Vampyr is a German expressionist film from 1932 which tells the tale of Allen Grey (Julian West), a drifter who finds himself in a house in the countryside where a young girl lies sick. His interest in the occult leads him to one conclusion. I’ll let you guess what that is…
Full of striking imagery and innovative visual trickery, Vampyr is highly atmospheric as we follow Allen on his dreamlike journey. A particular highlight is an out of body experience which still looks creepy today.
While technically a sound film, like The Jazz Singer it features minimal dialogue and sound effects, instead relying on the action, and text cards on the screen, to tell the story.
The screening we went to featured a live accompaniment of a contemporary re-score. This was the first time I’d seen a film with live accompaniment and it certainly adds to the sensory experience.
The haunting music added to the atmosphere, and the score was at its best in its more acoustic moments, particularly the piano elements and a haunting sequence of disparate bell rings. The inclusion of an electric guitar, albeit subtly done, took me a little out of the frame of mind required to watch a 90 year old film, but the music was certainly an impressive achievement.