Vampyr, ou l’etrange aventure de David Gray (1932)

France, 1931
65m (Germany – theatrical), 75m
35mm film, black and white
mono, German, French and English versions

A French horror film directed by Carl Theodore Dreyer. The film was financed by French socialite and banker the Baron Nicholas de Gunzberg who took the lead role under the pseudonym Julian West. As it was Dreyer's first sound film and as he was expected to film it in three languages (French, German and English) he opted to keep dialogue to a minimum and relied on silent film style inter-titles to tell the story. After a lukewarm reception on its initial German release, Dreyer re-edited the film and it was somewhat better received when released in France but it's only been in more recent years that the film has started to receive positive critical attention.

Plot Summary

David Gray arrives at a remote castle where strange, dreamlike events start taking place – shadows move around on their own, a mysterious figure stalks the landscape and Gray suffers a dream of being buried alive. When one of the daughters of the castle's owner starts displaying symptoms of anaemia, it seems that a vampire might be at large.

Credits

Crew
Director: Carl Th. Dreyer
A film by Carl Th. Dreyer Film Produktion
Script: Christen Jul and Carl Th. Dreyer
Freely based on the novel In a Glass Darkly by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Danish Adaptation: Henrik V. Ringsted [Danish prints]
Supplemental Narrative: Randall M. White [English language version]
Director of Photography: Rudolf Maté
Music: Wolfgang Zeller
Sound Mixer: Dr Hans Bittmann
Dialogue Director and Sound Editor: Paul Falkenberg
Sound Recording: Tobis-Klangfilm, Afifa Tonkopie
Artistic Adviser: Hermann Warm

Cast
Julian West [real name: Baron Nicholas de Gunzberg] (David Gray (Allan Gray in German version))
Maurice Schulz (the father)
Rena Mandel (Giséle)
Sybille Schmitz (Léone, their daughter)
Jan Heronimko (the village doctor)
Henriette Gerard (the old woman in the graveyard)
Albert Bras (the old servant)
N. Babanini (his wife)
Jane Mora (the nurse)

Alternative Titles

Castle of Doom – English language version title

Extracts included in
Carl Th. Dreyer (1966)
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1943)
Vem var Dracula? (1975)
Vincent Price's Dracula (1982)

References

Periodicals

  • L'Avant-Scène du Cinéma no.228 (May 1979) pp.33; 33-34; 35-63 (France) – credits; review; script
  • Bianco e Nero vol.19 no.5 (May 1958) pp.1-32 (Italy) – article
  • Camera Magazin no.3 (March 2001) pp.29-38 (Germany) – illustrated article (Das Gehimnis von Courtempierre by Wolfgang Fischer)
  • Cineforum no.12 (February 1962) p.133 (Italy) – article
  • Cinemages vol.1 no.4 (1955) pp.16, 20 – article
  • Close-up vol.8 no.1 (March 1931) p.50 – review
  • L'Eco del Cinema vol.4 no.47 (30 April 1953) p.2 (Italy) – article
  • Film Comment vol.44 no.4 (July/August 2008) pp.76 – illustrated DVD review (Canonical pick: Vampyr by David Zuckerman)
  • Films and Filming vol.7 no.3 (December 1960) p.17 – article
  • Film Culture no.35 (Winter 1964/1965) pp.1; 5; 57 – articles
  • Film Quarterly vol.62 no.4 (Summer 2009) pp.56-62 – DVD review (Un film vampirisé: Dreyer's Vampyr by Peter Swaab)
  • Film Studies no.5 (Winter 2004) pp.30-38 – illustrated article (Fulci's Waste Land: Cinema, Horror and the Abominations of Hell by Michael Grant)
  • Focus no.7 (Spring 1972) pp.2-3 – article
  • Metro no.119 (1999) pp.100 (Australia) – illustrated review (Annotations on film by Michael Koller)
  • Midnight Marquee no.49 pp.5-10 – illustrated article
  • Midi-Minuit Fantastique no.20 (1968) pp.68 (France) – article
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.43 no.511 (August 1976) p.180 – credits, review
  • Screen vol.17 no.3 (Autumn 1976) pp.29-67 – review
  • Shock Xpress no.4 (May-June 1986) p.8-9, 16 – illustrated article (Alone in the Pacific with my 10 best films by Ramsey Campbell)
  • Sight & Sound vol.3 no.6 (June 1993) pp.70 – video review
  • Sight & Sound vol.34 no.4 (Autumn 1965) p.172 – review
  • Sight & Sound vol.3 no.7 (July 1993) pp.31 – article (The Wonderful Face by Leslie Megahey)
  • Sight & Sound vol.18 no.9 (September 2008) pp.32-36 – illustrated article (Carl Dreyer [and] Waking life by Michael Brooke & Caspar Tybjerg)
  • Studies in European Cinema vol.5 no.3 (2008) pp.161-170 – article (The impossibility of vision: vampirism, formlessness and horror in Vampyr by Dr Alison Peirse)
  • Vertigo vol.2 no.9 (Autumn/Winter 2005) pp.17 – illustrated review (A body of work by David Rudkin)
  • Vertigo vol.4 no.1 (Winter 2008) pp.43 – illustrated DVD review (The life of a vampyr by David Rudkin)
  • Video Watchdog no.183 (May/June 2016) pp.33-34 – illustrated review (by John-Paul Checkett)

Books

  • After Dracula: The 1930s Horror Film by Alison Peirse pp.3, 10-11, 24, 81-100, 102, 125, 178, 197
  • Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror (2nd edition) by Phil Hardy (ed) pp.50-51 – illustrated credits, review
  • Censored Screams: The British Ban on Hollywood Horror in the Thirties by Tom Johnson p.38 – note
  • Cinematic by John L. Flynn pp.41-44
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.369
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.40-42, 45, 50, 71, 80, 83, 88, 127, 187, 196, 398
  • Golden Horrors: An Illustrated Critical Filmography, 1931-1939 by Bryan Sennp.68-81
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films III by Donald C. Willis p.293-295
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.199-200 – credits, review
  • The Illustrated Vampire Movie Guide by Stephen Jones p.21 – credits, review
  • by Walt Lee p.519 – credits
  • Top 100 Horror Movies by Gary Gerani p.99 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • The Vampire in Science Fiction Film and Literature by Paul Meehan pp.25, 116

Other sources

  • National Film Theatre Programmes (June 2003) pp.13 – credits, review