Vampyr

A few weeks ago, I discovered a vampire film from the 1930s that I had never encountered before. Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, the movie Vampyr was filmed about the same time as Universal’s Dracula but was released about a year later. The film features an original script with elements inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s stories “Carmilla” and “The Room in the Dragon Volant” which appeared in the collection In a Glass Darkly.

Unlike other vampire films of the period, this doesn’t involve sinister castles in Eastern Europe. Instead, at its heart, the film feels a lot like some of Hammer Studio’s better vampire films from the 1960s. We meet a fellow named Allan Gray, ostensibly on a fishing trip in the French countryside, who stops at an inn. We learn at the beginning that Gray is interested in the occult and soon strange things happen. A man visits his room on his first night and leaves him a package, with the instructions that the package should not be opened unless the man dies. Gray then takes the package and follows ghostly shadows to a neighboring mill. A shadow of a rifleman seems to guide him to a point where the shadow then joins the corporeal rifleman who has been sitting in one place the whole time.

Gray ultimately leaves the mill and goes to a nearby manor house. Right as he arrives, the Lord of the manner drops over, as though dead. It appears that he’s killed by a gunshot from the shadowy rifleman, but that’s not all clear. He may easily have had a heart attack or a stroke or been harmed by some other supernatural force. At this point, the film takes on a more familiar vampire narrative flow, at least for a while. We learn that the lord’s older daughter, Léon has been preyed upon by a local vampire and she cannot be allowed to die, or she will turn into a vampire too. The lord’s younger daughter, Gisèle is also under threat of becoming a vampire. When the lord does succumb to the gunshot, or other injury, Gray discovers that his parcel is a book about vampires and how to deal with them. He teams up with the servants of the house to hunt the vampire.

Like Dracula, Vampyr is an early sound picture. The movie works to keep dialogue at a minimum and gives us a lot of information on narrative intertitle cards and on the pages of the vampire book. The movie also relies a lot on visual imagery to tell the story. I’ve already mentioned a little about shadows that become detached from their owners, but there are other odd elements, such as skulls that turn to face the room’s occupants and hints that we’re seeing what characters perceive rather than what they literally see. At one point, Allan himself seems to split into two spiritual forms. One form is left behind. The other form returns to the mill and finds both where the younger daughter is locked up and his own dead body in a coffin. He then becomes the dead body who is transported from the mill to the graveyard whereupon his spiritual selves reunite.

As a fan of vampire literature, one thing I love about this film is how it associates the vampires with ghosts and phantoms. The only other film I’ve seen that used is Nosferatu and even there, it’s only hinted at. I also liked the fact that the film’s “Master Vampire” appeared as an elderly woman who has men in her thrall. One of those men may also be a vampire, though it’s never entirely clear. I also love the experimental nature of this film. On Monday, I talked a little about “superhero fatigue” and really that’s a subset of seeing the same things over and over again in film. It’s nice to see a film dare to experiment with images and trust the audience to interpret what it’s seeing. And that’s what makes this film special. I’ve given it an interpretation, but you may see some elements differently depending on whether you take them literally or symbolically.

If you’re a vampire fan, it’s definitely worth checking out Vampyr. Of course, you can check out my vampire fiction by visiting http://www.davidleesummers.com/books.html#scarlet_order

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Kreativ Blogger Award and Updates

I was honored this week to receive “The Kreativ Blogger Award” from Paige Addams. She presented the award both this site and my Scarlet Order Vampire Site. Paige blogs about paranormal romance and is sharing her novel-in-progress. She’s raised some interesting writing issues there and it’s definitely a blog worth checking out.

For those who aren’t familiar with “blog awards” they basically are a way for people to share blogs they like. The “Kreativ Blogger” award was started in Norway by a lady named Hulda and she literally handcrafted the award and posted a photo to her blog. Here’s the original version that first hit the internet in May 2008:

The spirit of these awards is to “pay it forward” and recommend other blogs you like. Let me start out by recommending those blogs I have linked in the left-hand sidebar. Ernest Hogan, Emily Devenport, Robert Collins and Gayle Martin all have great things to say at their sites.

In addition to these, I have to give a special shoutout to Emily Guido who has been a loyal follower of both my blogs. I have been enjoying her excerpts from the “Light-Bearer” series about a group of angelic light bearers and their allies, the blood hunters. She also honored me with the “Lucky 7 Meme Award” which I’ll cover as part of tomorrow’s post at the Scarlet Order Vampire’s page.

Sky Warrior Books runs a blog I highly recommend. They post news of interest to writers along with some great marketing tips.

O.M. Grey’s Caught in the Cogs is a blog worth checking out. She is podcasting her steampunk vampire novel Avalon Revisited and talks about polyandrous relationships. This last won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but she has really good advice about relationships in general.

Finally, go check out Paige’s blog. I’m truly honored that she’s enjoyed both of my blogs enough to “pay it forward” and recommend me to her readers. Thank you, Paige!

Let me close out this section of the post by “paying it forward” another way. Is there a topic you’d like me to address here at the Web Journal or over at the Scarlet Order Vampires site? If so, drop me a comment. Topics related to writing, editing and astronomy will generally be covered here at the Web Journal. Topics about vampires and horror will likely be covered over the Scarlet Order Vampires page. I’m happy to see what I can do!

Coming Soon: Dragon’s Fall

I just finished reviewing the galley proofs for Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. This is the novel that tells how the Scarlet Order—a band of vampire mercenaries—were formed. It makes a journey from Hellenistic Greece through Arthurian Britain, into the Holy Land, and finally winds up in Vlad the Impaler’s Transylvania. The novel is the prequel to Vampires of the Scarlet Order which is available as:

Dragon’s Fall is my sixth novel. Now, if you have a copy of Owl Dance, you’ll see the blurb on the back touts that as my seventh novel. The reason for that is two-fold. First off, I finished writing Dragon’s Fall before I finished writing Owl Dance. Also, although the entire novel is just now moving into production, parts of Dragon’s Fall have been available for a while. Dragon’s Fall is a novel in five acts. Here are links where you can learn about the first two acts:

Tales of the Talisman Submissions

Tales of the Talisman Magazine opens to submissions tomorrow, July 1, 2012. We will remain open until full. Most likely that will be somewhere around August 15, 2012. We are reading for the Spring 2013 Steampunk Issue and the Summer 2014 issue. The Summer 2014 issue will return to our potpouri format of science fiction, fantasy and horror. So, all types of speculative fiction submissions will be welcome. Be sure to follow our guidelines at: http://www.talesofthetalisman.com/gl.html. If you can’t be bothered to follow the guidelines, don’t expect me to bother reading your story. Simple as that! If you’re confused about a point, feel free to ask. I look forward to your stories and good luck!