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Film / Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

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A 1972 (released 1974) Hammer Horror film about a captain, named Kronos, who hunts vampires.

With his village plagued by a string of mysterious deaths, which leave the victims withered with age, former military surgeon Doctor Marcus calls on his old army buddy Captain Kronos to investigate. Kronos rides into town on a black horse, accompanied by his hunchbacked assistant Professor Hieronymous Grost, and Carla, a beautiful woman he rescued on the road, and finds himself faced with two problems: First, working out exactly who the vampire is, and second, working out exactly how it can be killed.

In 2017, around 50 years after the film's release, Titan Comics published a four-issue comic book sequel to Captain Kronos written by Dan Abnett and drawn by Tom Mandrake. It deals with Kronos, Grost and Carla now acting as a team of vampire hunters and encountering a dark village in the heart of Romania in a fierce war against a Vampire invasion. But there's more to that village than meets the eye...

Captain Kronos: Trope Hunter:

  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Doctor Marcus.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Kronos finds a man lying face down. He turns him over to check on him — and his right arm stays lying where it was.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Durwards. More or less averted. While Lady Durward is the main villain and her husband likewise causes much of the supernatural bloodshed, she's actually a Karnstein by birth and he's been raised from the dead as a vampire using some form of necromancy, so might not be quite himself. For their own parts Paul and Sara Durward seem to be a rather pleasant pair, going as far as to allow a frightened gypsy girl to stay the night in their home without much in the way of suspicion, interrogation or saucy funny business, though there may be a reason for that.
  • Asshole Victim: The overtly cruel bar thug we see in one scene reappears with his fellow goons in a later scene when Kronos and Grost enter the bar looking for information on the vampire they're hunting, insulting the two men and itching for a fight. Kronos kills him and his fellow goons in a Single-Stroke Battle and finds evidence in the man's clothes that he as paid by the vampire to try to kill Kronos and Grost. After reassuring the bartender and his wife that he's not going to hurt them, neither Kronos, Grost nor the bartender care about the fact that three men had their throats sliced open with a katana and are now lying dead in the middle of the establishment.
  • The Bait: Carla is sent in to draw the vampires out.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Kronos learns why this is a bad idea.
  • Bifauxnen: Sara, who keeps her hair short and frequently wears men's clothing.
  • Big Bad: Lady Durwood, who resurrected her husband as a vampire.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Evidence not only that a person is dead, but that they've been killed by a vampire.
  • But Now I Must Go: Kronos at the end, continuing on his journey.
  • Cigar Chomper: Kronos smokes several cigars (pretty thin and quite dandy for the age the film takes place in) throughout the film.
  • Crapsack World: Medieval England (hardly, the clothing and weaponry on display would place it in the early to mid 1800s, somewhere following the Napoleonic Wars) is stuck right in The Dung Ages. A plague just happened, there's a civil war so horrific that soldiers regularly desert regardless of if they won or lost, and the religious fervor is so great that you can be put on the stocks for dancing on a Sunday. Meanwhile, vampires stalk the countryside, and there are enough species with different weaknesses that you'll most likely not figure out how to kill it until it's far too late.
  • Dual Wielding: Kronos vs. six angry villagers. Sabre in his right hand, katana in his left.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The leading bar thug. Humiliating a tavern wench, then threatening to kill a man who fails to laugh at her misery.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: We meet Carla in the pillory, for the crime of dancing on a Sunday.
  • Forging Scene: The Professor transforms an iron crucifix into a cruciform sword, with which Kronos can kill the vampire.
  • Freudian Excuse: When Carla wonders why Kronos is so rough in bed (at the time, he's left her with a bleeding lip, although she doesn't seem very upset). He gives a excuse about his family becoming vampires, and kissing therefore having ugly implications for him.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kronos and Grost, who have been on the road for some time and support each other through thick and thin.
  • Hot Gypsy Woman: Carla is not explicitly identified as being of that ethnicity, but has all the typical features (bare feet, active sexuality, dark complexion, first found having been punished by puritanical villagers for sexy dancing).
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: Kronos himself. Why a man such as Kronos would have a katana (Japan being in the middle of its self-isolation from the West) is a part of his Mysterious Past.(Well, they weren't THAT isolated. The Dutch regularly traded with them from about 1610 on, some weapons and armour from Japan were picked up by collectors as far back as the 1600's including the artist, finding someone to train you in Iaijutsu, THAT would have been the trick...)
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The vampire attacks all happen just off screen.
  • Human Shield: Kronos uses Hagen's own mesmerised daughter as cover.
  • Incest Subtext: Strongly (and, according to writer/director Brian Clemens, intentionally) hinted at between Paul and Sara Durwood.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: An Unbuilt Trope: Kronos carries both a katana and a sabre, and appears to favour the katana for everyday use. However, he uses a medieval-style arming sword in the final fight, specially forged for the occasion.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Carla and the Professor load Kronos up with painted-on crosses, garlic flowers, and his special sword.
  • Master Swordsman: Kronos and Hagen (the finest swordsman of his time). It's impressive that Krono can handle a katana and an arming sword at the same time despite their radically different styles.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Carla's primary role in the film is to smoulder a lot, and sleep with Kronos. She does not appear to own a bra. Or a pair of shoes.
  • Mysterious Past: Most of Kronos' past, where he came from, and how long he's been doing his gig are left vague. Grost says Kronos is "formerly of the Imperial Guard," and he served alongside Marcus, but what empire is never explained and the only hint is that his family became vampires. How he got his katana alone would be enough to have a story about it.

