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on 7 July 2006
What happens when a world-class director unblushingly makes a scary movie? It's less of a silly question than one might think. There have been great horror films or course, and great horror film directors. But conscious contributions to the genre, especially of the gothic kind, from the stratospheric likes of say Fellini, Ford, Eisenstein, and Renoir are hard to find. Kurosawa, for instance, comes close to the spooky intensity required with Throne Of Blood, his successful and atmospheric reworking of Macbeth. Cocteau's Beauty And The Beast is full of necessary fairytale terror and awe; Hitchcock produced in Psycho a terrifying thriller with strong horror overtones; Bergman included a terrifying dream sequence in Wild Strawberries, and so on. But while there are memorable outright contributions here and there, notably from the likes of Polanski and Kubrick, genre pieces at this level of artistry can be unexpectedly hard to find. One reason is that the greatest talents in world cinema have tended to work outside of, or to confound, genre expectations. Another is that they often reject the 'commercial' project in favour of something more personal, more amenable to an outstanding creative nature.

The major figure of Carl Theodor Dreyer is one of a select group of directors deemed 'transcendental' along with the likes of Ozu and Bresson. Paul Schrader and other critics identify them as those filmmakers who habitually suggest spiritual intensity by ordinary means. Characteristically austere, often using non-professional talent in their films, they find universal truths through a gradual un-dramatic revelation of interior life. All this means in this context is that one would think such directors far away from the flashy supernaturalism and ghastly melodrama normally making up so much of the traditional horror film, a genre where its the extraordinary providing the revelation for the audience, not the mundane. But then one remembers that both Dreyer and Bresson made memorable versions of Joan of Arc, where their representing of terrifying events showed how disturbing an emotionally stark and restrained approach could prove. And, in 1932, about as the first great Universal horror cycle was getting into its stride in Hollywood, Dreyer made his Vampyr.

It is interesting to compare Dreyer's great work with that of Murnau, the only other great director who made a broadly comparable title. Both the German director and the Dane took their inspiration from literary horror classics. Murnau based his Nosferatu (1922) on Dracula while, for his inspiration, Dreyer too turned to an English author: Sheridan le Fanu and his novel Carmilla. But the evil thrill of Nosferatu is that it takes place in a concrete 'reality' of sorts, ghostly special effects notwithstanding. By contrast Vampyr is a strange, dreamlike film, one virtually silent or subdued, despite its soundtrack. Moreover it mainly exists in variable prints, the poor state of which merely adds to the strange dislocatedness of unfolding events portrayed. Dreyer's terror lies in a world of shadows, surreality amplified by some remarkable cinematography, the roots of nightmare ever subtle, where camera movement can excite as much as dread and anticipation as any vampire out clawing at a victim.

Vampyr's story, such as it is, tells of Allan Grey (Julian West), a man studious of vampires. In a small French town, he takes a room at an inn. His sleep is interrupted when a strange man (Maurice Shutz) comes into his room speaking disturbingly about death, then leaves a small package with instructions that it should be opened upon his death. Allen gets out of bed, and prowls around the inn and its spooky surroundings in search of an explanation. Eventually he wanders onto a nearby estate where he finds the mysterious man living with his two daughters. A vampire has bitten one of his daughters, and the house is shrouded in death...

Once seen and felt, the peculiarly eerie atmosphere that characterises Dreyer's work is never forgotten. Indeed, Vampyr's influence arguably began at once, for a similar tone of silent mystery pervades some scenes in White Zombie, incidentally one of Bela Lugosi's best, made just the same year - another film which made in sound which often plays like a silent. Like Vampyr, White Zombie includes several wordless sequences which are startlingly eerie and atmospheric. (Both this and present film are much better than Tod Browning's famous version of Dracula also made at about the same time, which these days seem positively wooden by comparison.) And, years later, Ken Russell was to mimic the premature burial sequence of Vampyr, glass windowed coffin and all, in his uneven Mahler while arguably a similar, dreamlike, touch can be found in the work of the French horror auteur Jean Rollin, who in the 1970s made of soft tinted vampirism almost a genre of its own.

