Vampyr (1932)

Unrated  |   |  Horror  |  6 May 1932 (Germany)
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Reviews: 98 user | 114 critic

A traveler obsessed with the supernatural visits an old inn and finds evidence of vampires.


(as Carl Th. Dreyer)


(based on a book by) (as J. Sheridan Le Fanu) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Der Dorfartz (The Village Doctor)
Henriette Gérard ...
Der alte Diener (The Old Servant)
N. Babanini ...
Seine Frau (His Wife)
Jane Mora ...
Die Krankenschwester (The Nurse)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Georges Boidin ...
Limping Man


Allan Gray arrives late in the evening to a secluded riverside inn in the hamlet of Courtempierre. An old man enters his room, puts a sealed parcel on the table, blurts out that some woman mustn't die, and disappears. Gray senses in this a call for help. He puts the parcel in his pocket, and goes out. Eerie shadows lead him into an old house, where he encounters a weird village doctor. The doctor receives a bottle of poison from a strange, old woman. Through the window of an old castle Grey recognizes the old man from the inn. A shadow shoots the man, who drops dead. Inside the house Grey finds his two daughters, Gisèle and Léone, and some servants. He opens the parcel, and finds an old book about vampires. Léone is seriously ill after being bitten by a vampire. Instead of helping her, the village doctor places the bottle of poison at her bedside table, and then abducts her sister Gisèle. An old servant starts reading the old book, and finds out that the vampire in Courtempierre is a ... Written by Maths Jesperson {}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

vampire | doctor | book | servant | poison | See All (70) »




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

6 May 1932 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Castle of Doom  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


(DVD edition)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.19 : 1
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Did You Know?


The dank doctor's surgery and its abandoned, dirty look covered in cobwebs was said to be achieved by the director breaking jam jars on the floor then leaving the room shut off for a little over a month to attract various bugs and insects. See more »


At exactly 16 minutes (in the Criterion DVD) as the camera pans right, there is a reflection in a glass window of the camera operator cranking the camera. See more »


Featured in I Am Curious, Film (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Not your usual romp with the un-dead, but for a particular brand of movie-geek, there are some extraordinary things going for it
29 August 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Carl Theodor Dreyer will always be a household name among directors for me after viewing his Passion of Joan of Arc, one of the most emotionally wrenching, stylistically groundbreaking, and thoughtful of religious treatises. There not only did he reveal the eye of a cinematic genius, but he also had Renee Falconetti, one of only several people to truly pull off a performance by using the eyes to talk more than the voice. So, I read up on Dreyer and found that he also directed several sound films after the tragedy that was the butchering and loss of Joan of Arc. One of them was this film, a piece of experimental horror/mystery dealing with the supernatural, the occult, the damned- Vampires.

The story at times becomes a little too hard to follow, even beside the point that the film is meant to be surreal or nightmarish or what-have-you. What I did make out of it was that a man named Allan Gray (Julian West) somehow gets lured by his own curiosity comes upon a chateau where an old man (Maurice Schultz, one of the finest hair/face-styling jobs I've seen in an old-style horror movie) and his two daughters reside. Inter-cutting between excerpts of a book detailing the ABC's of vampire facts, bizarre and sad occurrences go on in the chateau, both to Alan and one of the daughters.

I suppose saying that the film at times veers off into haunting imagery is almost a compliment, but for some audiences this could be a turn off. On top of the fact that the film contains fewer lines than in any other vampire film I can think of, the whole tone and look of the film is, not to put a snob touch on it, unique. This would not likely be the kind of film to hang out with adolescent friends and drink beers to (that kind of film in the genre would be From Dusk Till Dawn). The one minor flaw in the film as well is, unlike Joan of Arc, the performances are less than brilliant, outside of the girl in the bed and at times West (Schultz, while believable in the look of the character, is a little too 'shocked' in most scenes).

But what the film has going for it are two main elements- Dreyer and Joan of Arc cinematographer Rudolph Mate. Despite the film, when being viewed today on video and DVD, having a low-quality transfer with specks and scratches and all, nearly every image and camera move is perfect. For this kind of film, Dreyer takes an approach that lends the story and characters to another plane- these are people caught in the grip of a force that only has one purpose, to kill in a controlled state. Certain scenes are like terrifying little masterpieces of gothic torture- the droplets of blood falling onto the ground from the bed; the coffin point of view of the world; the close-ups; the way Dreyer moves around the chateau and outside; the creepy, somehow appropriate over/under exposure of shots. Overall, this is definitely a horror film with a an artist that doesn't sell himself short of the goods in his arsenal.

Vampyr is recommendable, if for nothing else (however the story seems like it would be easier to figure out on a repeat viewing, it would lessen the effect it leaves the first time), for the sheer vision. Although it has dated, Dreyer's take on the myths and terror of a group of citizens held in the grip of a vampire's grip is a technical landmark, and one of the early essentials alongside Nosferatu and Dracula. The dreadful score by Zeller is a good touch as well. A

34 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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