Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974)

Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974), written, produced and directed by Brian Clemens.

When vampires drain youth and life from local maidens, Captain Kronos arrives to clean up the village. His companion is a wry hunchbacked doctor of vampyric studies, and a lusty wench they free from the stocks becomes their sidekick for a while.

A cult Hammer film I'd never heard of, it was intended to be the start of a series but the studio was struggling and it didn't do well, sitting on the shelf for two years before finally being released. The director's conception was that Kronos -- as hinted by his name -- was a time traveler who would appear in different times and places, wherever evil needed to be fought. That might explain his Japanese katana sword.

An action hero was a new direction for Hammer: the vampires are not the central characters and their identity is a mystery to be solved. It has a milder rating than other films: gore is minimized and we have just flashes of passion and nudity, nothing like the stimulating boobage of The Vampire Lovers (1970).

The budget seems even more constrained than usual: they had costumes and some real mansion locations, but that's about it. The swordfighting looks rudimentary to me. On the other hand it moves along faster than other Hammer films, and the romantic chemistry between Horst Janson and beautiful Caroline Munro is nicely done: both erotic and companionable.

Kronos might have supernatural powers; that's left for another day. He also delivers more devout lines than usual; on a mission from God?

Laurie Johnson score.

Imported region B Blu-ray with a rather good image. Two commentary tracks but no subtitles. The commentaries are chatty reminiscences by the cast, crew and a Hammer scholar.