The Only Man Alive Feared by the Walking Dead!
A late entry from the foundering Hammer Studios, this intriguing and highly original twist on the vampire motif -- featuring for once a hero more charismatic than the vampires with which he does battle -- was the first in a planned series of Kronos films, but poor planning on behalf of its overseas distributors killed the franchise's great potential in the American market. Kronos (Horst Janson) -- a kind of swashbuckling Sherlock Holmes of the occult sciences -- and his hunchbacked companion Professor Grost (John Cater), arrive in the village of Durward where the local young wenches are being victimized by a family of vampires that drain youth, not blood, from their victims, turning them into withered old hags. Kronos' mystical intuition and powers of deduction lead him to the elderly Lady Durward (Wanda Ventham) and her pompous children Paul (Shane Briant) and Sara (Lois Daine), and he soon squares off against his vampiric foes with a lethal sword (fashioned from a sacred cross) and a bag of occult tricks (including an interesting use of dead frogs). Well-photographed and cleverly directed by Brian Clemens (Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde), this is one of Hammer's few attempts to broaden its audience in the 1970's -- a trend which reached its zenith of zaniness with everybody kung fu fighting in the Hammer/Shaw Brothers collaboration Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. ~
When his village is plagued by mysterious deaths marked by highly accelerated aging, Dr. Marcus calls in his old army friend, Captain Kronos, and his companion, hunchback Professor Hieronymus Grost, two professional vampire hunters. Grost explains to the initially skeptical Marcus that the women are victims of a vampire that drains not blood but youth, and that there are "as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey." The finding of another victim confirms Grost's explanation.
Grost and Kronos’s companion Carla prove via a mystical test the presence of vampires, but their proofs are contradicted by an eyewitness who claims to have seen "someone old, very old", while a youth-draining vampire should appear as youthful. Marcus visits the family of his late friend, Lord Hagen Durward, and speaks with the Lord's son Paul (Shane Briant) and his beautiful sister Sara (Lois Daine) but has to leave without seeing the bed-ridden Lady Durward. In the woods, Marcus has an encounter with a cloaked figure that leaves him shaken and with drops of blood on his lips.
At a tavern, Kronos defeats a group of thugs led by Kerro, who have been hired by Lady Durward's coachman to kill him. Later, while Kronos, Grost, Marcus and Carla set up a system of alarm bells in the woods, a large bat attacks and kills a young woman. Marcus realizes that he has been turned into a vampire and begs Kronos to kill him. After several failed attempts by various methods (including impalement with a wooden stake and hanging), Kronos accidentally pierces Marcus's chest with a cross made out of steel that Marcus had been wearing round his neck.
Now understanding the vampire’s weakness, Kronos and Grost go to the cemetery to obtain a large iron cross. After Kronos battles and disarms a group of angry villagers who think the men have murdered Dr. Marcus, Grost takes the cross and forges it into a new sword. After seeing a carriage similar to the Durward carriage flee the scene of another vampire attack, Kronos deduces that the vampire must live at Durward Manor, and in particular suspects beautiful, young Sara.
As Kronos attempts to sneak into Durward Manor, Carla seeks refuge at the house as a subterfuge. Carla and the Durward siblings are hypnotized by the vampire, revealed to be Lady Durward, who has grown young again and who has raised her husband Hagen from the grave. As Lady Durwood offers her husband the mesmerized Carla, Kronos erupts from his hiding place. Kronos uses his new sword's mirrored blade to reflect Lady Durward’s hypnotic gaze back onto her, and kills Lord Durward in a duel, before also destroying Lady Durward with his sword.
In the village courtyard, Kronos bids Carla good bye and he and Grost ride off to new adventures.
Release Date: October 30, 1974