Vampyr (1932)


I probably wouldn’t ever see Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr if it wasn’t for The 1001 Movies You Must See that I recently joined. This sucker was hard to find, but I managed to find the Criterion Edition of this classic vampire tale. I made the same mistake again by watching a semi-silent movie at night. I dozed.

Allan Gray (Julian West) religiously studies of the occult, devil worshiping and vampires lore. He becomes so obsessed that he could not distinguish between real and the supernatural. One night, he wanders into a creepy chateau down by a river in a town called Coutermpierre.

When he gets settled in, he hears what appears to be an incantation from somewhere in the inn. He investigates. Allan doesn’t see anyone and returns to his room. In the midst of sleep,  the lord of the manor (Maurice Schutz) bursts into his room and babbles to Allan about leaving the place before the house takes him over. He leaves a mysterious package on desk to be opened after his death. After the lord leaves,  Allan fears that someone– not himself–  is in trouble.

During his stay at the chateau, he sees shadows dancing on the walls, but nobody is there. He meets more of the inhabitants like the scythe-wielding man that carries a bell. Allan explores more of the chateau and the strange happenings around the place. The lord’s daughters, Gisèlle (Rena Handel) and Léone (Sybille Schmitz) have been suffering for what appears to be anemia.

The lord of the house is shot by one of the shadows and Allan is asked to stay away from the family with a servant to get the village doctor (Jan Heironimko). After the lord’s death, Allan opens the package to find a book, “The Strange History of Vampires” by Paul Bonnard. It chronicles the history of vampire lore. He reads the passages and suspects that there is a vampire amongst them.

This movie was made in1932. I want to know how they got the skulls or the shadows to move independently. This is a fascinating movie that I thought was a silent film. It has probably ten minutes of actual dialogue in the movie. Most of the time is Allan exploring the chateau.

The one complaint I have to the movie is the camerawork. It felt jerky. The way that the camera follows the characters in and out of rooms felt jerky and sped up the suspense to be effective.

Judgment: I would recommned this for the people who don’t want to be the blood and gore of other vampire movies.

Rating: ****


About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on November 11, 2009, in 1932, Fantasy, Foreign Language, Horror, Mystery, Psychological, Suspense, The Criterion Collection, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Nice, but your supposed to wait and post on Nov 29th with everyone else! That’s when I’ll be setting up the the introduction post for this film. Oh well no biggie, just try and hold off on posting your other ones until the specified date. 😉

    • Well, I tried to cover my bases, because I might be too busy or out of town at the end of the month.

      • Ah, that’s fine. I forgot about it being the holiday season. Anyways I’ll comment more on your review at the end of the month. I started watching this one late at night like you did and started to doze off as well, so I’ll pick up the rest of it later.

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