CIPC #80: Captain Kronos – Vampire hunter

Captain Kronos – Vampire hunter is not exactly the sort of title that inspires a lot of confidence, but, surprisingly, the movie is not that bad. Now, bear in mind that it is a seventies Hammer movie, so you shouldn’t be expecting The Shawshank redemption, but if you just want a fun little adventure movie with some supernatural motives sprinkled in it’s serviceable enough. When I first watched, it was not clear to me at all why it was advertised as a horror movie, let alone why it was rated R – it looks very bright, there is almost no blood, the dialogue is light and joky – but then we’re treated to the following gruesome image:

Now, to the movie’s credit, this is only on screen for a few seconds, but I can see how a young child might be scarred for life by a scene like this. I don’t just mean that the board has been set up wrongly, as white’s king’s rook is on a black square –  that, like erupting volcanoes, forest fires, and terroristic attacks has become one of those facts of life to which we, as a culture, are completely desensitised1 – but also the text:

Grost: Queen to King and mate in one.

No! That’s not valid chess lingo! If they’re using English notation, the ‘King’ part makes sense, but there should be a coordinate as well (presumably King 2 in this case). On top of that, ‘King’ in the English notation would be the e-file, while the queen is moved to the d-file. In fact, the right sentence would be ‘Queen to Queen 2’.

All that and we have barely even looked at the board! Here is a closer view of this horror show:2

I immediately have to note that black’s queenside is mostly obscured  by a strategically placed candle and cup. What is hidden behind them? Some pieces, if Grost’s claim that it’s mate in one holds true. One possibility is that there’s a black rook on b8 or a black bishop hiding on c8.3 Alternatively, there could be a white bishop on a7 at or white knight on a6. Technically, there might be second white queen somewhere on black’s queenside, but that’s pushing the limits of plausibility.

Realism: 1/5 Clearly, black has been playing on for too long, but it doesn’t seem too out of place. Except that everything is wrong. There’s the faulty board orientation, of course, but also how did this bishop end up on h8.

Probable winner: Grost seems to be up two rooks and a queen. Even if it’s not mate in one, that should suffice.

1. [Plus there’s the extenuating circumstance that this h1-is-white convention probably did not yet exist in the 17th century, when this movie seems to take place.]
2. [Diagram caught with this editor.]
3. [Possibly Desmond Tutu.]