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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter



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#1 of 25 Scott Kimball

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Posted October 20 2003 - 01:25 AM

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Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter



Studio: Paramount

Year: 1974

Rated: R

Length: 91 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, Anamorphic

Audio: DD Mono

Subtitles: English

Commentary track

SRP: Under $20 USD
Release Date: October 21, 2003





I should make something clear right up front, here - because many who read this are probably connoisseurs of the horror film.

I am not.

That’s not to say that I don’t occasionally enjoy a good horror film... but my appreciation for the genre is somewhat like my appreciation for wine. If it’s got a cork in it, it’s all the same to me.

I have more appreciation for “old-fashioned” horror films than I do for today's slice and dice renditions of the genre. I’ll take Nosferatu, or House of Usher ... or the original monster movies of the thirties, over pretty much anything made in the last couple of decades. Most modern horror films are simply gore-fests, with little attention paid to the art of storytelling. You’ve seen one Freddie, you’ve seen them all.

That said, Hammer Films’ Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974) harkens back to the old days of horror films, with some twists. The story of the vampire is altered from the original lore here, but the storytelling is old-fashioned in approach. There is hardly any gore in the film, and though its a horror film, the design borrows from John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and others. Director Brian Clemens actually prefers not to think of this as a horror film, and equates it with the style of early Sherlock Holmes. He prefers to hold back the blood (and the sex) and let the mind of the viewer fill in the gaps. I find this refreshing, after so many horror films that leave nothing to the imagination. I have found that my imagination is far more capable of scaring me than any piece of celluloid (or any number of bits on a disc), so I heartily agree with his approach.

The basic story is this, from the DVD package:
In a small village in the remote English countryside, several young maidens have been found dead - their beautiful faces horribly aged almost beyond recognition. Suspecting a supernatural evil at work, the local doctor calls on Army friend and famed vampire hunter Captain Kronos, an expert swordsman formerly of the King’s Imperial Guard. Aided by his expert assistant Professor Grost, the two quickly confirm the gruesome murders are the work of a unique type of vampire, one who drains its victims not of their blood, but of their youth! After forging a lethal new sword from an old graveyard cross, the vampire hunters set out to put an end to Evil’s reign of terror in this Hammer Films horror classic.

Despite the fact that I was expecting a more traditional vampire film when I sat down to watch this, I found it a rather engaging story. It plays more like a cross between a spaghetti western and a Sherlock Holmes film than any vampire film I’ve seen before. It’s all sort of “schlocky,” but it’s all in fun. The actors seem to have a good time with it, playing fairly stereotypical roles. The one thing I thought could have been better is the choreography of the swordplay.

I understand this film, and many other Hammer films, have a cult following - and I can see why. The film has a lot of charm...

... just don’t go into it expecting “traditional” vampires.

The Video
This is a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. It looks mighty fine for a film from the early 70’s. Generally bright and reasonably sharp, the picture does exhibit some fine grain characteristic of the period and budget of this film. Occasional dust mars an otherwise clean print. Colors are a bit under-saturated, but adequate. Shadow detail was usually good, but suffered a bit in some scenes. Overall, a nice transfer of an old catalog title.

The Audio
The audio is Dolby Digital, Mono. The sound is clean, with fair frequency response and clear dialog. Don’t expect soaring highs or booming lows... but I think you’ll find the soundtrack representative of the original recording.

The Extras
Included on the disc is a commentary by genre historian Jonathan Sothcott, writer / director / producer Brian Clemens, and actress Caroline Munro. The half hour of commentary I listened to was dominated by Clemens, with a fair amount of input from Munro. Sothcott would occasionally prompt for more information on certain events. Clemens spoke frequently of how he “borrowed” shots from classic John Ford films, among other classic sources. A fairly interesting, if not rousing, commentary.

Final Thoughts
This film isn’t what I expected... it’s not your average vampire movie, but it is a good story. It’s a well-produced budget horror film from the Hammer vaults. Fans of Hammer films will be glad to see this on DVD, and Paramount has provided a good transfer of this classic cult favorite.

#2 of 25 johnbr

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Posted October 20 2003 - 09:54 AM

Good review of a different vamire movie.I so this at the show yes it is a good movie.

#3 of 25 ChrisBEA

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Posted October 20 2003 - 12:16 PM

I pre-ordered this blind, the concept intrigued me, and considering the incredibly low price for this, it turned to a must-buy.
Excellent review, now I know what to look forward to, Thanks!

#4 of 25 David Lambert

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Posted October 20 2003 - 02:16 PM

$5.88 in Wal-Mart's bins tomorrow, folks! That and "Frankenstein & The Monster From Hell"...seriously!
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#5 of 25 Walt Riarson

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Posted October 20 2003 - 03:26 PM

Quote:
$5.88 in Wal-Mart's bins tomorrow, folks! That and "Frankenstein & The Monster From Hell"...seriously!

Really? I was going to order them but if this is true, I will wait. Posted Image

"My advice to young film-makers is this: Don't follow trends. Start them!" -- Frank Capra

#6 of 25 John Kilduff

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Posted October 20 2003 - 03:48 PM

A lot of recent Paramount titles have ended up in the $5.88 bin (I should know...I work at a Supercenter). Anyway, I've also seen "Black Sunday", "The Tenant" and "Campus Man" (There's an odd trio) in the $5.88 bins.

Sincerely,

John Kilduff...

A harbinger of major Paramount price drops across the board, perhaps?
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#7 of 25 David Lambert

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Posted October 20 2003 - 08:32 PM

John, any chance I'll find Dragonslayer in that bargain bin this morning? Posted Image


Ah...by the time you answer I'll have already taken a look for myself! Posted Image
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#8 of 25 Scott Kimball

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Posted October 21 2003 - 12:27 AM

I'll be posting a brief review of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell soon. I was going to do it last night, but got home late. Hope to post tonight or tomorrow.

