Vampyr (1932) dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer
Remember when vampires used to be scary?
Vampires have been re-invented so many, many times over that having a non-traditional vampire has become its own trope. As TV Tropes points out, there’s even a trope about how vampires constantly give speeches about how they’re different than Bela Lugosi’s vampire. (more examples here)
I’ve seen some good vampire films that didn’t follow the classic formula — Let the Right One In (2008), for example — but most of the time writers end up turning vampires into little more than X-Men.
Vampires are no longer soul-sucking demons, but just regular people with a strange genetic mutation. Which is much, much less scary.
Dreyer’s Vampyr comes from the good old days — 1932 — and is based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, from 1872. The plot is a little hazy, and the real fear comes from the atmosphere. The sounds and the cuts and the washed out lights. What is Allan Gray seeing? Who is that creepy man? Is the pale woman already past saving?
In some ways, Vampyr is most suitable for background at a haunted house or Halloween party. It’s not necessarily a popcorn sit-and-watch movie like Dracula.
But if I have to hear once more about how vampires aren’t really afraid of crosses…
Vampyr is #190 on the 2012 edition of the TSPDT 1,000 list I’m blogging through. I’ve now seen 446.