Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Running time: 75 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): N/A
Germany Release date: 6th May 1932
Watched on Sky+ Wednesday 2nd November 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
As it is the season of all things horror, I thought I’d throw in a couple of horror movies this week. We start with a very old classic; a German film from 1932 which has touches of sheer brilliance. There are also things about it that aren’t so good, but more about that after this very brief summary.
Allan Grey is travelling the countryside when he stops at a small country inn. There he sees some very strange sights; shadows that move without anybody to cast them, a strange man that visits him in the middle of the night and leaves a package marked “To be opened on my death”. He follows the man to a small castle where he discovers he is the Lord of the Manor. He has two daughters, Gisèle and Léone. Léone is very sick and has a strange bite mark on her neck. After the Lord is killed (in circumstances I won’t go into here… but they are very strange), Allan opens the package he found earlier. It contains a book that details all that is known about vampyrs! I will leave it there so as not to enrage the Spoiler Police (Undead Division).
I have already mentioned that this film has hints of brilliance about it, the shadow scenes in particular are really great to watch. The acting is all pretty good to, everyone did a decent job; Julian West as Allan Grey, Maurice Schutz as Der Schlossherr (Lord of the Manor), Rena Mandel as Gisèle, Sybille Schmitz as Léone, Jan Hieronimko as Der Dorfartz - Village Doctor, Henriette Gérard as Die alte Frau von Friedhof - The Woman from the Cemetery und (sorry, and) Albert Bras as Der alte Diener - Old Servant.
I guess there are two things that prevent me giving this film a higher score, first is the quality of the print. I know there is very little that can be done about it now, but I believe a better quality print could have made a large difference to the enjoyment of this old classic. The second thing that (I felt) let it down was a rather confused beginning. Now, I know that the version I saw was cobbled together from various sources and there may have been bits missing, but I did find the beginning of the film very confusing. Having said that, I did very much enjoy it (once it got going) and would definitely recommend it to any fan of the genre… or any fan of film in general for that matter. With some great imagery, I’m sure it’s one that you will come back to again and again.
My Score: 7.9/10.
IMDb Score: 7.6/10 (based on 4,897 votes at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100/100 (based on 25 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
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Trailer: More a clip than a trailer, but please note I did see a version with sound… This clip gives the impression it’s a silent film, which is not the case.