I just saw Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr. It is, of course, a classic film, and its director is to be complimented for establishing many of the tenets of the horror genre even before the invention of pacing, plot, or night. Luckily, movie-star good looks had been discovered just a year or two previously, and so we are treated to scenes of an extremely attractive young actor wandering about on a brightly lit set, interrupted by the occasional ominous, overwritten title board. In no particular order, he imagines himself dead in a coffin with a window conveniently cut in it for easy viewing; encounters an equally attractive actress who engages him in a battle to see who can open their eyes more widely; and passes out at various critical junctures, allowing an old man with a funny hat to kill the vampire and generally do most of the heavy lifting. Other high points are when the actress mews like a cat (as the result of sound limitations, apparently, not supernatural forces, and a close up of the mouth of a girl turning into a vampire so that we can see that fangs had not yet been invented either. Anyway, eventually the leads take a boat onto a lake, in the fog. The end.

There are good bits — the use of sentient shadows is creepy, and the coffin sequence is effective. But, jeez, the thing is just interminable. I’ve seen some episodes of the TV show “Dark Shadows”, which is paced in a similarly paralytic fashion, but at least there the melodramatic tropes are vaguely coherent — just slow as sludge, which actually comes off as funny. Vampyr is more fractured and pretentious than that, and really kind of intolerable…just watching the DVD counter as the minutes ticked down to the conclusion. Oh well…I guess the tedium is the way I can tell its culture.

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