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Bizarrely sidelined by the studio at the time of its release, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunterhas since become a solid favourite amongst the Hammer catalogue.
Written and directed by the masterful Brian Clemens, it is a refreshing take on the Hammer Vampire movie - indeed the vampire legend as a whole - and should have led to further adventures for the character.
It was an obvious choice for one of the early Hammer novelisations and I have relished the opportunity to flesh out certain areas of the film and to hopefully make the story come alive on the page for the modern reader just as the film came alive on screen at the time of its release.
I was given a good deal of leeway with regards changing the story but I've stuck very faithfully to Brian's original. The dialogue is, for the most part, new and there are extra scenes and more character depth. This is a different medium and hopefully I've played to its strengths. Also, what's the point in a cover version unless you bring something new to it?
BUY FROM AMAZON.CO.UK HERE:Kronos (Hammer)
More info from an interview conducted by James Whittington on behalf of The Horror Channel:
HC: Writing the novelisation of what has become a cult classic must have been a bit of a daunting task. How did you approach it?
GA: It was daunting, yes. It was clear from the off that Hammer wanted me to be extremely respectful of the original and not make any major changes. Which was fine of course, and the attitude I would have had anyway given the tightness of my anorak on the subject. I had met writer and director Brian Clemens a few times, and had the awkward task of dropping a line promising not to break his original idea. He was very supportive and was kind enough to say lovely things about it in his foreword to the book. As I got into it though I realised that I needed to be a bit braver than I had originally intended, a book is such a different beast from a film. A good movie doesn't necessarily make a good book.
For example: the movie never specifies where it is set or when. That's fine on screen but when you're delving deeper into the characters and trying to build-up a sense of place on the page you have to bring more detail in. Kronos and his old friend Dr. Marcus had fought together in "the war" so I decided that would be Oliver Cromwell's troops in Ireland, a particularly bloody period. Having decided on that, another character's backstory was enlivened by the inclusion of Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General simply because it fit perfectly into that era and added an extra dimension. Then you have to flesh out the other people -- particularly the incidental characters. In a vampire movie you tend to have a long list of interchangeable pretty females who end up dead. Clemens managed to bring a few character touches into the movie but at the end of the day, for reasons of pace if nothing else, you have to keep the camera's focus elsewhere. So I fleshed out the bit parts a great deal. One in fact -- because having built him up I had to run with it -- now plays a major part in the climax of the story. Actually the climax was always going to have to change a bit, sword fights are not as interesting in a book as they are on screen. I also managed to include a few elements that Brian planned to feature in the original movie but ended up cutting, Kronos’ method of transport for example. The aim is to tell the story again but in a way that makes it fresh and worthwhile for those who know it well. Hopefully I've managed that.
HC: Did you use the original script or view the movie lots of times or did you write from memory?
GA: I'd already viewed the movie lots of times! Hammer asked if I needed a DVD for research but that was before they realised what a fan they had on their hands. I re-watched it though of course, because you have a different perspective on a movie when you know you’re going to have to novelise it. I made lots of notes then put the film away, it was important that the book stood up as its own thing.
HC: Were you given a tight deadline?
GA: Ridiculously tight. Once it had been agreed that I was going to work on the Hammer Books line, Kronos was mentioned but with the caveat that it would have to be written extremely quickly. Even more so as I already had a lot of work on and had to finish two other books before I could even start it! Still.. It was Kronos.. can you imagine saying "No, that’s OK, I'll wait until the next movie becomes available."? I said yes and then got very, very stressed.
HC: How many drafts did the book go through?
GA: For the reasons outlined above, not many! I tend to go back over stuff as I work so I rarely complete whole drafts independent of one another anyway. Still, it was a case of typing "The End" and submitting it straight away. It was then proofed, edited and returned to me so that I could have one more pass and make any final changes I wanted to make. To be honest though I'm used to writing quickly, the books I tend to work on have neither the schedule nor payment structure that allow for months of quiet plodding. I tend to burn through periods of working twelve-fourteen hour days, seven days a week, just to get the words down. Then, between books, I have a week or so when I take things much easier.
HC: Do you want to do more Hammer tie-ins and if so (and you had the choice) which movies would you choose?
GA: I'm contracted for three so you haven't seen the last of me! The next -- and I'm working on it now -- will be The Hands of the Ripper, another favourite. This time the book will be quite a lot different to the film, not because there's anything wrong with the movie (I think it's one of Hammer's best) but just because there's a way of doing it on the page that I think will be better for that medium. The biggest change is that it will no longer be a period story! Which opens up a massive can of worms, I know, but honestly... it will still very much be The Hands of the Ripper, just a remake rather than a straight novelisation. I'm immensely pleased with it so far and can't wait for it to be finished, published and shared. After that, who knows? Kiss of the Vampirewould make a great novel, as would Satanic Rites of Dracula... It all depends on what rights Hammer can arrange. As fans know, the Hammer catalogue is part-owned by many different studios so negotiating the rights for which films we can work on is lengthy and difficult. Perhaps I'll end up with On the Buses!