Thursday, April 29, 2010

Film #22: Vampyr (1932)

Where does a vampire keep his valuables?
In a blood bank!
Ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-… wait, why are you not laughing.
Oh, I see. That joke just didn’t cut it, huh. Cut the mustard.
It was rehashed and cliché. Mildly entertaining, but overall just boring and lacking emotional substance?
Coincidentally, these characteristics are exactly what you will find in this week's film “Vampyr.” The joke and this movie are similar in composition, and will make you feel exactly the same.

One day Allan Grey decides to go on an aimless stroll through the German countryside. Along the way he finds an old creepy inn, and apparently not having anything better to do (not a Jew in sight to beat!) he decides to stay for the night. Why not?! You know, nothing better than staying the night in a random hotel which upon walking in you see an eyeless woman wandering about and witness a robed man worshiping the Devil. Hey, can’t be worse than the Mag Mile’s Red Roof Inn, right?

Seems Grey has a taste for the supernatural, so he figures he might as well check in to check out the spooks. Much to his surprise, Grey is awoken that night by a strange intruder who hands him a sealed book and instructs Grey to not open it until after his demise. Also, before shambling out of a wallpapered door (so gaudy), he warns Grey to do whatever it takes to protect “the girl who lives upstairs.”

A bunch of random, incoherent stuff happens after that, which isn’t worth the finger strength to type. Grey eventually goes on another wander-fest and ends up at the intruder’s home, where he promptly sees the man murdered by, gasp, a “shadow person!”

The old man dead, Grey can open his little book, which turns out to be a historical account/manual on those creatures of the night, vampires! Finally, we get to the plot!
Vampires are common in the area, as are their helpers, the creepy “shadow people” – individuals whose criminal lost souls forever walk the earth performing evil deeds for vampires, the devil, basically anyone who can provide three hots and a cot.

Grey is taken in by the intruder author’s family, which is comprised of a few servants and two lovely daughters. Soon one of the daughters, who lives in the upstairs room (the warning!) is bitten by the robed devil worshiper, who turns out to be the village's head vampire.

As the one daughter starts to fade to the dark side due to her bites, the other one starts to make eyes at Pretty Boy Grey. No time for love though, as Grey and the house servants must use the old man’s vamp book to help defeat the village vampires and return poor daughter #1 to health.
At least we think that is the plot. Really hard to tell for sure. Weirdness and boredom abound in the 1932 flick “Vampyr.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 1.6
Chris Dimick bites:
“Vampyr sucked. And not in the way it is supposed to. If you are a vampire movie, Vampyr, then where the hell is the blood-sucking! Better yet, where are the vampires! I don’t recall either, you stupid asshole!
Okay…okay, calm down. Take it easy, Chris.
It’s just when a movie wastes my time as much as Vampyr did and then tries to pass itself off as a German Expressionism “classic,” it really gets deep in my craw.

This movie did not make sense from the beginning, and just continued on being confusing until its lame end.
To sum up Vampyr with one word, it was “boring.” Yes, boring. This is a first for me in the RDHP. Even if a film is bad, I can find something about it that keeps me entertained. Usually just the awfulness in itself will keep my eyes on the screen. But with Vampyr, if it wasn’t for Nick and me frequently joking around, I would have completely fallen asleep. I came real close at one point, my eyes closing for just a second. Seriously! Shame on you Vampyr, I have never even come close to falling asleep, ever, in a horror movie. You are my dirty first.

This movie couldn’t decide if it was a silent picture or a talkie. It was half silent, half talkie, and all horrible. The first talkie came out in 1927, so it doesn’t make sense to me why the director would film the movie as a silent homage only five years later, especially if they had full access to sound! Not only that, but the film isn’t truly a silent – there are some dialog exchanges and other sounds. But yet, these talkie moments are so horribly boring that they add nothing to the enjoyment of the film.

If you are not going to have sound, then damn-it movie, you need to dazzle me visually.
Dazzle me like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, or even Nosferatu. This one didn’t even come close. Sure, there were some inventive shots, namely the way the ghostly “shadow people” wrecked havoc across the set. Other shots were very nicely framed and pleasing to the eye. I'd even say many of the scenes were spooky.

