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Carl Theodore Dryer

With Vampyr, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s brilliance at achieving mesmerizing atmosphere and austere, profoundly unsettling imagery (The Passion of Joan of Arc and Day of Wrath) was for once applied to the horror genre. Yet the result—concerning an occult student assailed by various supernatural haunts and local evildoers in a village outside Paris—is nearly unclassifiable, a host of stunning camera and editing tricks and densely layered sounds creating a mood of dreamlike terror. With its roiling fogs, ominous scythes, and foreboding echoes, Vampyr is one of cinema’s great nightmares.

“In cinema, the possibility of horror is more unnerving than its actualization, particularly if a filmmaker is able to dramatize the precise moment when the banal becomes uncanny. In 1932’s Vampyr, Carl Theodor Dreyer draws such a transition out, in ebbs and flows, over the course of the film’s running time. Adverse to makeup and other overtly specialized effects, Dreyer often forces us to scrutinize an image for its subtle notes of wrongness.” – Slant

“Dreyer takes what so many others have played for cheap horror and crafts a deeply unsettling cinematic nightmare. Vampyr operates on its own strange logic, and uses every trick in the book to keep its audience constantly off balance. Eight decades later, it’s as haunting as ever, with only a handful of other films (Hour of the Wolf, Dementia, Begotten) even approaching its ghastly power.” – The L Magazine

“An ambiguous, cryptic, and at times mind-boggling hybrid of German Expressionist motifs and early horror film conventions, this eccentric film offers an original, and many would say unique cinematic perspective on the psychology of terror and the elusiveness of clarity, both existential and empirical.” – Catherine S. Cox,  Senses of Cinema


  • 10/6 | 8:00PM
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