    The Durwards themselves. Lady Durward is revealed to be a Karnstein by birth, but it's her husband who had a library containing books on witchcraft and necromancy. Just how deeply the pair of them were into the occult and life after death before Lord Hagen died of an inconvenient plague isn't touched on, any more than the reasons behind Lady Durward's sudden aging, fake or not.
  • No Ontological Inertia: When killed, vampires return to their true age.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Professor Grost explains that there are as many different kinds of vampire as there are predatory beasts. This particular one sucks out its victim's youth, is unaffected by daylight, appears in mirrors, and is killed by an iron blade to the heart. Oh, and the passage of a vampire will resurrect a dead toad.
    Professor Grost: Vampires. Doctor Marcus, it is commonly supposed that a vampire attacks in one way: by biting the neck and draining the victim of blood.
    Doctor Marcus: [nods in agreement] That's true.
    Professor Grost: The girls you spoke of, they were not drained of blood, but of youth. Of life itself. You see, Doctor, there are as many species of vampires as there are beasts of prey. Their methods and their motive for attack can vary in a hundred different ways. [starts pacing around the room] And their means of their destruction. Ah, the traditional stake through the heart doesn't always hold good, you know? Some can only be destroyed by hanging or decapitation, or fire or water! Or by other means (pats model cannon on a nearby table)!
    • Lady Durward's Karnstein heritage is mentioned, but there are still questions to be asked. Is the draining of youth via a kiss her vampire sub-group's actual method of feeding, or is in in fact a method of life-stealing specific to whatever form of necromantic sorcery she used to resurrect her husband from the grave?

