Tuesday, October 13, 2009


If you need proof of just how bleak a place Central Europe was between the World Wars, just take a look at some of their cinema. In 1930, director Fritz Lang brought a completely creepy Peter Lorre to the big screen in M, in which he plays a child murderer. A few years earlier, the first 'Dracula' movie had been filmed. Titled Nosferatu, the film starred Max Schreck in a powerful performance as the blood-sucking Count Orlock. In fact, Schreck's role and his off-screen behavior are so legendary that a loose bio-pic was made a few years ago, starring Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire).
We've just added yet another atmosphere-heavy Gothic horror film to our collection. Vampyr, filmed in 1932, showcases Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer's brilliant use of shadows, fogs and camera tricks to create a sense of the eerie. The film is a vampire tale that is based on a 1872 short story by the Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu ("Carmilla"). This special DVD edition from the Criterion Collection folk features a nicely restored original German film, an alternate version with English text, a 1966 documentary that looks at the career of director Dryer, and some additional information.
Best of all, it comes with a copy of "Carmilla". You can read the story upon which the film was based and decide yourself whether Dreyer's pared-down version is a chilling adaptation true to the tone of the story, or if Dreyer's film should almost be considered a work of its own. Either way, this is the perfect movie to watch during October.

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