Today: July 15, 2024

Vampyr

Disconcerting, unnerving, difficult… Carl Th. Dreyer’s Vampyr is arguably one of early cinema’s most memorable and controversial horrors. Panned by the critics on its original release, the film has since been acknowledged as a cornerstone work of the horror genre. 

Adapting the stories of Sheridan Le Fanu, the dreamlike tale of an obsessed student’s visit to a small French village is a tour-de-force of supernatural phantasmagoria and creeping unease, delivered via audacious camera work and sound design.

Vampyr was to be Dreyer’s first talkie and he made the bold decision to release the film in three languages—using very little dialogue and title cards to move the narrative along. Over the years, various versions have been released—all incomplete and cobbled together from existing French or German versions.

Eureka’s brand new 2k restoration is the result of more than a decade of meticulous sourcing, scanning, and film restoration to create the highest quality and most accurate version of Vampyr ever released. Now on blu-ray, in time for the film’s 90th Anniversary, this is likely to be the definitive incarnation and as close to Dreyer’s original film as the passage of time allows.

Naturally, the film quality shows its years but Eureka’s restoration feels like finally finding an unabridged edition of a much-loved book. Having said that, Dreyer’s Vampyr won’t be everyones’ cup of tea. The film has a definite feel of ‘30s paranoia and desperation. That’s entirely appropriate for the material—but maybe not what we all need right now.

Vampyr is a disorientating, wild ride with none of the usual cozy classic horror moments you’d expect from a period piece. Its visuals are as striking as they are memorable. And while the pace is slow, and at times ponderous, Vampyr feels very modern in its ability to get under your skin and disturb your dreams.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Limited Edition Hardbound Slipcase (3000 copies).
  • All-new 2K digital restoration of the German version by the Danish Film Institute, completed in 2020 after an extensive decade-long restoration process, with uncompressed mono soundtrack
  • Optional unrestored audio track.
  • Two audio commentaries: one by critic and programmer Tony Rayns; the second by filmmaker and Vampyr fan Guillermo del Toro.
  • Visual essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer’s Vampyr influences.
  • New video interview with author and critic Kim Newman on Vampyr’s unique place within vampire cinema.
  • Two new video interviews with music and cultural historian David Huckvale on the film’s score and its adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu.
  • Carl Th. Dreyer (1966) – a documentary by Jörgen Roos.
  • Two deleted scenes, removed by the German censor in 1932.
  • The Baron – a short MoC documentary about Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg.
  • Optional English subtitles.
  • A 100-page book, featuring rare production stills, location photography, posters, the 1932 Danish film programme, a 1964 interview with Baron Nicolas de Gunzberg (producer and actor “Allan Gray”), an essay by Dreyer on film style, and writing by Tom Milne, Jean and Dale Drum, and film restorer Martin Koerber (3000 copies).

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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