Of his original film Dreyer said, "I wanted to create the daydream on film... to show that horror is not a part of the things around us, but of our own subconscious mind." To help achieve this, he and his cameraman Rudolph Mate shot much very early in the morning and frequently through fine gauze - a creative decision increasing the sense of mystery surrounding events. The resultant shimmer and softness which fell over scenes suggests the supernatural confusion felt by the hero, and add a spooky disconnectiveness to events. Allied to this, as already noted, this is a work where one is acutely aware of camera placement and movement, of shadow and light. Dreyer's sensitive direction means that the lens becomes a lurking accompaniment to Grey's, and therefore our, unease.

Main actor Julian West, who also financed a lot of the picture, makes a suitable impression; part of the mood in what is his only significant film. Forty years later he again appeared again on screen, but with less impact. In retrospect nothing could compare to his appearance here, his pale, Lovecraftian features perfectly in tune with the gloomy goings on. His anonymous freshness as an actor makes of him an everyman, a dramatic unknown fitting in exactly with the director's preferred casting with the undemonstrative and normal. And unlike Nosferatu's celebrated settings of castles, doom laden ships and spectral carriages, Vampyr's unease is primarily set amidst the domestic: an inn, a to-do private home or in common place out-buildings.

Dismayed by distracting subtitles, often faded visuals and poor soundtrack elements, admirers of Dreyer's masterpiece have long cried out in vain for a restored version, especially now that the later films of the director have been reissued. Even such earlier silents such as the lesser, decidedly more obscure, Master Of The House (1925) have lately arrived with a five star treatment on disc. Whether or not this lapse is due to a fatal absence of original materials I am not sure, but fans of one of the very finest horror films, and a rare one by a great director to boot, will not be satisfied until this Vampyr at least is resurrected and given the new life it deserves.
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I remember buying this film on region 1 ages ago and just didn't understand what the fuss was about.I found it to be slow,gloomy and pretty poorly acted so I promptly sold it.Then I heard about this latest DVD release with many extras so I thought that I would give it another chance.I am really glad that I did and was quite shocked at how my opinion had changed.

'Vampyr' is really a nightmare captured on film with many strange but unsettling images.It isn't a long film but it does make you wish that it was perhaps 15 to 20 minutes longer.It is dripping with atmosphere and I have to admit that it probably won't appeal to modern viewers who are more used to blood and gore teenage slasher flicks now.Maybe that is unfair in a way because this is far more haunting than many a recent horror movie and it could still have an impact.

There are some very good extras with this DVD including a special booklet and a commentary from devoted fan Guillermo del Torro.There are a couple of deleted scenes and a choice of soundtracks(restored or unrestored).There has been a lot of good work by Eureka in putting this package together for their 'Masters Of Cinema' series so well done to them.Hardly any dialogue is spoken in this movie and it isn't needed as it is the images that count and in that respect 'Vampyr' is indeed a classic of the genre.
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on 30 December 2008
Vampyr was made by Dreyer in 1930 when sound were new in cinema. And this shows because it mostly feels like a silent movie: there are few dialogues. This also has too do with the fact that Dreyer had to record the film in english, german and french, so scenes with speech had to be repeated. With the effect that those scenes were kept to a minimum. Vampyr was shot on location, in a castle, a flour mil, an ice factory and an inn, as I understand it. Economy was limited and the film was financed by baron Nicolas de Gunzburg, on condition that he played the lead (Allan Gray) in the film! And, as Guillermo del Toro says in his commentary: the baron looks just like HP Lovecraft!

