Diabolique: The Shadow of Carmilla

On Diabolique, I’m writing about Carl Theodor Dreyer’s surreal 1932 horror film Vampyr, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, and the early history of vampire fiction.

There is a moment in Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr, an unimportant throw-away couple of seconds, where the nominal hero of the story catches sight of a couple of shadows, shadows with no physical source, creeping across a field. The film is grainy, hazy, gauzy. It captures perfectly the prevailing atmosphere of Vampyr. Though ostensibly a vampire film, the hypnotic power of the movie flows not from the more visceral terror of fanged bloodsuckers, but rather it comes from a vaguer, ethereal place; something to do with ancient beings glimpsed from the corner of the eye, ancient mysterious powers, murky forests and glens that are at once idyllic and unnerving. There is something very pagan about the film that places it not among the famous works of vampire fiction, but alongside Arthur Machen’s “The White People” and films such as The Wicker Man.

Full article: The Shadow of Carmilla: From Camilla to Carl Dreyer