Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vampyr (1932)

Hmmmm ...

Still not sure what to make of this one. An early 30's horror movie. That should be right in my wheel house. You'd think I wouldn't have to turn it off half way because it was putting me to sleep, but that's what happened. I finished it up the following night.

This is the story of Allan Gray, a young man obsessed with the occult, who happens on an Inn where he finds evidence of a Vampyr! First, in the middle of the night, some old dude saunters into his room and leaves a package with a note that it should be opened in the event of his death. Then he follows around shadows while they go and .... I don't know what they are doing. Eventually the old dude is shot by a shadow, a young woman becomes sick, and lots of surreal scenes are shot using primitive camera techniques.

This is not an easy movie to watch. Although it's not a silent film, it might as well have been. Most of the story is revealed in title cards using a hard to read gothic font and there is almost no dialog. Characters are introduced without explanation and the story line is convoluted at best.

Still, the movie has some merit. Very stylish and atmospheric, it scores high points for originality. The disembodied shadows running around was an interesting technique and the use of double exposures and backwards film may have been avant garde back then. But the pacing was tedious and the action non-existent. Thankfully it was only 72 minutes.

The movie could stand a second viewing, if for no other reason than to figure out what the hell was going on. I can't imagine seeing it again, unless I happen upon a fully restored showing at a film festival. The Netflix streaming copy is in need of some TLC. AMRU 3.

Before I end, take a look at the wikipedia entry for the movie. A lot went on with the making that I found interesting. Very low budget using non-actors, it was filmed for three languages and constantly re-edited. The cast stayed at the inn it was filmed in, which proved very uncomfortable. Oh, and the director ended up in a mental hospital. So it goes.

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