Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vampirama 2: Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, The Nude Vampire, The Return of Dracula

More vampires, everyone! There are so many vampire movies out there, I bet I could do these forever. But I'll probably get sick of it before then. Here is a link to the first Vampirama set of reviews, if you are interested.

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter
, by Brian Clemens, 1974

This is a pretty awesome Hammer production starring Horst Jansen as Captain Kronos, who is on the trail of a vampire who feeds on youth, rather than blood. What really took me by surprise is that it doesn't entirely match the moody feel of the other Hammer horror films I've seen. Instead, it appeared to me that Brian Clemens was taking a visual and rhythmic cue from the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone and maybe Kurosawa's samurai films as well. There is even a bar room showdown that played out like something straight out of a Man with No Name movie, but with swords. A very cool movie with an original take on vampire mythology and a visual style unique to the genre.

The Nude Vampire (La Vampire Nue), by Jean Rollin, 1970

I watched Rollin's previous film, The Rape of the Vampire, for my last Vampirama entry. What interested me about him is that he seemed to make a lot of vampire movies, but because he wanted to, not because the industry had pigeonholed him into it.

The Nude Vampire is even weirder than Rollin's first movie. It's about a rich guy who lives a bit of a hedonistic lifestyle who finds out his dad is into even weirder stuff. As he investigates, he learns of a suicide cult of vampire worshipers and of a vampire girl that his dad is actually trying to cure.

Anyway, the story doesn't exactly add up, and I'm not entirely sure if the movie fully engaged me, but Rollin's movies are strange and interesting and that should count for something. There appears to be a recurring motif in his films, combining cultish or mystical imagery with scientific and medical stuff. This one was a lot more exploitative than The Rape of the Vampire (which was thankfully not very rapey). The Nude Vampire definitely lives up to its title many times over. Not sure if I would recommend it, but it's somewhat interesting, so maybe it's worth your time if you're into the strange and obscure. Gotta love that poster art, though.

Also, I was disappointed to find that, unlike the first film, the version on Netflix Instant was dubbed rather than subtitled. Boo, Netflix!

The Return of Dracula by Paul Landres, 1958

This is a little bit older than most of the vampire movies I've been watching, and it is maybe more in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 vein. Things are getting too hot for Dracula in Transylvania, so he takes the identity of an artist he kills and moves to California, where he stays with his victim's distant cousin, feeds off the neighbors, and tries to seduce the cousin's daughter.

My favorite part was at the beginning, when he somehow takes a train all the way from Romania to California. OK, maybe he got off the train and took a ship from Europe to the States, then got on another train, but all we see is him get on a train in Transylvania and get off a train in California. The Return of Dracula is silly and certainly not great, but there's definitely a level of camp enjoyment to be taken from it. Not very memorable, though, to be honest.


Of this batch of movies, I would definitely go with Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. It's super cool.

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