GUEST MOVIE REVIEW by Jamie Lee: Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)

Director: Brian Clemens

Starring:
Horst Janson
John Carson
Shane Briant

A master swordsman and former soldier and his hunchbacked assistant hunt vampires.


Watching Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter around Halloween is a tradition I’ve maintained, since I first saw the film on TNT’s Monster Vision.

It was one of the last movies produced by Hammer Studios and from what I understand, it was supposed to be the first of a series, but the studio unfortunately closed, not long after.

However, what we are left with is a remarkable fusion of vampire story and swashbuckling action.

The film left such an indelible mark that I went into fencing, during college; for me Captain Kronos was THE fencing movie. Beyond the overall spirited aspect, the movie is far more than a “simple” vampire film.

The story begins with Captain Kronos answering the call of his old military brother, Dr. Marcus. Kronos and his companion, Professor Hieronymus Grost, answer Dr. Marcus’s call for aid and begin their investigation into the nature of the attacks and possibility of a vampire. One unique aspect of the vampire they’re hunting is that its feeding drains its victims of their youth and vitality. In addition to trying to figure out who the vampire actually is, Kronos and Grost must try and discern the nature of the vampire, as the pair must first determine the weakness of the vampire in question. In fact, at one pivotal moment of the film, they must experiment with various methods of dispatchment, after a newly born vampire is captured and restrained by the duo. (I’ll avoid spoilers.)

The movie is fun, while maintaining the feel of a Gothic horror investigation. I recommend that anyone give it a watch at least once. In checking a few notes, such as the release date for the film, I discovered that Dan Abnett released a limited comic book series that I will be tracking down, as there is never enough Captain Kronos.

Grab your favorite snack or the Halloween candy you and I both know you will not be giving to trick-or-treaters, and prepare to enjoy, “The only man feared by the walking dead!”

As for me, I too, will be heading towards, “Anywhere, everywhere, wherever there is evil to be fought.”


Boo-graphy:
Jamie Lee has been writing fiction for 30 years. His debut release, Harmony, has been 25 years in the making. While he holds a degree in Microbiology and welcomes comparisons to a mad scientist, writing has always been his first love and interest.

After a successful private release in 2019 of short stories, Harmony was finally ready to debut in March of 2020.

However, life had other plans.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the release, rollout, and convention travel in support of Harmony to come to a screeching halt.

With an unexpected year-long hiatus, Jamie chose to work on final edits and begin to focus on the second book in the Harmony series, Cacophony.

When not writing, Jamie is a fervent, life-long gamer. He can be found every Friday night with long time friends playing any number of online RPGs and, during the week and weekend, building and painting his countless Warhammer armies, playing any chance he gets. He also enjoys health and fitness, reading, music, traveling, searching or the best bar-b-que and being fueled by endless coffee and kombucha. He is forever searching for the perfect haunted home to live in since his condo is simply not large enough for a proper library or laboratory.

GUEST POST: Jamie Lee

If there’s one thing that’s resonated with me and my writing, it’s the idea that the Celts thought that the veil between worlds became thin during Halloween (or Samhain, as they called it).

During the Halloween season, I immerse myself in films that resonate with the idea of the spirit world having a stronger influence in the day-to-day. 

With that thought in mind, I’ve created a list of my top five films for October and most certainly, Halloween!

When the spirit worlds growing stronger, the following movies either use auspicious times or the ritual actions of their primary actors to initiate events.

1) Dust Devil (1992) —
A killer working his way across South Africa, who may be a spirit, clothed in flesh using the ritual of murder to regain his former place of power. The titular Dust Devil, or nomad, is played by Robert Burke, who also played the lead in Stephen King’s Thinner, and is a character displayed in time – so much so that the character appears in the director, Richard Stanley’s, previous film, Hardware, which is set in the distant future where the nomad character is played by Carl McCoy of the band Fields of the Nephilim.

The nomad character is an interesting concept of a spirit trying to return home through the violence and sacrifice of its ritual actions. And while the setting may not scream Halloween, the cinematography is haunting yet, at the same time, beautiful.

2) Trick ‘r Treat (2007) —
A shared anthology tale, linked by the character of Sam. The stories weave into one another to tell a cohesive whole, but are excellent on their own with everything from werewolves, revenants, and the perils of not checking your Halloween candy. I recommend watching it at least twice and paying closer attention to Anna Paquin’s and her sisters’ comments the second time through. What ties it into the theme is the thought, would any of the film’s events (stories) have happened if something or a series of events hadn’t served as the catalyst for them, in the first place? Still, a great film with supernatural elements occurring on literal Halloween.