The film itself is grainy, with intent capturing the right kind of light and fogginess. The speech sounds disjointed and the locations and logic of actions can be confusing to say the least. Vampyr was no success with the audience in it's time of release, and it's not too hard understanding why. The first time I was Vampyr I actually was disappointed because it felt so strange and a little silly with the vampire manual that Allan Gray reads from (a manual given to him by a strange man appearing in his hote room in the middle of the night). But undeniable is the visual impact because Vampyr looks really original and very dreamlike: one can actually discuss how much of the action takes place in 'reality' and in Greys mind with it's focus on the mystical and supernatural.

Some months after watching Vampyr I returned to it with the feeling that I didn't 'get it' the first time. Luckily it was the MoC DVD overflowing with extra material that I bought. I listened to the del Toro commentary and right after that I listened to the commentary by Tony Rayns (yes there are two different commentary tracks) which gave another perspective. Both commentaries are fascinatint and worth listening to and give Vampyr a new dimension, supplying alternative interpretations, facts about production and pointing out details easily missed. Also, the DVD includes a 30 min 'visual essay' by Dreyer-scholar Jörgen Roos which contextualises Vampyr, and also a documentary about Dreyer. As if this wasn't enough there is also a short (14 mins) documentary about the baron, and a pdf with the story 'Carmilla' which inspired Vampyr. And as usual there is a thick booklet with essays, pictures etc.

After going through the extras - which was a delight and far more rewarding than actually watching the movie! - Vampyr (and Dreyer) has gained my respect. The film does not explain itself totally - I still see it as en enigma what actually happens when Allen Grey sees himself in the coffin (the most famous scene in the film). But this, as in the films of David Lynch, is part of the charm that makes it interesting and re-watchable.
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on 28 August 2008
Well, I got this DVD (R2 MoC Version) - and gave it a longish spin last night. Given the number of extras I couldn't get through it all in a single sitting - so I'll revisit today probably.

Anyway - the print looks as good as it ever will, probably. Definitely decent (and Criterion are using the same print, so we know we're getting the best possible).

Firstly I watched the film with the restored soundtrack (an unrestored version is on the disc too). There's still some hiss, but when you take into account the history of this film, that's to be expected. For those that don't know, the film was shot silent, and then sounds were post-synced in three languages - English, German, and French. Only the German and French tracks remain - this disc uses the German version. Dialog is minimal.

As for the film, it's a classic, and so needs no hyping from someone like myself. It's a fantastic counterpoint to the Universal titles released around the same time. The Universal titles are hailed as classics (and they are), but they also gave us some of the first sound glimpses into what would become the customs and norms of narrative story telling, and of the language of film. However, there were alternative methods offered up, and cinema could have been quite different - Vampyr is as example of one of these alternatives (Un Chien Andalou offers a more radical approach from the surrealists). Vampyr plays with narrative structure quite a bit, and breaks all kinds of screen boundaries. Along with this we have a rather interesting and straight forward tale of a Vampire - so the film can satisfy both fans of straight up horror, and those interested in critical analysis and study.

After watching the film I immediately put it on again, this time with the first of two commentary tracks. First up was the track from Tony Rayns. This track also appears on the Criterion disc.

It's a decent commentary, jam-packed with information. It's a tad dry and it's clear that Tony is a film scholar. He guides you through the various techniques and decisions made, and the history of the film. There are no pauses, and Tony fills in the time well. It is definitely worth listening to this one.

Did I like this film? Well, it's rare I watch a film, and then watch it right away with the commentary in order to learn more. So you can imagine how rare it is for me to sit and immediately watch and listen with a second commentary track - this time an exclusive for the MoC disc. It's with Guillermo del Tore, director of Pans Labyrinth and Hellboy.

This commentary track is the better of the two. It's quite a scoop that MoC got the guy to do this track, but it goes one better and introduces a boatload of new ideas, interesting discussion, and opportunities to think about the film itself. This track is the more essential of the two. No information is repeated between commentary tracks.

