Friday, January 20, 2012

Kronos – review

Author: Guy Adams

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

The blurb: 'What manner of monster can wreak such damage? I only hope you know how it can be stopped.'

The peace of an English village is shattered when a young girl withers before her friend's eyes, becoming but dust and bones. Witnessing this terrifying transformation, local physician Dr Marcus fears the village has been cursed by the presence of evil. He immediately summons his old army friend, the mysterious but powerful vampire hunter, Kronos.

Together with the help of his assistant Professor Grost, Kronos has dedicated his whole life to destroying vampires. He knows that there is nothing so varied and deadly. With a vampire nothing is certain, especially how one might be able to kill it.

As more and more villagers fall prey to this deadly curse, time is against him. And when it comes dangerously close to home, Kronos is faced with a terrible choice...

The review: Having been a tad underwhelmed by the novelisation of Twins of Evil I perhaps approached the next classic Hammer novelisation with a touch more trepidation. Kronos is the novelisation of the 1974 classic Hammer movie Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter. The book has a foreword by writer/director Brian Clemens, and he tells us that there were things he would have liked to do in the movie that budget wouldn’t allow. The specific example was having Kronos sleep in a gold coffin to help him think like his foes. This is introduced in book.

Indeed Adams changes quite a few things in book, though the novel follows mainly the story line of the film. Kronos’ sidekick, Professor Hieronymus Grost, suddenly changes his name to Herbert Grost – for reasons unknown. The film was set in an undisclosed European setting, in the book it is made clear that the place is England and that Kronos had previously been part of the New Model Army (despite this fact, his ‘chinese herbs’ are also more accurately described and are perhaps not what an officer in the NMA might have indulged in).

There are also lore changes. When going to face the vampires the cross painted on the necks is made of wax from a saint’s blood candle, rather than garlic, and a concoction of garlic and wolfsbane is smeared on the neck in addition to this. We have confirmation that the latter works as a ward. Rather than the efficiency of crosses as a weapon against the undead being down to the bearer, it is down to the religious nature of the vampire and, most importantly, the entire lore about the vampires met in this adventure being killed by the holy cross (forged into a sword) is gone replaced by another method; in the Kronos universe the effectiveness of any item depends on the particular breed of vampire.

What I thought was brilliant was that Adams wrote the book first person but switched through a variety of characters chapter to chapter, some of these characters being minor players in the story or little more than observers. This way the book is enriched with detail and interesting perspectives, especially as Adams maintains individual voices for his narrators. The climax plays out slightly differently to the film ending, but was both thrilling and would have made a brilliant movie ending.

Clemens offers his wish that the book might prove popular and then, perhaps, lead to another movie. As I read it – and bearing in mind that one concept, at the time the film original came out, was for a Kronos TV series – I actually thought that perhaps Hammer might consider an entire Kronos reboot. So long as they can find a lead as charismatic as Horst Janson, I think the film could be remade as the first of a film series or the pilot of a TV series. The genius of Kronos – and the clue is in the name – is that this could take place jumping through time periods. At the very least Adams should be commissioned to create some original Kronos tales. For now, however, I give the book a strong 8 out of 10.


Iorga said...

This review intrigued me into looking into this novelisations.

Kronos in one of the best Non-Dracula Hammer films, and of course it has a soft link to the Karstein Trilogy I think it would be quite interesting to read this novelisation and form my own opinion on it.

I would be up for a new reboot or TV series as well, but would you want the recently revived Hammer Studios to do it? After all their Let Me In was quite good, though we are yet to see their rendition of The Woman in Black. Of course they are yet to return to true Hammer Horror territory during the Lee/Cushing era.

This could be the jumping point as you say if they can find an actor as charismatic as Horst Janson or perhaps finally discover this generation's Lee/Cushing which the horror genre is clearly lacking.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Basarab, re the Karnstein connection this is dropped in the novel - but doesn't lack for it.

Re a reboot, it would have to be the current incarnation of Hammer, one supposes, but the trailer for Woman in Black looks rather good and gothic.

That said they have had a hit (let me in) as you mention and a miss (Beyond the Rave). I haven't actually seen Wake Wood and so can't comment.

Zahir Blue said...

Okay, I gotta say that Captain Kronos never worked for me as a film. The lead was boring, we never got to know enough about the other characters, the villain of the piece was so mysterious as to be invisible and certainly didn't excite me once they emerged from the shadows. On the other hand, the idea was a perfectly good one. Much comes down IMHO to the casting of the lead--you need someone with the personal appeal of a Daniel Radcliffe, Daniel Craig or Hugh Jackman (no, I'm not suggesting any of them for the role) coupled with a genuinely interesting script. Methinks Kronos can work, but needs a re-imagining.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Just goes to prove, Zahir, that we all like different things. I thought Horst was fantastic... but if we all liked the same it would trully be boring.

That said we agree on a reboot, that much is clear, and obe hopes Hammer might feel the same way