Halloween (1978) —
Michael Myers as one of the original, invincible, serial killers. They’ve played with the idea, for good or ill, in subsequent sequels with Michael being the way he is due to ritual actions on the part of some shadowy group. Some of the trailers for the new Halloween film suggest that Michael is ascending through murder, which has parallels to Dust Devil above. Regardless of your interpretation, the movie is set on Halloween with the predations of an invincible killing machine. The creepy theme song deserves an honorable mention and should be played, loudly, as part of any proper Halloween soundtrack.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) —
A movie dripping with gorgeous visuals. While I’ve always been a big fan of Hammer Films and Christopher Lee in the role of Dracula, this movie adheres fairly closely to the source material, with Gary Oldman doing a fantastic job in the title role. The original novel, by Bram Stoker, is also a recommended read for a lone, Hallows night. 

Nightbreed (1990) —
Clive Barker’s “Nightbreed” has little to do with Halloween, other than monsters. Okay, a lot of monsters, all of whom are trying to live their life in the city of Midian that they’ve built beneath an old cemetery. It also turns out the actual “monsters” in the movie may be the human prejudices haunting the denizens of Midian. Into this is thrust Boone, who is convinced by his psychiatrist, Doctor Decker, that he is serial killer who then goes to Midian to live amongst the other monsters…only to become both savior and destroyer. A tale as old as time, everyone! I strongly recommend watching the Director’s Cut, which was lost for decades, found, and reassembled by Scream Factory. It was originally conceived to be the “Star Wars” of monster movies, with subsequent titles which sadly, never materialized. The film resonates with what a monster actually is. I can only refer you to my own writing. 

Regardless, of if you  are interested in digging into my central theme concept, you can’t go wrong making these movies a part of your ? days of Halloween. My ? days tend towards 365, but individual interest may vary. Stay spooky!


Boo-graphy:
Jamie Lee has been writing fiction for 30 years. His debut release, Harmony, has been 25 years in the making. While he holds a degree in Microbiology and welcomes comparisons to a mad scientist, writing has always been his first love and interest.

After a successful private release in 2019 of short stories, Harmony was finally ready to debut in March of 2020.

However, life had other plans.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the release, rollout, and convention travel in support of Harmony to come to a screeching halt.

With an unexpected year-long hiatus, Jamie chose to work on final edits and begin to focus on the second book in the Harmony series, Cacophony.

When not writing, Jamie is a fervent, life-long gamer. He can be found every Friday night with long time friends playing any number of online RPGs and, during the week and weekend, building and painting his countless Warhammer armies, playing any chance he gets. He also enjoys health and fitness, reading, music, traveling, searching or the best bar-b-que and being fueled by endless coffee and kombucha. He is forever searching for the perfect haunted home to live in since his condo is simply not large enough for a proper library or laboratory.

Halloween Extravaganza: Robert Herold: Movie Maven Mausoleum Films to Die For

Movie Maven Mausoleum
Films to Die For!

By Robert Herold
Author of The Eidola Project

Finding obscure and/or largely forgotten gems in our genre is a bloody-good treat. And, in addition to reading a great book, what better way is there to celebrate the season? (Or any season!)

Curse of the Demon/Night of the Demon (1957)

The film opens with an admittedly goofy-looking monster. Don’t let that put you off! The director, Jacques Tourneur (of Cat People fame) did not want the creature in the film, but he was overruled by the studio. Night of the Demon is the British version of the film and is thirteen (lucky) minutes longer. Given this is one of my all-time favorites, I’d go with the longer version.

The movie concerns an egotistical warlock who is eliminating those who criticize him. Dana Andrews (who also starred in The Best Years of Our Lives and the noir-classic Laura) and Peggy Cummins (star of another noir classic, Gun Crazy) run afoul of the warlock, played by Niall MacGinnis.

The film has some wonderfully creepy moments, especially when MacGinnis is demonstrating his power during a little picnic he is hosting for the kiddies in the area. Check it out!

A Chinese Ghost Story I, II, & III (1987, 1990, 1991)

(Note: The first of the series was remade in 2011 by Wilson Yip (of Ip Man fame) I have not seen the remake, but most reviewers rate the original higher. I love the original, so I recommend you go with it.)