If you want to know the differences between the two, I'd put it this way: Tony Rayns is clearly a scholar, he's very interested in the details, and dissecting the skills involved. But it comes across as more of a lecture, academic in tone. Tony doesn't sound like he loves film (though I'm sure he does). He's doesn't come across as being excited by it. He knows a lot, but there seems to be a lack of passion. On the other hand the del Toro track is the effort of a man in love with cinema, in love with this film, and with unique ideas about what it's trying to say to us. del Toro is in awe, but never gushing - he just has a passion as a filmmaker that Rayns doesn't seem to have. Both tracks are a pleasure and worthy inclusions - but the Criterion missing out on the del Toro track is a bit of a tragedy.

I wasn't sure going in whether this additional exclusive for Moc would truly be worthy - but now I've heard both I'd say they offer a wonderful counterpoint, and if I had to choose (and thank goodness I don't) I'd go with the del Toro. The del Toro track spends a lot of time discussing the lead as a Jesus figure, and the film's many Memento Mori allusions. Brilliant. He even throws in a couple of moments from Vampyr that he stole for his own films.

I then watched the two deleted scenes (sound issues prevented the scenes being added back into the film). They're short, and definitely worth watching. It was the German censor who snipped these, and by todays standards they're not shocking. Nice to see them here though.

Along with all this I read the 80 page booklet. What can you say about that? If you bought MoC's Nosferatu disc (and if you haven't, why not?!?!) then you know what to expect. It's packed with lots of articles and pictures - and is worth the price of this DVD alone.

There are other extras, another approximately 90 minutes or so - featurettes on Carl Th. Dreyer (Director), one on the lead (who was a Baron!), and one on the films influences. I'll hopefully get to them soon.

One final extra - there is a PDF on the disc with the original stories that inspired Dreyer to make the film (Sheridan's Le Fanu's Carmilla). It's 124 pages long should you want to print it out. Nice addition that.

The film is 72 minutes in length, and a real joy. MoC have put out a stellar DVD. I can't imagine what else they could have put on it. There's a choice between this edition and the Criterion - but the exclusive inclusion of the del Toro track means the MoC edition is the better of the two, imo. Having heard both commentary tracks, the del Toro one offers the more interesting discussion (though both are worthy - if very different).

Essential this - and I just had a terrific nights entertainment. That I watched it, back-to-back, three times consecutively, says it all.

Buy it!
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The rat-toothed Nosferatu and the charming Transylvanian Count are the best known examples of early vampire movies, mostly because there weren't very many others at the time.

But more often than not, "Vampyr" gets passed over when you talk about early vampire movies -- and that's a shame. Carl Th. Dreyer's masterpiece (loosely based on the works of J. Sheridan Le Fanu) is a straightforward little story wrapped in a hazy cocoon of dreamlike imagery and haunting direction. From the very beginning, this movie clings to you like a spiderweb.

Occult student Allan Gray is staying at a hotel in the French countryside. But after being woken by a strange old man's cryptic warning, he finds that the inn is swarming with eerie supernatural happenings, including shadows that move independently. After he departs, a strange old man lets an ancient crone out of a closet.

And when Allan arrives at a nearby chateau, he finds that the owner has been murdered, and his daughter Leone is suffering from mysterious wounds. After the girl is rescued from a strange old crone, she begins acting predatory toward her sister Gisele -- and the weird old doctor says that only a transfusion will save her. But the doctor is in league with the vampire -- and is working to destroy Leone...

"Vampyr" has a pretty simple storyline, loosely based on a couple of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's short stories (including the classic "Carmilla"). But it's not the plot that makes this movie a classic -- it's the powerful, ghostly visuals that permeate it. And the beautiful real-life settings (the inn, chateau and church) don't hurt the atmosphere of it all.

