks. Indeed, there was talk of a TV series of Kronos, which sadly never happened. So we're just left with this. Do yourself a favour, get a copy - you know you want to.