      Given that she's produced a son and a daughter, and that she speaks of it taking years for her to master whatever aspects of her Karnstein heritage allow her to bring Hagen back as a vampire was Lady Durward always a vampire, or was she a mortal woman whose grief at her husband's early death from plague drove her to research her family's heritage of dealings with The Devil and discover a route to vampiric immortality that way? We're also shown that the late Lord Hagen's library included books on witchcraft and necromancy, so it's possible that the elder Durwards were always interested in the occult, but Lady Durward only took it completely seriously after her husband died of plague
  • Protagonist Title
  • Rasputinian Death: Doctor Marcus. After being turned, he asks for a Mercy Kill from Kronos and he and Grost test several kinds of methods to kill vampires to see what can kill the type that Marcus has been turned into. They find out their vulnerability is iron by sheer chance, and Marcus lives long enough to thank them before passing away.
  • Role Called
  • Scars are Forever: Hagen still bears the marks of the plague that killed him, and Kronos has a long scar on his side. Doctor Marcus (who served with him in the army) explains it:
    "I know you've got guts, Kronos. I've seen them."
  • Shirtless Scene: Kronos seems to like showing off his scars.
  • Smart People Play Chess: The Professor and Doctor Marcus.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Kronos does this at one point.
  • Stealth Sequel: To the Karnstein Trilogy. Lady Durward turns out be a Karnstein by birth, leading to all sorts of Epileptic Trees. Ingrid Pitt was even offered the role as a Casting Gag but turned it down.
  • Stock Punishment: How Carla is introduced, having had the gall to dance on a Sunday, which was a real punishment in some Christian denominations.
  • Sword Fight: The final duel is notable for being one of the earlier works of William Hobbs (who went on to choreograph the action in The Duellists, Robin and Marian, Rob Roy, and The Three Musketeers (1973)). Hobbs himself plays Hagen.
  • Zombie Infectee: Doctor Marcus. He is turned and allows himself to be tied to a chair while begging for a Mercy Kill. And thus Kronos and Grost use him to test what can kill his specific type of vampire. When they finally find it, Marcus makes note that these vampires change when they die back to their original age and he thanks the other two men before finally dying.

Tropes in the comic book sequel:

  • Action Girl: Carla is now a vampire hunter of equal standing as Kronos and Grost.
  • Actionized Sequel: Kronos, Grost and Carla fight more Vampires in the first issue than in the entire first movie combined.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: A Kronos staple, though in this case the aristocratic Elders of Serechurch appear merely shady, rather than malicious. Or so it seems.
  • Big Bad: The Slake, a Vampire that has taken over the plague-ridden quarters of Serechurch.
  • But Now I Must Go: After the business is dealt with, Kronos and his companion ride off as usual. Most obviously because the citizens of Serechurch are pissed they killed their Elders.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Made by Titan Comics as a sequel to the film Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter.
  • Forbidden Zone: The Slake and his Vampires live in ghost region separated from the rest of Serechurch by wooden walls where none dare enter...except Kronos, of course.
  • Large and in Charge: The Slake towers over the Vampires he rules over and pretty much everyone else, really.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In Kronos tradition. The Slake's kin are immune to sunlight, silver and crosses and can only be killed by beheading, though the Slake himself is vulnerable to crosses.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Slake is the head Vampire and also the most foreboding in combat. Though averted with his other Vampire Elders in charge of Serechurch, who go down fairly easily. Kronos points out that unlike the Slake, they've been living off the fat of the land and thus are in no fighting shape.
  • Retcon: In the film, Kronos and Grost leave Carla behind, but in this storyline she's become part of their group and has take very well to their escapades.
  • Running Gag: Someone cursing and Kronos/Grost/Carla deadpanning "Language." (often in the middle of a battle) is a running joke throughout, occurring at least once per issue.
  • Serial Escalation: In the first film Kronos deals with less than half a dozen Vampires. Here there's an entire legion of them.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: The fancy but shady Elders of Serechurch want Kronos to kill Slake and his vampires, who are essentially ragged undead, giving it a bit of a class warfare vibe. Particularly when it's revealed the Elders are also Vampires and this is merely a Vampire civil war of sorts.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Carla has been taking lessons in Vampire hunting from Kronos and Grost. Suffice to say she's no longer a helpless damsel.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Serechurch, a grim little town in Romania and the main setting of the narrative. Features, among other things, a veritable boatload of Vampires.
  • Xenafication: Carla goes from feisty but overall harmless damsel in the film to a Vampire-hunting badass in this.


Video Example(s):


Captain Kronos Pillory Scene

Carla is introduced and she is in the pillory.

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Example of:

Main / StockPunishment

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