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Vampyr (1932)

Not Rated | | Fantasy, Horror | 14 August 1934 (USA)
A drifter obsessed with the supernatural stumbles upon an inn where a severely ill adolescent girl is slowly becoming a vampire.

Director:

Carl Theodor Dreyer (as Carl Th. Dreyer)

Writers:

Sheridan Le Fanu (based on a book by) (as J. Sheridan Le Fanu), Christen Jul (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Julian West ... Allan Grey
Maurice Schutz ... Der Schlossherr (The Lord of the Manor)
Rena Mandel ... Gisèle
Sybille Schmitz ... Léone
Jan Hieronimko ... Der Dorfartz (The Village Doctor)
Henriette Gérard ... Die alte Frau von Friedhof (The Old Woman from the Cemetery) (as Henriette Gérard)
Albert Bras Albert Bras ... Der alte Diener (The Old Servant)
N. Babanini N. Babanini ... Seine Frau (His Wife)
Jane Mora Jane Mora ... Die Krankenschwester (The Nurse)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Georges Boidin ... Limping Man
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Storyline

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 {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Fantasy | Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Germany | France

Language:

German

Release Date:

14 August 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Castle of Doom See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Tobis Filmkunst See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Tobis-Klangfilm)

Aspect Ratio:

1.19 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For much of the cast, this was there only film appearance since they were not professional actors. Henriette Gérard who played the vampire was a French widow, Jan Hieronimko who played the village doctor was a Polish journalist, Rena Mandel who played Gisèle was an artist's model. Even Julian West (real name: Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg) who played Allan Grey, was French-born member of Russian nobility who agreed to finance the film in exchange for the leading part. (He later emigrated to America where he became a powerful fashion journalist and mentor to designers like Calvin Klein.) See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Der Dorfartz (The Village Doctor): How is she doing?
Der alte Diener (The Old Servant): Not well at all.
Der Dorfartz (The Village Doctor): Oh? Why is that?
Der alte Diener (The Old Servant): We found her out on the grounds.
Der Dorfartz (The Village Doctor): Well, let's go see.
Der alte Diener (The Old Servant): She has another of those marks on her neck.
See more »

Connections

Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Girl Ghouls (1996) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Best vampire movie of the '30s
27 July 2010 | by mhesseliusSee all my reviews

Too often horror films are thought of as light-weight entertainment. Even the best are under-appreciated for what they can tell us about human nature. In the case of Carl Dreyer's "Vampyr," however, all you seem to hear is high-brow rhetoric about how the film's dream-like illogic makes it a meditation upon death. For just once forget all the intellectual mumbo-jumbo and watch this film for what it is, one creepy little flick and the pioneering vampire film of the '30s. It was in production a year before "Dracula" but released the year after, and is a better and scarier film, unless bats on strings scare you.

It's not a silent movie but feels like one - an exceptionally fine one. So if you are put off by non-talking films be warned, dialog is spare, cut to the bone; but the musical score is very good and sinister. The main attractions are the images: shadows that kill people, a spirit that leaves its body, a corpse-eye view of a burial, and other uncanny occurrences that lead young Allan Grey to a girl suffering from a mysterious illness, and to her doctor, a vampire's accomplice who supplies his crone-like patroness with fresh victims.

Possibly the film's poor reception by critics and audiences was because the 1930 soundtrack was too primitive to be appreciated by viewers in 1932, who by then were used to lots of chatter - and because the earlier release of "Dracula" blunted its impact. But with little dialog and without the stagnating influence of a stationary microphone our eyes feast on Hermann Warm's eerie art direction, and are guided by Rudolph Mate's camera, which keeps us off balance, misdirecting our point of view as when it pans to a door through which a nurse exits her patient's room, then pans back again to reveal an empty bed just before the victim's sleep-walking rendezvous with the vampire.

The film bears even less resemblance to its source (Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla") than "Dracula" does to Stoker's novel, possibly because it borrows from another story, Mary Elizabeth Braddon's "Good Lady Ducayne," in which a young man comes to the aid of a young paid female companion of an extremely aged woman whose doctor draws the young woman's blood for his patient to consume. And if "Vampyr's" plot often seems incoherent, so does "Dracula's." The performances, however, are vastly superior. Sybille Schmitz in particular, as the vampire's victim, conveys with her subtle expressions emotions for which spoken language is inadequate.

For those who already know this film, Martin Koerber's restoration on the Criterion release eliminates the large, black-bordered, Gothic subtitles, and corrects the too-bright day-for-night scenes that were so distracting on the Image disc. For others seeing "Vampyr" for the first time, relax, don't think too much, and enjoy!


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