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Vampyr (1932)

Vampyr marks my first review (and probably viewing) for a film this old.  Going in I never expected to love this film, silent films (which this film for the most part is) don't usually scream high quality entertainment.  Usually films of this era are only viewed for entertainment value by those who thoroughly enjoy them, not by the casual viewer.  It's a film you'd expect to see shown in a college film class, not at home on a Friday movie night.  Still there are some things to appreciate about Vampyr, while it might not be the most enjoyable thing to sit through it's far from punishment.

Vampyr follows traveler Allan Grey whose in search of supernatural events, his travels leads him to a small village where on the outskirts all sorts of strange things appear to be occurring.  In an old abandoned castle shadows prance about in work or in play but with no human owners, there is the sound of dogs and children but none ever in sight.  Further along is the estate of an old man whose daughter is suffering the effects of blood loss due to strange bite marks on her neck.  It is here that Grey learns of the evil beings known as Vampires, humans who are no longer alive but roam the night sucking the blood of the young to stay strong and capturing the souls of villagers for Satan.

First off Vampyr is not a film you should watch if you are tired, it will put you to sleep.  It's a near silent film with a handful of dialogue in German requiring you to read subtitles; combined with the rather soft music I was out in about twenty minutes during my first attempt watching.  It's not that the film is boring, it's that it requires a lot of attention to be able to stay with the story and understand everything that's occurring.  It's visually where Vampyr shines and is essentially the only reason it's worth viewing.  For a film made in the early 30's I was quite impressed with what would have been "special effects", whether it was the shadows without owners, or Grey's out of body experience.  Also the look of the film in general makes Vampyr work, it's not the story at makes it relatively creepy it's the overall ambiance and the fact that this literally is a very old film.

Story-wise I was disappointed, Vampyr leaves a lot to be desired, so if you're looking for a Dracula type film look elsewhere.  While vampires may me the subject of the film don't expect to see an evil fanged creature sucking blood.  The vampire in this film is an old woman and she only receives about two minutes of screen time.  Vampyr is really more of an introduction to the mythos, not a typical vampire film.  Also being a near silent and a foreign film, what little story there is can sometimes be difficult to grasp if you're not paying very close attention, and the fact that the story at times seems rushed, almost jumping ahead of itself, really requires your undivided attention otherwise you'll be lost.

Overall, I'd recommend checking out Vampyr only if you're a fan of early era cinema, especially foreign and silent films, or you're willing to give this film your full attention and not a halfhearted viewing, if you can't do that I guarantee it will put you to sleep or you'll just hate it.  In the end, Vampyr is an interesting look at the early beginnings of the golden age of classic horror cinema and while there may not be a whole lot to the story it is visually quite stunning.


1 comment:

  1. oh, with all these vampires attacking both you and Ryan at the same time, I feel we are in the need of Van Helsing or Solomon Kane :)))


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