Greetings Groovy Ghoulies! Over the years, I have had the pleasure watching American, British, and Japanese horror and sci-fi films. They are the basis for the love of the genre that I have today. The great Universal classics, Hammer Horror, and Toho fueled a lifetime of imignation for me. So, It’s really nice when I get a chance to see some films from the other region of the worlds. I have briefly seen some Italian horror and Mexican horror. I look forward to seeing more! I am like a sponge, sucking everything up in my way! Or am I more of a Blob? Hmmm, will have to look into that. We head to 1932 Europe for today’s review. ‘Vampyr’! Is it a classic or should it be passed?
Vampyr is a french film done by a Danish director, Carl Theodore Dreyer. The cast was made up of mostly unknowns and few of them were actual actors. It is a very cerebral picture, and has a very dream-like state to much of it. The release I saw was grainy in spots, which I thought added to the atmosphere of the film. It is a very early sound film, and it plays like a silent film. Place cards between scenes, and not alot of dialogue. Thank God for subtitles when needed!
The story is that of Allan Grey, played by Nicholas De Gunzburg under the alias Julian West. Nicholas also funded the film. Allan stays at an inn, and that night, in a creepy sequence, is visited by an old man whotells Allan to not let them kill “her”. Who is it he’s referring to? Allan doesn’t know either. The man leaves a box on the table, which is to opened if he is killed. Allen goes walking through the moonlight after that. There are some really nice outdoor shoots. All of the movie was shot on location, and it gives it that much moreof a realistic feel than some of the bigger budget films of the time. He sees shadows digging graves, dancing to music that is not there, and even the shadow of a soldier returning to himself. And we meet the old lady vampire; she’s creepy! The old man is killed by the shadow of the soldier, and we learn he has two daughters. Leone, who is the victim of the vampire and Gisele, her younger sister. Allan opens the box, and discovers a book on vampires and how to kill them. We soon meet the village doctor, and I didn’t trust him from the start. Soon, Allan is off in a dreamlike state, searching for a way to stop the vampire. Will he, or does he meet the same fate as Gisele and Leone’s father?
I enjoyed this film, I love the early feel of it. The American films of this same time seem…polished. This film seems more raw, and experimental. There are many cool camera tricks here, and I wonder if we are seeing them onscreen for the first time. The locations that are picked, suit the film nicely. Abandoned buildings and an old flour mill are some of the creepier locations. This was a nice introduction to the rest of European horror, and I look forward to watching how the genre developed over there.
Everyone knows I am a huge comic book fan. And as a young kid, I liked horror comics. Unfortunately, they were tougher to come by. The grocery stores and newsstands carried the big superhero comics. I had to rely on flea markets and garage sales to find any horror comics. I never had any issues of this series but, on some recent travels, I purchased the DC Essential book reprinting the first ten issues of, “Secrets of The Sinister House”. Apparently, there were 18 issues printed. It started out in 1972 as “The Sinister House of Secret Love”. It lasted under that title for 4 issues. These tales were gothic romance tales, and I couldn’t help but think of Dark Shadows when reading some of them. I really enjoyed the first set of issues. With issue 5, it changed to the other title, and became more of a horror anthology in the same vein as Tales From The Crypt. There were vampires, werewolves, ghosts…all kinds of creatures turned up. It is a really fun read, and worth tracking down!
Remember Ed D’s Monsters & Memories and The Fright Channel are on Facebook! Look us up and say “Hi!”. We only bite if we haven’t been fed in a while. Also, http://www.horrorhaven.com is a great place to read up on the horror scene and Boston horror memories. It’s the home of the Fright Channel with all new programming coming soon. Uncle Death will be hosting the Monster Movie Matinee soon! Until next time Ghoulies, keep watching the skies!