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90 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Careful Before Deploring the Print Quality Here
I can't improve on the fine reviews of the movie itself, but there are two major factors connected with the making of the film that may have been overlooked.
If by "poor quality," the reference is to the washed out, somewhat spotty look of the print, please be aware that this was deliberate. Cinematographer Matté had accidently opened a can of...
Published on July 20, 2000 by Jack Rice

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102 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor transfer to DVD
This is a great film, one of the most spectral and haunting of all vampire movies. Admittedly, the available prints have been spotty at best. There was a restoration back in the late '60 that took the best footage from a German print and an English language dub print. Truly that effort did justice to Rudolph Matte's imaginative photography. Sadly, this is not that...
Published on January 6, 2000 by Dennis N. Raymond


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90 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Careful Before Deploring the Print Quality Here, July 20, 2000
By 
Jack Rice (California, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Vampyr (DVD)
I can't improve on the fine reviews of the movie itself, but there are two major factors connected with the making of the film that may have been overlooked.
If by "poor quality," the reference is to the washed out, somewhat spotty look of the print, please be aware that this was deliberate. Cinematographer Matté had accidently opened a can of exposed film, and when Dreyer saw the result, he was delighted. It was just the effect he had been looking for.
This film was originally shot as a silent. It was only later half-dubbed with voice-overs. Again, however, like the fortuitous "damage" to the print, the sparse and somewhat vague, even incoherent, dialogue contributes to the sense of dislocation which, I believe, is one of the great virtues of this genre masterpiece.
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Transfer - Annoying Subtitles, March 26, 2001
By 
kip garth (Central Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Vampyr (DVD)
Another release from the same folks who produced "Nosferatu" (Film Preservation Assosiates/Blackhawk Films). Excellent print transfer to DVD (and VHS)! I have seen several versions of VAMPYR and this DVD (and VHS version) are by far the best available. Much of VAMPYRS' "poor production" IS intentional, so consider this fact when reading other comments regarding print quality. This is about as good as it's gonna get! BUT I'd like to know who in the F.P.A. is responsible for allowing the atrocious subtitles (same is true for NOSFERATU)????!!! They should be taken out and covered in flour or fully exposed to the sun on a hot summer day! The gothic fonts are not easy to read and Dryer is Danish NOT German! The original (and very cool) opening titles have been replaced with a psuedo aged effect that is not necessary and in some scenes, the subtitles are really huge and also not necessary. What were they thinking??? Obviously, not much! Hey guys, leave the cutesy stuff for another day and just give up the facts! So for you, dear reader: if you can forgive them for annoying subtitles, then this version is well worth the investment!
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102 of 113 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor transfer to DVD, January 6, 2000
This review is from: Vampyr (DVD)
This is a great film, one of the most spectral and haunting of all vampire movies. Admittedly, the available prints have been spotty at best. There was a restoration back in the late '60 that took the best footage from a German print and an English language dub print. Truly that effort did justice to Rudolph Matte's imaginative photography. Sadly, this is not that print. By far it's the worst transfer to DVD I've seen yet. The subtitles take up the lower half of the image, and they are gothic German letters on a black masked background! Who's guilty for that? It's become clear that old classics like this are getting rushed into release with little regard for quality, so buyer beware. With a hack job like this out in the market it'll be a long time (if ever) till we see a beautifully restored version of Carl Dreyer's masterpiece on DVD. If you're looking for quality check out Criterion's release of Dreyer's "Passion of Joan of Arc". It's a model of what can be accomplished on the restoration of an old film. With Richard Einhorn's score "The Passion of Joan of Arc" is as fresh and alive as any movie currently in theaters.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric Horror At Its Best., August 5, 2008
By 
Chip Kaufmann (Asheville, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vampyr (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Carl Theodor Dreyer's VAMPYR has long been one of my favorite early horror films but until just a few years ago it was impossible to see it in a decent print. The old Image DVD had the best picture quality but was marred by black box subtitles in Gothic script. Still it was the best there was until now. This new Criterion transfer is not only the best so far it will probably be the best from now on as I can't see anyone else wanting to redo it. It's not everyone's idea of a horror film especially today when poetry and atmosphere are not high on the list of priorities for most horror movies (or most movies in general). The film was not a success in 1932 causing the director to abandon filmmaking for 11 years although it quickly developed a cult following.