-Scott

#9 of 25 David Lambert

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Posted October 21 2003 - 01:47 AM

Successfully grabbed CK:VH for $5.88; saw FatMfH for $5.88 as well, but didn't bite.

Dragonslayer was not gotten at my local Wal-Mart; the stocker I talked to was also a fan of that film, and had asked the entire crew to let him know if they saw it. They never did. And I believe him; he'd be the first to taunt me with a "I got the only copy" if that had been the case! Posted Image

I guess I'll just pay $14.99 for Dragonslayer at Best Buy...no prob, as this film is definately worth that much! Posted Image

Back on-topic, I'm looking forward to finally seeing Captain Kronos. Been on my "to see it" list for years, so this DVD is welcome, esp. at the price!
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#10 of 25 Brandon Gantt

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Posted October 21 2003 - 01:12 PM

I finally broke down and watched CK:VH on AMC earlier this year. I had been holding out for the DVD release but I just couldn't resist.

#11 of 25 steve jaros

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Posted October 24 2003 - 04:49 AM

David Lambert -

How do you know in advance what titles will be showing up in the wal mart bargain bin?

#12 of 25 David Lambert

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Posted October 24 2003 - 06:14 AM

It was just this one occassion, and what happened was that I mentioned to a Wal-Mart DVD-section employee which titles I was planning to buy on Tuesday, in the event he could beat prices and maybe even hold them for me.

He saw Kronos on my list and mentioned it would be in the $5.88 bin "when it arrives Tuesday", and it couldn't be a new title but had to be a restock. I assured him it was new, and mentioned Dragonslayer in the hopes that it was also $5.88; he didn't see it on the manifest or whatever it is he uses, but I DID notice F&tMfH on the titles he was murmuring. I asked, he verified.

There ya' go. Right guy, right place, right time.


He tries to let me know in advance what prices they will have on Tuesday so I will buy from him instead of Best Buy, Circuit City, Costco, etc. I love it because I get more stuff in one stop, I get the best prices, I get GREAT service (a factor I'm missing from BB and CC lately), and even though Wal-Mart's competitive prices vary from location to location I can at least give you guys at HTF a heads-up on the ballpark, over in my Roundup thread. Of course, a $5.88 item is the same at every Wal-Mart (even the "Neighborhood" grocery stores), so that warrants a wider broadcast of the info! Posted Image


BTW, this is a supercenter, and he knows that in addition to me buying lots of DVDs there, I also get food shopping done there (or at least at the Neighborhood store nearby, if the supercenter's weekend traffic is too high when we're ready for groceries). He also sees me for toys, basic clothes needs (socks, etc.), tools, etc. In short, he knows I spend big money there, and he does what's right: he encourages me to spend more of it there! Posted Image
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#13 of 25 EdwardKarlinski

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Posted October 24 2003 - 06:57 AM

I love this film. I owned it on VHS and can't wait to pick it up.

#14 of 25 alan halvorson

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Posted October 24 2003 - 07:41 AM

Someone on Dvd Talk mentioned that this film was available in a Region 2 Spanish version, and that version, in his opinion, looked much better. Anyone own the Spanish version?
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#15 of 25 Larry Sutliff

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Posted October 24 2003 - 09:55 AM

I need to get to WalMart soon and pick this and FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL up. Neither one is among my favorite Hammer flicks, but both are still worth owning.

#16 of 25 steve jaros

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Posted October 24 2003 - 01:57 PM

David - thanks for the information. I shop every week at a WM supercenter and have been picking up $5.88 DVDs for a few months now. But it's very hit-and-miss (i actually saw the vampire movie in the bin yesterday, read the back cover, but passed on it).

But it sounds like i need to cultivate a 'friendship' with one of the Electronics dept. employees.

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#17 of 25 Robert Dunnill

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Posted October 24 2003 - 02:21 PM

I wish DDD had an option for shipping orders when they are complete; I want to order this one, but the rest of the items in my cart are out of stock.
Ask Warner for a DVD SE of Here Comes The Navy (1934)!

#18 of 25 ChrisBEA

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Posted October 24 2003 - 02:43 PM

I wish they had an easier method of cancelling an order, I preordered 10 days in advance then release day comes and it says backorder so I send an email to cancel on Tuesday and pick it up at Wal-mart. Then i get a response 3 days later, sorry it just shipped..... Guess I'll return it to Walmart....

#19 of 25 Paul_Scott

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Posted October 29 2003 - 03:21 PM

WOW!
one of the more enjoyable blind buys i've ever made.
knowing this came from many of the same people responisble for the Avengers tv show, i was pretty certain it would be a good bet, although Vampire-themed films are usually among my least favorite horror/monster movies.
this one, however had an interesting sensibility and was a hell of a lot of fun.
this may just be my favorite Hammer film (i confess though, i've never been able to understand all the praise for Horror Of Dracula- i wanted to like it, but couldn't ebay it fast enough).

Thanks Paramount!
you did a very fine job with the A/V, a very clean, clear, dimensional picture- and i picked this up insanely cheap (alhough it seems you raised the msrp in the interm).
& there is still a commentary i have to look forward to Posted Image

highly recommended!

#20 of 25 EdwardKarlinski

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Posted October 30 2003 - 03:10 AM

Quote:
$5.88 in Wal-Mart's bins tomorrow, folks! That and "Frankenstein & The Monster From Hell"...seriously!


Thank you, David. I was able to purchase Captain Kronos, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, and Black Sunday for $5.88 each at Walmart yesterday. It pays to read this forum.





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