When you hear early vampire movies the first ones people will mention are either Nosferatu or Dracula with Bela Lugosi. There were others, but those are either unknown, most of the film is damaged or gone completely. One of the least known ones is the 1932 German movie Vampyr by Carl Theodor Dreyer. On the surface, it looks like a generic vampire movie, but upon further inspection, it’s actually one of the better vampire movies to come out during this time.
One thing that needs to said before I proceed, there is no English language print of this movie since all were destroyed. You can only watch it in German with English subtitles.
With that, Allan Grey stumbles upon an inn where a man who breaks into his room one night leaves a package with the words “to opened upon my death.” That man dies, the package is a book about vampires and, curiously, his daughter is becoming a vampire.
While not a groundbreaking plot by today’s standards, it’s still pretty entertaining to see how the plot plays out. We see early on that the village doctor is in cahoots with the vampire and..you know what? Let’s talk about him. He looks absolutely creepy with that hair, mustache and glasses just make him look like the typical 1920s villain. Every time he’s on screen, you can’t help but feel disturbed by his presence.
In fact, what makes this movie worth watching is how well shot and creepy it is. For a movie that came out in 1932, some of these techniques are amazing. One of the best ones is when Allan is in a coffin and we have a bird’s eye view of what he sees. While something like this is easy to pull off today, back then this was a huge pain in the ass.
There are some things that do drag down the movie a bit. One of the most glaring examples is that entire scene when Allan is in a coffin. While the camerawork is excellent, why he’s in there and the circumstances are a bit confusing.
Vampyr is a great movie that’s creepy and has a ton of great filming techniques. If you can find, give it a try and enjoy this forgotten gem.
Tags: Carl Theodor Dreyer, early vampire movies, Vampyr (1932) Review
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