The scenario inspired by Irish Huguenot writer Sheridan Le Fanu's novella CARMILLA and influenced by F.W. Murnau's NOSFERATU is probably the closest cinematic equivalent of a dream captured on film. It certainly influenced Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST which was 14 years later. The film is actually more of a nightmare as it follows a young protagonist through village inns and country estates on the trail of a female vampire who against conventional tradition is old and wizened rather than young and beautiful. Strange things happen. Shadows have a life of their own, the hero watches himself from above as he is buried alive, and it contains one of the strangest death scenes ever filmed which was borrowed from D.W. Griffith's A CORNER IN WHEAT. The entire film was designed to be pale with lots of fog and scenes shot through gauze over the camera lens. It was photographed by Rudolph Mate' who had done Dreyer's previous film THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC. Once seen it cannot be forgotten. Like most vivid dreams you remember it whether you want to or not.

This new transfer of the German version (there were French and English ones as well) looks as good as any restoration I have ever seen and the cleaning up of Wolfgang Zeller's music score, so essential to the overall mood, is nothing less than astonishing. Like most Criterion releases it comes with a plethora of extras including the original shooting script and a complete copy of Le Fanu's story CARMILLA so that you can see how much they varied from it. There is alao a second disc containing deleted scenes, a detailed analysis of the film and a radio interview with the director. Yes it's expensive and no it's not for everyone but if you appreciate cinema as poetry and are seduced by black and white images than this is the movie for you. Be advised though that Dreyer shot this film as a silent and added the music and effects later. There is less than 10 minutes worth of dialogue overall and no one says more than a few words each time they speak.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vital contribution to early film., March 12, 2000
This review is from: Vampyr [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film is truly outstanding. It's possible to even go so far as to call 'Vampyr' the last in the line of German cinema expressionist movies; evidence to suggest the influences of 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' and 'Nosferatu' certainly abounds throughout.
First things first; the film has no tangible plot to follow except that the storyline is loosely strung on a young man's attempt to fight vampirism in a small (Danish?) town. While the lack of plot sounds bad in the abstract, there is so much strength in the movie's other attributes that the issue of story structure soon fades in the viewer's mind. Imagery provides 'Vampyr' with its rasion d'etre. One haunting, shadowy image segues into the next to make for a horror experience that's far subtler than what Universal Studios was starting to crank out at the time of this film's release. Director Carl Dreyer apparently shot some of the scenes through gauze to enhance the ghost-like wispiness of the sequences.
The effect is utterly magical. Combine that with kinks like reverse filming (man 'digging' the grave), an eerie cello/clarinet-led score as well as a virtually absent dialogue and you've got a film that addresses horror on a high level.
It's important to understand this as you watch, although the scenes are consistently textured enough to remind you that you're trapped in a black and white nightmare experience for the entire duration of the picture. The film seems to become more ethereal every minute and by the time the vampiric crone is done away with, the viewer has been through too harrowing an affair to be able to see how a semi-happy ending can make those feelings of disquiet ebb away. It must be said that it took guts to produce this film. 'Vampyr' breaks many conventions, including its [by then] out of fashion clinging to the techniques and dogma of silent cinema when everyone else was rushing forward to flourish in the new glory of sound. But Dreyer's film is also revolutionary against the conventions of film-making in general. Even Weine's 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' didn't dare to be so progressive as to do away with a storyline (its one is very complex, in fact). What results is a work as bizarre in form as Dali's 'Un Chien Andalou' and yet coherent and accessible through its ability to convey fear in a language higher than the banal or everyday.
Thankfully, the print was transferred extremely well onto videotape by Timeless Video. It's just unfortunate that the DVD has apparently failed so miserably in that department. Old films need to be treated with a great deal more respect by DVD and video companies. 'Metropolis' has suffered just as badly if not more at the hands of insensitive corporate butchery. It's just too bad that there aren't many video companies headed by people who genuinely care about the nature of their bread and butter. The consequences are very sad indeed: these are classic movies, not toys. Put it this way; would you just pick up a 70 year-old pensioner and throw him any old way onto a......... .........maybe that's a bad analogy but you get the idea. Hopefully, so will they.
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67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best vampire movies ever gets the Criterion treatment. (Criterion features below) The Book Included is Over 200pages, April 23, 2008
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This review is from: Vampyr (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Director Carl Th. Dreyer's ( The Passion of Joan of Arc (Criterion Collection Spine #62)) 1932 film Vampyr is as relevant a silent film (even though there is some talking) as the recent movie Once is a musical. Meaning, in Once when they bust out into song, they're actually musicians so it makes sense and when there are words on the screen in Vampyr it's because a book about vampires is being read. It works. The film plays like a black and white photograph come to life. It is filled with eerie dreamlike atmosphere and scares that hold up even now. This possibly could be the scariest vampire film rivaling Nosferatu, notably the part when one of the daughters goes from terrified about losing her sole to an evil smile. Even though it is made a decade after F.W. Murnau's classic Nosferatu (The Ultimate Two-Disc Edition) and one year after Browning's Dracula (75th Anniversary Edition) (Universal Legacy Series) this could still be the first movie about vampires.
In Nosferatu and Dracula the story tells of a specific vampire and in Vampyr it is about vampires in general. Vampires here are shadows we see not a guy without a shadow (very effective and eerie). They are people who have done wrong while living and are not at rest. They are companions of Satan and have minions working for them that could look like anyone. You can see how many countless vampire movies this has influenced, none of which come close to this masterpiece. I found the concept of the ending reminded me of Guillermo Del Toro's great Pan's Labyrinth [Blu-ray] but I won't go into detail.
If your familiar with Criterion or any of their horror releases this should be great and the original dvd could use improving. I've listed the Criterion features below from their website. Another reviewer did the same but I usually like to include features in my reviews as well.

