Is there room in the Para/Crypto/Fortean world for a gun-toting, paranoid, bipolar, opinionated bastard? A lonely romantic in search of his lost soul? A knight, Samurai, gunslinger, born in the wrong century? A self-destructive, doom-driven survivor seeking redemption? A heavy drinking gonzo outlaw cryptozoologist whose ego is exceeded only by his libido?
No, there isn't. That's why I'm here...

14 August 2009

Monster Hunter Salute: Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter

Quick! Name a half-vamp, sword-slinging, daywalking vampire hunter! Hint: he's assisted by an intelligent sidekick who's an expert on vampires and counter-vampire measures and weapons. Another hint? Okay, he's got a rather unique, flashy wardrobe and a slightly arrogant personality.
If you're thinking "Blade", then you must have missed the 1974 Hammer Film "Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter."
CK easily gains a place in my Hall of Fame because the character and the movie are both true originals.
The "bio" of Kronos isn't really detailed in the movie, you sort of gather bits and pieces. CK returned from "the war" (which war is unknown, since the movie"s atmosphere is set sometime in the 19th century, and you're never really sure exactly what the location is) to find his family has been turned. He is forced to kill them all, but not before his sister gives him a bite (but doesn't kill or completely turn him). That CK possesses superspeed is sort of hinted at through a few camera tricks, but not graphically demonstrated. No "Matrix" like slo-motion or CGI, after all, it was filmed in 1974. So, Kronos makes it his life's mission to seek out and destroy vampires wherever he may find them. Kind of like Mad Max or The Punisher, except with vampires.
Kronos gets "Style" points for the following reasons: He neatly sidesteps the eternal "rapier vs katana" debate by using both. (STYLE!) He can dispatch a whole tavern full of scumbags without mussing his hair (or even leaving his spot at the bar!) (STYLE!)
He gets to make it with Caroline Munro (STYLE!) and he's got some clever lines.

(Kronos is recieving a leeching)
"You'd better remove our little friends before they turn blue."
"I come from very aristocratic stock."

(Speaking of his valued assisstant)
"What he doesn't know about vampirism wouldn't fill a flea's codpiece."

(Caroline Munro asks to travel with him)
"If you'll have me..."
"Oh, I'll have you!"

The plot involves CK's efforts to rid a village of a mysterious figure who is draining the "youth" from local...youths, leaving their wrinkled dead bodies in it's wake. This is much more in line with the older Vampire lore, before the "youth", "energy" or "life force" was literalized into the blood. In fact, Kronos's (as well as Blade's) half-vamp status is a carryover of the traditional folkloric vampire hunter. (for a complete explanation, see Bruce McClelland's excellent book "Slayers and Their Vampires, A Cultural History of Killing The Dead" Warning: it's not exactly a "light" read!)

CK has some really original takes on the Vampire legends, and IMO succeeds in it's attempt to combine horror and swashbuckling.
Check it out!


Autumnforest said...

Okay, gotta see that one. Thanks. I had heard of it but somehow entirely missed it. It came out when I was too young to notice and probably didn't make a second round in the theater and never saw it in the video store, so I just passed right by it. Thanks for the review--I'm always looking for 70s things I haven't seen before. Sounds good!

Mike-Julie said...

This one got passed me as well. Loved the review!