This restoration of Car Dreyer's classic 1932 film is the best and most complete version of the film I have ever seen. The restoration is based on the German version of the film and the inter titles are in that language (although, of course, translation sub-titles are provided). Made in France by Danish director Carl Dreyer the film is based on Irish writer Joseph Sheridan LeFanu's book In a Glass Darkly and it is usually accepted that it is a loose adaption of the story Carmilla, although there is little in the plot besides a vampire that resembles anything in that tale. The film is really unlike anything else in the history of horror movies, although if you are familiar with classic horror films a viewing will convince you just how influential Dreyer's imagery has been. The plot is fairly simple (although perhaps not at first viewing) - Julian West, a traveller versed in the occult, stays at an inn where an old man asks his help in protecting his family from a vampire. The vampire is an old lady who is assisted by the town doctor (who looks remarkably - and I'm sure not accidentally - like Jack McGowran in Polanski's FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS). It is in the telling that VAMPYR is so remarkable and truly unsettling.
The hero, Allan Gray (who in some versions is called David Gray) finds himself in a dream-like world where the ordinary becomes weird (ie. the old man entering the bedroom) and the weird becomes almost matter-of-fact : shadows detach themselves, shadows appear where there is no one to cast them, a grave digger is filling an empty grave. Although shot with sound this is very much in the tradition of the silent film - it is a film where the modern viewer must make a mental adjustment before watching. The Eureka release has some nice extras - including two commentaries, the best by critic Tony Rayns and an irritating one by Guillermo del Toro who obviously loves the film but repeats himself to often. There is an informative booklet, a visual essay on the film's visual influence, a documentary on Carl Dreyer, two scenes cut by the German censor and more. Absolutely one for the collection. Rating *****