Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (Blu-ray) (1974)

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Released 5-Mar-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Interview-Cast
Audio Commentary
Alternative Version-Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter : 1.37:1 full frame
Featurette-Kronos Reunion Featurette (25:42)
Gallery-(8:48)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 91:12
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Brian Clemens
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Horst Janson
Caroline Munro
John Carson
John Cater
Shane Briant
Lois Daine
Wanda Ventham


Case ?
RPI ? Music Laurie Johnson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Captain Kronos (Horst Janson), ex-Imperial Guardsman and master swordsman, travels the land with his hunchback assistant Grost (John Cater) and gipsy girl Carla (Caroline Munro) hunting vampires. He is called in by Dr Marcus (John Carson), an old army friend, when young women in the doctor’s village are being killed, not by being drained of blood but by being drained of their youth and life, turning them into crones. Soon after his arrival, when more young women are turned into hags, it becomes clear to Kronos and Grost that vampires are indeed in the area and they turn their attention towards the aristocratic, and very youthful looking, Durward family; Paul (Shane Briant), his sister Sara (Lois Daine) and their unseen mother Lady Durward (Wanda Ventham, mother of Benedict Cumberbatch in her only Hammer role). But catching the vampire in the act proves difficult despite the traps set by Kronos and Grost and so Carla becomes live bait to draw the vampire out.

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter was made in 1972 but not released until 1974. This was at the end of Hammer’s golden era when things were not going well for the studio so while Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter was intended to be the start of a series of films indifferent box office, and indeed indifferent marketing by Hammer, put paid to that idea. Which is a pity for Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is a rollicking adventure with vampires, a sense of humour, colourful sets, decent acting, a twist at the end, the most athletic swordfight ever filmed by Hammer and a rousing score by Laurie Johnson, known for The Avengers TV theme and Doctor Strangelove (1964).

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter was written and directed by Brian Clemens. This was his only feature film as director although he had extensive writing credits on his resume, including The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and the perhaps best forgotten Highlander II: The Quickening (1991). For Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter however he is in good form both as writer and director; the plot is tight, there is some amusing dialogue, the twist is decent and the film is shot with some clever angles and a nice amount of tension. The duel at the climax may owe homage to other swashbuckling films, with shadows on the wall, crashing furniture and a sequence on top of a table, but it is athletic and well executed by Horst Janson and William Hobbs doing their own stunts. Indeed, German actor Janson with his slim build looks the part although his accent was such that Hammer hired Julian Holloway to loop all his dialogue. This does feel somewhat clumsy in places although lip synchronisation is fine. Elsewhere John Carson and John Cater are excellent, Caroline Munro in the second film of her two film deal with Hammer (the first being Dracula AD. 1972) looks earthy and beautiful while Shane Briant, who in this period also made Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell for Hammer, looks the epitome of the ephemerally beautiful young man.

    Indeed, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter deserved a better fate. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is very entertaining; it is an old fashioned adventure, the sets in the Hammer way are detailed and colourful and Kronos is an interesting character and a swashbuckling hero figure. It is a great pity that no more Kronos pictures were made.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p, MPEG-4 AVC code. The IMDb gives the original ratio as 1.85:1 which I am not sure is correct. In any case, the film framing looks fine.

     Some of the exterior wide shots look soft and quite grainy but otherwise detail is strong. The colours are pastel in some of the exteriors, which gives a nice feel; the interiors, such as the Durward house, are bright and vivid. Blacks and shadow detail are very good, skin tones fine. Other than the grain and an occasional tiny mark there were no marks or artefacts.

     There are no subtitles provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English LPCM 2.0 mono at 1536 Kbps; the film was shown theatrically with mono sound.

     Dialogue is always easy to understand. While this is a mono audio, effects such as horses’ hooves, carriage wheels, the thunder and the clash of swords have a nice depth. The score by Laurie Johnson is rousing and suits the film well.

     There is obviously no surround or subwoofer use.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Despite Horst Janson being totally looped, lip synchronisation looked fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Alternative version of Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

     The film can be watched in a 1.37:1 full frame version, with bars each side. This hardly seems essential, but it is an option.

Audio Commentary - Cast

     Recorded in 2011 with Hammer film historian Marcus Hearn, cast members Shane Briant, John Carson and Caroline Munro and writer / director Brian Clemens, this is an engaging and chatty commentary. Hearn coordinates and asks questions as the group talk about their experiences on set, other cast members, the locations, the dubbing of Janson, other films and Hammer in the 1970s.

Audio Commentary – Crew

     Recorded in 2011 (before the above commentary), Hammer film historian Marcus Hearn, writer / director Brian Clemens and DP Ian Wilson sit together and watch the film. A bit more information oriented than the other commentary, they talk about influences, including John Ford, reinventing vampire lore, the score, lighting, composition of shots and the sets, other films or TV they did, innovations and challenges.

Kronos Reunion Featurette (25:42)

     In 2008 cast members Horst Janson, John Cater, Caroline Munro, John Carson, Lois Daine and William Hobbs plus writer / director Brian Clemens got together to watch Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter with an audience and to chat about their experiences in making the film. Light hearted and good fun.

Stills Gallery (8:48)

     Upwards of 100 colour film posters, black and white and colour film stills, on set photographs and storyboards. The stills advance automatically, with film music.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our release of Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter seems to be the only Blu-ray of the film currently available anywhere.

Summary

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is an underrated Hammer film. In fact Michael Carreras at Hammer did not rate the film at all, thinking it did not feel like a Hammer film, delaying release for two years then dumping it into the bottom half of a double bill without fanfare. Indeed, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter does not feel like a Hammer film but more like a western; it is fast paced and Captain Kronos could be any wandering gunslinger / swordsman who rides into a small town, saves the girl, gets rid of the bad guys and puts things to right before riding out into the sunset. And there is nothing wrong with that!

     The film looks great on Blu-ray, the audio is the original mono. The extras are very good.

     Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter is available as a stand-alone Blu-ray / DVD release from Shock Entertainment but it is also included in Shock’s 17 disc Hammer Horror Blu-ray Collection, which also adds two DVDs of Hammer shorts. The specifications and extras on both releases are the same, though without the DVD of course. Great value for Hammer fans!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, February 13, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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