England, sometimes the 1800's: A village is plagued from energy-sucking
vampires who turn young girls into old women to preserve their own youth, so
Dr. Marcus (John Carson) calls in his old army-friend Captain Kronos (Horst
Janson) of the Imperial Guard, one of the very few men who have survived a
vampire attack & bent on destroying all vampires after they have vampirized
his wife & daughter.
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Kronos soon rushes in with his trusted sidekick Dr Grost (John Cater), a
hunchbacked specialist in all aspects of vampire hunting, & Carla (Caroline
Munro), a hippie girl he has just rescued from the knacker's yard (where she
was put for dancing on a Sunday), & who immediately fell in love with him.
However, the villagers initially prove less than happy about the advent of
the man who has arrived to save them, and at an inn, Kronos is actually
attacked by Kerro (Ian Hendry), but proves to be quite capable to defend
himself with his swift sword. Kronos' investigations into the village's
vampirism on the other hand do lead to little results - until Dr Marcus stops
by the Durward's place, & comes back a changed man. When on watch the next
night, he does nothing to save a girl from the attack of a vampire bat, &
soon he reveals his vampire fangs to Kronos, urging his friend to help him,
& when he can't, kill him.
But killing Marcus proves more difficult than one might think, since
different vampires are killed in different ways. A wooden stake through the
heart won't end Marcus' life, neither hanging or threatening him with fire, only a fatal wound by a steel
cruzifix will do the trick - & this is one of the most macabre &
funniest scenes of the whole movie.
So now Kronos has the means to kill the local vampire & soon has himself
made a steel-sword in the form of a cruzifix, and he knows where to find the
vampire, at the Durward estate. But who might the actual vampire be: Lady
Durward (Wanda Ventham) an old & sick woman almost in the state of decay,
her son, mother's boy Paul (Shane Briant), or her seductive & self-assured
daughter Sara (Lois Dane).
To get some actual proof, Kronos sends Carla - by now his mistress - into
the estate as bait, & she is scared stiff - & as surprised as Paul
& Sara - when she finds out Lady Durward is not the old decaying woman
everyone thought her to be at all but a rejuvenated vampire, who has even
revived her husband Hagen (William Hobbs), a master swordsman, as a vampire.
Thank God this is when Kronos, master swordsman in his own right, rushes in
& challenges Hagen to a duel - which he wins & is able to kill vampire
Hagen with his cruzifix-sword - & since he is at it, he kills Lady Durwood
Instantly, the 2 dead vampires decay (for real), giving a notion of
creatures having outstayed their welcome.
Now all that's left to do for Kronos is to bid adieu to Carla, to ride off
to new adventures ...
When in the early 70's Hammer's household formula was pretty mcuh
sucked dry, they looked for new ways to infuse new blood into their brand of
movies - & maybe even create a new series for the studio. For one such
attempt they turned to former Avengers-producers Albert Fennell
& Brian Clemens, who tried to give the vampire genre a new spin by mixing
it with the swashbuckling genre, thus moving it out of its horror ghetto &
into more action-adventure oriented terrain.
The result is a fairly
entertaining & fast moving picture, though not on par with acknowledged
Hammer-classics like Curse of Frankenstein or Dracula - to name
the most obvious ones -, the absence of any real villain to carry the story
& a rather unimpressive hero prevent that, as well as a screenplay that
does seem at times indecisive. The concept did neither catch on with a large
audience or with the heads of Hammer, so the series was shelved after this
In retrospect though, Captain Kronos does seem almost
visionary, as about 25 to 30 years later a whole bunch of movies (most notably
the Blade-series, Underworld,
Van Helsing or tv's
Buffy the Vampire Slayer) would do exactly what this movie did - move the vampire
genre as a whole over to more action-oriented pastures (but in consequence,
robbing it of its horror appeal).