In many ways, "Vampyr" is like a silent movie -- the characters are quiet, text cards intersperse the scenes, and several minutes are taken up by printed text from the "History of Vampires" book. In addition to this, the visuals are so powerful that it's almost a shock when one of the characters actually speaks out loud. Even then, nobody says anything unless it's actually necessary.

Dreyer films this movie as if it were a choreographed dream, letting the camera drift through ornate rooms and hazy hills. And he often fixed on striking images -- pale feverish faces, still windvanes, cloudy skies, scythes, and the movement of shadows on walls and the ground. And there are some spectacularly creepy moments, such as when Leone starts baring her teeth gleefully at Gisele, or Allan watching the view from inside a coffin.

And he steeps the entire movie in dreamlike effects -- hazy countrysides, skeletons, floating girls, and shadows that can dance and move independently. These strange effects are done almost effortlessly, adding to the feeling that you're surrounded by the unreal. Dreyer even puts a note of humor in from time to time, such as the dancing shadows with their little folk band.

Julian West (aka Nicolas de Gunzburg) does a pretty solid job as our unflappable hero, although I question how his suit remains pristine all through the movie -- and he does a glorious job in that bizarre dream sequence. Sybille Schmitz has a small part, but is wonderfully feral as she starts to turn vampiric, and Henriette Gérard is unspeakably creepy as the ancient, stone-faced vampire who wants other people to suffer as well.

Criterion is apparently giving "Vampyr" the treatment it sorely needs, cleaning up the prints in an effort to restore the clarity. It's also got new subtitles, loads of information about Dreyer, his filmmaking and the creation of "Vampyr," articles about it, the screenplay and one of Le Fanu's short stories. Nice to see this underrated little movie is getting the attention is deserves.

Carl Th. Dreyer's "Vampyr" is a rarity among vampire movies -- all haunting images and ghostly, subtle horror, with excellent acting and exquisite directions. It's a cinematic classic that should not be overlooked.
0Comment|52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The rat-toothed Nosferatu and the charming Transylvanian Count are the best known examples of early vampire movies, mostly because there weren't very many others at the time.

But more often than not, "Vampyr" gets passed over when you talk about early vampire movies -- and that's a shame. Carl Th. Dreyer's masterpiece (loosely based on the works of J. Sheridan Le Fanu) is a straightforward little story wrapped in a hazy cocoon of dreamlike imagery and haunting direction. From the very beginning, this movie clings to you like a spiderweb.

Occult student Allan Gray is staying at a hotel in the French countryside. But after being woken by a strange old man's cryptic warning, he finds that the inn is swarming with eerie supernatural happenings, including shadows that move independently. After he departs, a strange old man lets an ancient crone out of a closet.

And when Allan arrives at a nearby chateau, he finds that the owner has been murdered, and his daughter Leone is suffering from mysterious wounds. After the girl is rescued from a strange old crone, she begins acting predatory toward her sister Gisele -- and the weird old doctor says that only a transfusion will save her. But the doctor is in league with the vampire -- and is working to destroy Leone...

"Vampyr" has a pretty simple storyline, loosely based on a couple of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's short stories (including the classic "Carmilla"). But it's not the plot that makes this movie a classic -- it's the powerful, ghostly visuals that permeate it. And the beautiful real-life settings (the inn, chateau and church) don't hurt the atmosphere of it all.

In many ways, "Vampyr" is like a silent movie -- the characters are quiet, text cards intersperse the scenes, and several minutes are taken up by printed text from the "History of Vampires" book. In addition to this, the visuals are so powerful that it's almost a shock when one of the characters actually speaks out loud. Even then, nobody says anything unless it's actually necessary.

Dreyer films this movie as if it were a choreographed dream, letting the camera drift through ornate rooms and hazy hills. And he often fixed on striking images -- pale feverish faces, still windvanes, cloudy skies, scythes, and the movement of shadows on walls and the ground. And there are some spectacularly creepy moments, such as when Leone starts baring her teeth gleefully at Gisele, or Allan watching the view from inside a coffin.

