Not content with bringing the familiar sadistic thrills of monsters and madmen, slashers and psychopaths, Team Relish have put together a Halloween countdown of a very different kind. For those fright fans looking for something more macabre to chew on, something to leave a lasting and unsettling impression, check out the final our list of alternative horror titles…
The well-groomed Allen Grey (Julian West) is an aimless dreamer preoccupied by tales of the supernatural. He wanders thusly, with what appears to be a fish net, to a secluded little inn. But trouble’s afoot.
And dig those crazy shadows!
Early in VAMPYR, Allen Grey receives a package from a weary looking man. The package says, “To be opened upon my death.” It appears that Grey has stumbled into a deadly mystery with nothing to help him puzzle out the details except that needless fish net.
The great Carl Theodor Dreyer co-wrote and directed this gorgeous black and white fantasy, and periodically you can see similarities with his groundbreaking The Passion of Joan of Arc. More often, though, you can see images and ideas born here that have been borrowed by David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Coppola (in his take on the vampire), and even Harrison Ford’s WITNESS, among others.
The painterly quality of Dreyer’s frames and the bizarre character behavior give the film a surreal atmosphere you can’t shake. Dreyer was working for the first time in sound, and the Danish director was working with a cast from (and preparing for premiers in) both France and Germany, so a language issue also plagued him. His decision to limit dialog to a minimum and craft the film with traditional silent film gimmicks benefitted the dreamscape atmosphere.
As Grey wanders through this picturesque nightmare realm, the film becomes almost drunk with weirdness. Dreyer captures the gorgeous terror of a dream more perfectly than any other filmmaker, in a movie that is never predictable, always a bit surreal and spooky.