One of Hammers ‘other’ vampire movies. It isn’t Dracula and isn’t pulling in the same direction as say Vampire Circus or The Vampire Lovers. Under the influence of producers Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell responsible for the more pop ‘Tara King’ incarnation of the Avengers, time is very much of this tales essence.

The new wrinkle in the old suit is that rather than bestowing eternally youthful damnation the victims – consisting mainly of big haired cleavage heaving young gals – have the youth literally sucked out of them by a familiar dark parka-wearing type lurking in the woods.

Our hero is officer and master swordsman Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) who together with his hunchbacked assistant Grost (John Cater) provide a professional vampire hunting service. The Captain’s ahead of the game in branding with a logo which neatly embodies his own thrusting masculinity and time-honoured sense of deference in one instantly understandable glyph. Marketing types take note.

The fearless vampire hunters ride into the scene armed with the useful knowledge that not all vampires are the same and require a certain amount of analysis in order to kill one. On hand is sailors favourite, lusty Caroline Munro who in the absence of an over-sized coiffure is given free reign to flick her long dark hair playfully in the direction of the Captain as often as possible, no surprise since he’s freed her from the stocks where she’d been left in a compromising position for “dancing on a Sunday” – his approach leaves you in no doubt about that logo!

There’s a sinister family of local nobles holed up in a castle – an ageless sister (Lois Daine), her fey brother (Shane Briant) and a bed-ridden mother dearest who looks like she might have dated leatherface for kicks.  Kronos figures out what its going to take to off this particular incarnation of the vampire species and sets about tracking it down with his squat pal Grost whose toad bothering techniques eventually reveal the blood suckers lair.

There’s a lot to like in this bizarre tale – the Captains dope smoking Scandinavian tennis star vibe the sultry Monroe a rum lass if ever there was, and walk-on’s from Lotus eating seventies icons –  wheezy Ian Hendry and towards the end of the movie dishy chiffon addict Wanda Ventham. The play on obsession with youth and defying the ageing process, folklorish notions of burying things in the ground to see if they’ll spring to life again. Its also got a sword fight and manages to get the plague in there.

The gore is minor but this is engaging stuff – still a favourite just for its odd take on the vampire myth.  Remade today they’d get sponsorship from L’Oreal no problem. Timeless.

Review by Dancemakr

 

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