CRITERION DVD FEATURES (DIRECTLY OFF CRITERIONCO'S WEBSITE)
Special Features

* - SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES:
* - New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the 1998 film restoration by Martin Koerber and the Cineteca di Bologna
* - Optional all-new English-text version of the film
* - Audio commentary featuring film scholar Tony Rayns
* - Carl Th. Dreyer (1966), a documentary by Jörgen Roos chronicling Dreyer's career
* - Visual essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer's influences in creating Vampyr
* - A 1958 radio broadcast of Dreyer reading an essay about filmmaking
* - New and improved English subtitle translation
* - PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by Mark Le Fanu and Kim Newman, Martin Koerber on the restoration, and an archival interview with producer and star Nicolas de Gunzburg, as well as a book featuring Dreyer and Christen Jul's original screenplay and Sheridan Le Fanu 1871 story "Carmilla," a source for the film

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Film Info
1932
75 minutes
Black & White
1.19:1
Dolby Digital Mono 1.0
Not Anamorphic
German
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great horror films, March 10, 1999
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This review is from: Vampyr (DVD)
Directed in France by the legendary Danish director Carl Dreyer,Vampyr is not only one of the best horror films but also probably one of the greatest films ever made. Unlike the American horror pictures like Frankenstein that were being made at the same time, Vampyr has relatively little action but a sustained atmosphere of strangeness like that of few other movies. The action takes place during one night and the entire film has a slow, trance-like quality. The picture quality of the DVD is vastly superior to that of the older videotapes--the film was photographed by the great Rudolph Mate--but the sound recording is shaky at the best, and the dialogue is hard to follow even for someone who understands German. The music comes across more effectively but is boomy in some passages--it's a good idea to reduce the bass before viewing. The DVD like an earlier video has quite large subtitles in Gothic type--designed I think to eliminate Danish subtitles--which unfortunately mask a third or so of the picture in some shots.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is why DVD's were created, July 24, 2008
By 
A. Gammill (Tupelo, MS United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vampyr (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Just when I think Criterion has forgotten us fans of horror & sci-fi, here they come with this incredible deluxe treatment of one of the all-time greats. Carl Dreyer's VAMPYR may have been overshadowed by Murnau's NOSFERATU and Tod Browning's DRACULA (and rightfully so, in many ways), but it's still one of the greatest examples of film-as-nightmare ever made.

For those who may have missed it, VAMPYR loosely (VERY loosely...more on that in a minute) adapts the Victorian-era horror tale "Carmilla," which featured a pair of scheming female vampires. But the film only uses bits of the novella to flesh-out its nightmare vision. The film's minimal plot concerns a man, Alan Gray, who is studying the occult. In a village outside of Paris, he stumbles upon a mystery steeped in the supernatural. A host of increasingly bizarre images assail Gray (and the viewer), culminating in one of the most memorable nightmare sequences ever put on film.

VAMPYR, especially for the first-time viewer, can be a difficult film to embrace. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, and when it does occur, is often puzzling. The narrative is disjointed, resulting in sometimes abrupt cuts and images which don't seem to fit. Most disconcerting is a shot of a gravedigger which has been reversed, or the shadow of a solider which seeks to rejoin its host. All these scenes and many more give the film its nightmare logic, which is all the more memorable for what it DOESN'T show.