But by no means was any of it groundbreaking, even for 1932, which is well after Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922). You could say, ‘Geez, Chris, go easy on them. It is an old movie, 1932! They did the best they could.”
This movie came out one year after the stunning “M”, which the RDHP reviewed earlier last year, so I know that German filmmakers are capable of much better cinema. This has no excuse, it is just bad.

Vampyr made absolutely no sense to Nick and me. We spent half the movie talking amongst ourselves trying to figure out the plot. It was like a German Expressionist version of a bad David Lynch movie. In fact, this movie made less sense than Phantasm, the granddaddy of stinkers in the RDHP!
I’ll concede that there were parts that were creepy, and were probably very scary in 1932. The movie played out as if the characters were in a never ending nightmare, plagued by shadow people and vampires. And don’t even get me started on the various infant human skeletons hanging in the head vampire’s home! Yikes!

But unlike many of the other silent and older talkies we have seen during the RDHP, this one just hasn’t stood tall against the hurricane of time. Viewing it today, it’s very outdated, cliché, and worse of all, boring.
I am not easily bored, especially when it comes to horror movies. Typically, I’m a very forgiving soul when it comes to plot, setting, acting, as long as the story is unique. But all the baby skeletons in the world couldn’t save this one from my sub-2.0 ratings dungeon.
I banish thee, Vampyr, down to the depths of movie hell! May your skin boil for eternity!

N-Rating: 1.4
Nick Rich bites:
"Reading Chris' synopsis of the film genuinely surprised me - because what he described was not what I recalled happening (NOT a good sign). There are movies that don't make sense, but in a cool way... sad to say, Vampyr could not pull this off, so I had to rate this one even lower than Phantasm.

First off, the film was restored poorly (if it was at all). At any given time there would be watermelon-sized blips that would obscure the shot. Which is not to say that the picture was clear when blip free - most of the long shots looked like how I experience the world when I remove my glasses (which is just disappointing). Flicks we've viewed from the 1920's looked crystal clear compared to some of the shots we were exposed to in this film, so I tend to think it was a result of poor camera work as opposed to equipment. It's fairly difficult to get into an already confusing film if you're squinting to see exactly what is happening.

Have we mentioned this film is confusing? If we have, I don't think we've stressed it enough to convey the randomness that abounds in this film. The plot isn't even conceived until almost halfway through the movie and when the details are revealed to help 'clear up ' the first half. I found myself perturbed instead of enlightened by the explanations provided (i.e. how you feel when a 'big reveal' makes you say, "and I care because...").

Don't even get me started on the copious amount of reading the viewer had to do when whole pages of the vampire diary were flashed on screen (sometimes for only a few seconds!) in the most difficult to read font EVER! I suppose I could have viewed this as some sort of rigorous training for an unforeseen future event, but mainly it was just frustrating.

I'm a nice guy, so I can concede there were some cool shots (shadow people) and interesting situations (one I can think off), but the soul-crushing boredom that abounded sucked any lasting life those moments could have had. Whenever said moments would occur I found myself thinking, "Oh, that shot was kinda-" then being violently launched back into the boredom abyss. At least Phantasm had the good sense to be cheesy so we could enjoy how horrible it was - this film gave us plenty of time to crack wise, but even that was unsatisfying due to the content.
Oh Vampyr, you wanted ever so desperately to be a serious flick, and serious you were... seriously boring.

The Skinny: Don't watch this film. Seriously, if you're tempted to watch a bad flick, just watch Phantasm. If you are assigned to watch it for a class just make something up - the teacher will not be able to tell the difference.”

Quote of the Viewing:
[Scene: Nick and Chris yell in horror at the various child skeletons hanging in a vampire's chambers]
Nick: “(In a sly voice) Hey Chris, what do you call a baby skeleton?”
Chris: “I don’t know, Nick, what DO you call a baby skeleton?"
Nick: “A beleton!”
Chris: (shakes head) “Booooooooooooooooooooo!!! Hahahaha. Boo!”

RDHP Salutes Things That Are Boring:
Vampyr was boring, really, really boring. But there are things far more snooze inducing that we unfortunately experience in everyday life. But you know what they say, ‘If you're bored, just get drunk!” Try that advice next time you come up against any of the following torture-fests.

