Clemens had earned a stellar reputation in British television as a writer for first-rate series such as Danger Man (aka Secret Agent) and The Avengers (he penned 32 episodes and produced many others). In an interview with The Monster Times, Clemens stated that he felt many of Hammer's movies had no heroes--the "monster" was the protagonist and the audience ended up rooting for the bad guy. His solution was to create a swashbuckling hero who hunted vampires--and thus Kronos was born.
The narrative itself is pretty straightforward. It's what Clemens and company does with it that makes Kronos so entertaining. This vampire doesn't drink blood, but drains the youth from its victims. Professor Grost explains that "there are as many species of vampires as there are beasts of prey." Grost also emphasizes that not all vampires can be destroyed with a wooden stake. That ultimately leads to a darkly humorous scene in which Kronos tries various methods of vampire destruction--stake, hanging, fire--trying to figure out which one will work on these particular vampires.
|Clemens frames his shots to show that|
evil surrounds innocence and good.
Clemens embraces the folklore behind vampirism to the point of creating his own. The day after Grost buries a bunch of dead toads in the woods, Kronos digs them up. He explains his actions to Marcus by reciting this rhyme:
|Caroline Munro eyes Captain Kronos.|
Composer Laurie Johnson, perhaps best known for his Avengers theme, composed the marvelous score. The title theme, which incorporates French horns accompanied by galloping strings, sets the mood immediately. With apologies to James Bernard, who did some fine work for Hammer, Kronos may be the best Hammer soundtrack.
It's clear from the closing scene that Clemens intended Kronos to the first in a series. Alas, that was not to be. Hammer provided lackluster support for the film and it failed at the boxoffice. In the U.S., it was released as Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter as the second half of a double bill with Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. In the meantime, Hammer experimented with other genres (e.g., contemporary action, martials arts and monsters) with little success. It ceased film production after 1976. Fortunately for Kronos, it developed a cult following and eventually earned a reputation as one of Hammer's finest.