And he steeps the entire movie in dreamlike effects -- hazy countrysides, skeletons, floating girls, and shadows that can dance and move independently. These strange effects are done almost effortlessly, adding to the feeling that you're surrounded by the unreal. Dreyer even puts a note of humor in from time to time, such as the dancing shadows with their little folk band.

Julian West (aka Nicolas de Gunzburg) does a pretty solid job as our unflappable hero, although I question how his suit remains pristine all through the movie -- and he does a glorious job in that bizarre dream sequence. Sybille Schmitz has a small part, but is wonderfully feral as she starts to turn vampiric, and Henriette Gérard is unspeakably creepy as the ancient, stone-faced vampire who wants other people to suffer as well.

Carl Th. Dreyer's "Vampyr" is a rarity among vampire movies -- all haunting images and ghostly, subtle horror, with excellent acting and exquisite directions. It's a cinematic classic that should not be overlooked.
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on 28 April 2010
If anyone out there is thinking of dabbling in early Horror then the Euerka Masters of Cinema series is your first port of call. Their Nosferatu and Faust discs are fantastic and this, slightly more obscure, Dreyer movie is given the absolute Rolls Royce treatment. Given all the ill informed rubbish talked about the horror genre (regressive, infantile..) it's a joy to see such care and attention lavished on one of its minor masterpieces.
More than any other, this is a movie which requires multiple viewings. It is hypnotic, dream-like and utterly disorientating. A man, Allan Gray, visits cinemas creepiest hotel (Eraserhead and Barton Fink were born here) and is beset by the vampiric forces of evil. Plot wise it's thin but it's the visuals that matter - the dancing shadows, the view from a coffin, the flour mill - even if you've never seen this film you will get a chilly twinge of recognition - these images plumb directly into the subconscious.
I totally agree with the previous reviewer - the Guillermo Del Toro commentary is unmissable - his knowledge and insight I expected, but a fanboy enthusiasm for a film nearly 80 years old - brilliant!
In short if you collect genre films or indeed any films you need this.
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Any film that Hitchcock deemed `The only film worth watching - twice' has a lot to live up to. And when I first viewed this recently it did not disappoint.

We are taken on a strange journey, where we follow the adventures of one Allan Gray, student of the arcane. Staying in a village inn he has a series of strange visitations, and is slowly drawn into the world of the local Chatelain and his attempts to protect his two daughters from an unknown terror that threatens to destroy them in this life and the next. The plot seems quite straightforward, but it is presented in a superb surreal fashion.

Allan Gray wanders around as though a man in a dream. Seeing many strange visions, including his own burial, there is a feeling that he is a man under a dark spell, and the film is the story of his struggle to break free. The cinematography is masterful, with most of the film deliberately overexposed and filmed through a gauze to produce the dream like feeling. There are many trick shots and cinematic illusions which stand up well, even today, and really add to the surreal feel of the piece.

Made in the very early days of talkies, this feels a lot more like a silent film. The dialogue is sparse, and much of the plot is exposited via intertitles and an old book that one of the characters reads. What dialogue there is was recorded on very basic equipment, and as such sometimes sounds a bit distant. \Far from being a problem, this only serves to heighten the dreamlike quality of the film.

This is yet another super release from Eureka. The film has been restored and is presented in the best possible quality. The sound is pretty good, although it does cut out in one or two places for a few seconds. This did not affect my viewing pleasure though. The film is presented in the correct aspect ratio. There is a host of extras, including some extended scenes that were originally censored, two full length commentaries and some documentaries about the film and it's star Julian West, AKA Baron de Gunzburg. There is also a PDF of the book that inspired the film. Finally there is an extensive book with many cast photos, essays and interesting info. All of these are mere garnish though, the main attraction is the excellent presentation of this classic and adsorbing film.
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The rat-toothed Nosferatu and the charming Transylvanian Count are the best known examples of early vampire movies, mostly because there weren't very many others at the time.