For all their technical wizardry, I've almost always found Criterion Collection discs left me wanting more in the way of supplemental materials. Well, with VAMPYR. . .all is forgiven! Disc 2 offers a fascinating "visual essay" which recounts director Carl Dreyer's influences that helped shaped the film. There's also a 1966 documentary on Dreyer himself, covering his first silent films up to his final effort in 1964. There's some great archival footage of Francois Truffaut and others offering their insight into the director and his films. Back on Disc 1, you'll find a rather droll audio commentary by British film scholar Tony Rayns. While his observations do occasionally help make some of Dreyer's creative intentions more clear, Rayns spends too much time engaged in idle speculation over such trivia as the proper pronunciation of "Carmilla" author Sheridan Le Fanu's name.

As if that wasn't enough, VAMPYR also includes a nice full-sized book that contains not only the original screenplay, but the entire text of "Carmilla." Reading them back-to-back, one can easily see how Dreyer was influenced but not really guided by the original story. Lastly, a booklet includes additional essays about the film and its resoration.

Simply put, anyone interested in classic horror, or the history of early sound films MUST have this terrific set in their collection. Criterion is to be commended for pulling out all the stops and crafting what I'm sure will prove to be a treasured archive of an often-overlooked piece of film history.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poetry While Paint Dries, August 26, 2008
This review is from: Vampyr (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Danish film maker Carl Dryer (1889-1968) is considered among Europe's finest directors, the creator of innovative 1928 THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC and the legendary VAMPYR--but some cinematic legends are best left recalled instead of revisited, and such is the case with the latter film. Produced in 1930, released in 1932, and very loosely based on the novella CARMILLA by Sheridan LeFanu, VAMPYR does indeed have moments of great poety, but on the whole the film is akin to watching paint dry.

The plot of VAMPYR is trivial, the tale of a young man who stumbles into a mysterious estate where one of two sisters is under vampiric attack. The appeal of the film is actually in Dyer's truly remarkable cinematic ideas, ideas that are often described as surrealistic in execution. Shadows move independently of those who cast them--or exist without any source at all. Fog and mist drift strangely through the landscapes. A skull moves of its own accord. And most spectacularly, the young man experiences an out-of-body vision in which he foresees that he himself will fall prey to the vampire unless he can destroy it.

These moments are memorable indeed and there is no doubt the film is visually stunning. Unfortunately, it is also very, very, very slow. In theory, this slowness exists to intensify the poetry of the images and a crawling sense of horror; in actual fact, however, I found it simply slow, and that the extremely languid pace undercut both poetry and horror to a very significant degree. Fans of the film--and it has many--will no doubt curse me as a Philistine and declare VAMPYR is too fine to be appreciated by the likes of me.

As in most instances, the Criterion Collection edition offers a group of interesting bonuses. It is worth noting, however, that the film itself is not in pristine condition (it never has been); even so, this is easily the best print in circulation. Recommended for hardcore cinephiles, but most others should give it a miss.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great movie--butchered DVD version, April 7, 2002
This review is from: Vampyr (DVD)
I suppose if this is the only way we can see Vampyr, it is better than nothing. But just barely. First of all, there are no DVD menu of features at all, just chapter selections. So you can't choose to see the silent version but are stuck with dubbed German (unless you want to turn the sound on your t.v. off) and English subtitles. And the subtitles have been atrociously done. They appear with a black background behind them, which often blocks out a third of the image or more, and they are written in large Gothic script. How stupid! Moreover, the subtitles are not even done consistently. If you turn the sound on your t.v. off, you miss a lot of the dialogue. And unless you know German, you will not be able to understand it. Additionally, when we cut to the main character reading to see what he is reading, instead of putting the subtitles on top of the original image from the film, the original film image is cut out completely and replaced with newly added footage of Gothic script alone. The effect is totally hideous, as far as I am concerned. Clearly, a moron was in charge of DVD production here.
As far as the DVD image quality goes, the film print used here has not been restored, so there are frequent white blotches and scratches.
Vampyr completely deserves the full restoration, menu of options, and extras films like The Third Man have justly received. It is an absolute shame such a great film has been so shoddily released on DVD. (I assume the VHS is no better.)
I hope that we see better soon.
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Vampyr (The Criterion Collection)
Vampyr (The Criterion Collection) by Carl Theodor Dreyer (DVD - 2008)
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