Horror Fest 2016 – Vampyr (1932)

vampyr-posterHorror Fest 2016: Vampyr (1932)
Cast:      Julian West as Allan Gray
Maurice Schutz as The Lord of the Manor

Based on the novel of short stories In a Glass Darkly by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Screenplay by Christen Jul & Carl Th. Dreyer
Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc)

vampyr-1Plot: Allan Gray is a man interested in the supernatural and occult, particularly vampires. He travels to the village of Courtempierre where a young girl named Leone has been bitten by a vampire. Now, Gray and the girl’s sister Giselle must find the vampire who bit her and kill it before Leone completely turns into a creature of the night.

Personal Thoughts: I remember seeing pictures of Vampyr for years but didn’t discover it until about 15 years ago. During a trip to Las Vegas, I bought the original 1998 Image DVD at the old Virgin store in the Forum Shops. My wife Geri was puzzled why I traveled to Vegas and wanted to buy a movie. She thought I should be buying a souvenir to remind me of the trip. Yet, all these years later, I still have the DVD as part of my collection and it reminds me of that trip. Most film collectors will understand.

vampyr-2Vampyr is a unique film, with elements of Carmilla, as well as premature burial. It’s washed out appearance is due in part to the filming process but also to the poor state of the film prints. With limited dialogue, it creates an almost dreamlike state, very different from other horror films of the same period. While my copy is an abridged 72-minute version, the newer Criterion release is the complete German copy of the film. Not your usual horror film, Vampyr is certainly essential viewing.

Trivia:

  • The first sound film from Carl Dreyer, which was difficult due to being made in three languages, French, German and English. However, there is no record of a finished English version. Therefore, much of the film is silent with voices and sound effects added in after completion.
  • The film was funded by Nicolas de Gunzberg, who also starred as Allan Gray under the name “Julian West.”
  • The film was a commercial and critical failure but has become more widely accepted in recent years due to its’ original effects and atmospheric approach.

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