But more often than not, "Vampyr" gets passed over when you talk about early vampire movies -- and that's a shame. Carl Th. Dreyer's masterpiece (loosely based on the works of J. Sheridan Le Fanu) is a straightforward little story wrapped in a hazy cocoon of dreamlike imagery and haunting direction. From the very beginning, this movie clings to you like a spiderweb.

Occult student Allan Gray is staying at a hotel in the French countryside. But after being woken by a strange old man's cryptic warning, he finds that the inn is swarming with eerie supernatural happenings, including shadows that move independently. After he departs, a strange old man lets an ancient crone out of a closet.

And when Allan arrives at a nearby chateau, he finds that the owner has been murdered, and his daughter Leone is suffering from mysterious wounds. After the girl is rescued from a strange old crone, she begins acting predatory toward her sister Gisele -- and the weird old doctor says that only a transfusion will save her. But the doctor is in league with the vampire -- and is working to destroy Leone...

"Vampyr" has a pretty simple storyline, loosely based on a couple of J. Sheridan Le Fanu's short stories (including the classic "Carmilla"). But it's not the plot that makes this movie a classic -- it's the powerful, ghostly visuals that permeate it. And the beautiful real-life settings (the inn, chateau and church) don't hurt the atmosphere of it all.

In many ways, "Vampyr" is like a silent movie -- the characters are quiet, text cards intersperse the scenes, and several minutes are taken up by printed text from the "History of Vampires" book. In addition to this, the visuals are so powerful that it's almost a shock when one of the characters actually speaks out loud. Even then, nobody says anything unless it's actually necessary.

Dreyer films this movie as if it were a choreographed dream, letting the camera drift through ornate rooms and hazy hills. And he often fixed on striking images -- pale feverish faces, still windvanes, cloudy skies, scythes, and the movement of shadows on walls and the ground. And there are some spectacularly creepy moments, such as when Leone starts baring her teeth gleefully at Gisele, or Allan watching the view from inside a coffin.

And he steeps the entire movie in dreamlike effects -- hazy countrysides, skeletons, floating girls, and shadows that can dance and move independently. These strange effects are done almost effortlessly, adding to the feeling that you're surrounded by the unreal. Dreyer even puts a note of humor in from time to time, such as the dancing shadows with their little folk band.

Julian West (aka Nicolas de Gunzburg) does a pretty solid job as our unflappable hero, although I question how his suit remains pristine all through the movie -- and he does a glorious job in that bizarre dream sequence. Sybille Schmitz has a small part, but is wonderfully feral as she starts to turn vampiric, and Henriette Gérard is unspeakably creepy as the ancient, stone-faced vampire who wants other people to suffer as well.

Criterion is apparently giving "Vampyr" the treatment it sorely needs, cleaning up the prints in an effort to restore the clarity. It's also got new subtitles, loads of information about Dreyer, his filmmaking and the creation of "Vampyr," articles about it, the screenplay and one of Le Fanu's short stories. Nice to see this underrated little movie is getting the attention is deserves.

Carl Th. Dreyer's "Vampyr" is a rarity among vampire movies -- all haunting images and ghostly, subtle horror, with excellent acting and exquisite directions. It's a cinematic classic that should not be overlooked.
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on 11 December 2010
This is maybe the only film up to the quality of Murnau's Nosferatu (1922) although Vampyr is a completely different film. In Vampyr the most important thing is the atmosphere, not the vampire in itself (herself in this case). It's a masterpiece because Dreyer translated into images and sequences the feeling that something irrational and supernatural is happening. Fog, a lot of shadows on the wall/ground, some pictures you will never forget in your life once you have seen them for the first time. A lot of symbolism. There are also a lot of unanswered questions in the film, because of the script or because of the final editing (montage) of the film (i guess this last). These unanswered questions help the film to increase the level of unreality.
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