The first film is about a hapless but good-hearted tax-collector in Medieval China who is forced to stay in a haunted locale and falls in love with a beautiful ghost. Too bad for him, and anyone else who strays near the place, the ghost is under the control of a nasty tree witch. A wonderful story, great special effects for the time, humor, romance, and insane action—what more could one want? Number II in the series is more of a stand-alone film, whereas number III is a sequel. These are a bit difficult to find, but are worth the trouble!

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1972)

Made toward the end of Hammer Studios’ heyday, this gem is largely forgotten. Too bad, because it’s a great film. Dashing Captain Kronos, accompanied by his faithful hunchback friend, Professor Grost, gallop all over the 18th Century English countryside in search of vampires. They’re in luck, or maybe not, depending on your perspective. There’s some nice variations on the familiar vampire theme. This would have made a marvelous television series. I’ve love to write it, if there are any producers out there!

Eyes of Fire (1983)

A precursor to the marvelous the film The Witch (2015), which you must see if you haven’t, Eyes of Fire is also a tale of witchcraft set in early rural America. A group of settlers stumble upon a haunted locale and are terrorized by dangerous spirits. A mysterious girl appears who may hold the key to their survival. The excellent story, acting, and production values make this a great film!

Borgman (2014)

Few people saw this Danish film in America when it was first released. Fortunately, it is available on a ton of streaming services (many for free). This is one of the creepiest films I have ever seen. It gets under your skin like a parasite, making your flesh crawl, and then wiggles around in your brain for days afterward. Are you ready? Prepare for a little confusion, it’s meant to be so, as it is a horror mystery, but you will never be the same again. ‘Enjoy!

The Wicker Man (1973) – Original Film

You may be familiar with the 2006 remake, but I am recommending you go back to review the vastly superior original, starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. Cinefantastique Magazine at the time declared it “The Citizen Kane of horror films,” and I agree. It’s an eerie film with excellent acting and a great story. It involves a strait-laced religious policeman who is sent to a remote British isle to investigate a missing girl. Things are amiss in this seemingly idyllic town.

Dark City (1998)

The line between horror and SF is often blurry (consider Alien and its sequels), so you may have missed this gem from the 90’s. The director of The Crow, Alex Proyas, takes us on a noir nightmare with wonderful special effects and acting. The actors and production values are top-notch. The actors include Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland (in one of his best roles), Jennifer Connelly, and William Hurt. It’s a heady mix of horror, mystery, and science fiction you’re sure to love!

A Portrait of Jennie (1948)

If your taste runs toward paranormal romance, I recommend The Portrait of Jennie. This well-acted film features many top actors from the time: Joseph Cotten, Jennifer Jones, Ethel Barrymore, and Lillian Gish. Cotton plays a down on his luck artist, whose career starts to change when he meets an enigmatic young woman.

Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979)

You have probably seen the original film (if not, do so!), but you may have missed Werner Herzog’s outstanding remake. It is a stylized horror film with excellent acting and sets. Klaus Kinski and Isabelle Adjani are wonderful in the lead roles, and the rats deserve a shout-out too! (I hope they got paid union-scale wages!)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Set the Way-back Machine ™ for one hundred years ago: Following the nightmare of deaths and dashed dreams of glory experienced by Germany because of World War One (to say nothing of the other countries involved) came the genius of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. From the expressionistic sets to wonderfully weird characters and expressionistic acting, the film still has remarkable power to unnerve you. Incidentally, Conrad Veit, who plays the somnambulist, was later considered for the role of Dracula (ultimately given to Bela Lugosi) and still later went on to chew up scenes as Major Strasser in Casablanca. Note: I strongly recommend seeing a version with the contemporary orchestral score by Rainer Viertelboeck. Since Caligari is a silent film, music is a key component, and this soundtrack adds to the creepiness!

The supernatural always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally.)

As a child, fresh snow provided me the opportunity to walk out onto neighbors’ lawns halfway and then make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn. (They were skeptical.)

I have pursued many interests over the years, but the supernatural always called to me. You could say I was haunted. Finally, following the siren’s call, I wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea I had as a teenager. Ultimately, I hope my book gives you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible.

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The Eidola Project

It’s 1885 and a drunk and rage-filled Nigel Pickford breaks up a phony medium’s séance. A strange twist of fate soon finds him part of a team investigating the afterlife.

The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of explorers dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a sideshow medium, and now a derelict, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses.

Called to the brooding Hutchinson Estate to investigate rumored hauntings, they encounter deadly supernatural forces and a young woman driven to the brink of madness.

Will any of them survive?