From Nosferatu to Thirst, films have tried to capture the shadowy, seductive figure of the vampire. Writer Anne Billson chronicles the creature’s evolution.
Slide Four: Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey (1932)
Vampyr, Carl Dreyer's loose adaptation of two stories from Sheridan LeFanu's In a Glass Darkly—“Carmilla” and “The Room in the Dragon Volant”—was conceived as a silent, and while sound was added during production, its trancelike visuals have more in common with Nosferatu than with Browning's Dracula. Dreyer shrugs off conventional linear narrative and plunges into the world evoked by that famous inter-title from Nosferatu, so beloved of the surrealists: "And when he crossed the bridge, the phantoms came to meet him.” If ever there were a film which exemplified the idea of dreaming with one's eyes open, it's this; the influence on vampire cinema is oblique but present in every subsequent image of floaty chiffon or misty graveyards which bypasses the brain and proceeds directly to the subconscious. An occult investigator called Allan Grey (David in the English version) is our guide to this realm of shifting shadows, which take on lives of their own, and off-kilter corridors which lead, in a roundabout way, to a chateau where an evil doctor is helping a vampire prey on the Lord of the Manor's two daughters. Grey dreams of being buried alive, and the evil doctor really does end up buried—in flour.