You have to be really sick to take pleasure in doing math. I’m talking Eddie Gein sick.

Don’t give us that “But, I love my job” crap. Every job has its boring moments. You know, those “I’m about to jump out the window just to end this meeting” moments. Why do people looooooooove to hear themselves talk?

Traffic Jams
After two hours stuck in the same spot on I-94, not even the radio can help stave off the boredom bug. Try passing the time counting the number of anger veins popping out of your forehead.

NASCAR TV Broadcasts
Who watches this? People go to these events for the crashes, but are they really all that exciting through the glass tube? Who sits for hours on a Sunday afternoon watching cars run around a loop? Soooooooooooooo boring! Pass the Maker’s Mark already!

Vegetables in general are boring, but beets are the Ben Stein of the veggie world. Name one good thing that is made with beets? Thought so…

Hippy Jam-Band Music
There is a reason fans of The Grateful Dead and Phish get Pluto-level high at their concerts. The music is so uninspired and boring they need something to help power through. You know, any music sounds great when it is being piped into a head full of acid.

Tuesday at 2:13 p.m.
This exact time is the apex of boredom hell. First off, it’s Tuesday, a full three days until the next sweet weekend, and much too long since the last weekend to still reveal in its exploits. Welcome to the Dead Zone, in the Dead Hour. Lunch is long gone, and even so that sandwich, pretzels and pear you ate wasn’t that stimulating to begin with. With three hours left till quitting time, no end is in sight. Such torture.

Wedding Dress TV Shows
When the wife puts on “Say Yes to the Dress” or any of the other wedding themed shows plaguing cable these days, it takes all a man has not to grab the closest pens, stick them in his eyes, and slam his face into the coffee table. Just kidding, sweetie! (no, seriously, so boring!)

Things the RDHP Learned from Watching Vampyr:
-Chris can’t stand doors that blend into the wallpaper. It enrages him.
-Ghosts can shoot people with shadow guns (so be careful).
-When going on an aimless journey, always bring your butterfly nets.
-Death is a great reason to invite a stranger to stay in your home.
-Bondage was big in 1930s Germany (see movie still below)
-Giving blood produces the same effects as LSD. To the Red Cross!

RDHP Presents: Smart Men Who Look Crazy

The doctor in Vampyr (above) who fought to treat a vampire-bitten girl was surely a smart man… but you just couldn’t trust him due to his wild hair, google eyes, and stumbly walk. I’m sure he was likely sane, but he just looked so crazy! Below, we honor other great and smart men who really embrace that fashionable look of “cat-crap bonkers.”

Albert Einstein
Help! A nutcase just escaped from the asylum and is running… oh, wait, that is just the father of modern physics. What?! I guess all that thinking about E = MC2 made him forget to brush his hair.

James Carville
Amazing commentator and political strategist. He also looks like a freshly hatched alien ready to gnaw through your skull.

Steven Hawking
First look at this guy, out of context, and you’d think man had finally created a cyborg. Bless his astrophysics knowledge though, because without it poor Steven would be just another crippled guy having his wallet stolen by the nursing home temp.

Doc Brown
He invented the flux capacitor and helped get Marty back to the future, but with eyebrows like that it is no wonder Doc was committed to the psych ward in alternative 1985. If you don’t get this reference, shame on you non-BTTF worshiper!

Lou Piniella
Arguably a baseball managerial genius with a World Series ring on his finger and six division titles. Yet, those eyes belong stuffed in a white padded room. In his defense, the Cubs can make any man look crazy.

Rain Man
I wouldn’t get within kicking distance of this loon, unless he was playing my $100 at the blackjack table.

The Burger King
Yeah, he breaks into your house only to sneak into your bed, and has a face that puts the willies down any spine. But don’t call the men in white yet. The man makes a mean burger.

High School Math Teachers
Why do these guys all look the same. Frazzled, broken, and a look in the eye that at any moment they’re going to take your slide ruler and stuff it up your “multiplication sign”. Give them some credit though, no matter how many times they strike out trying to get a piece of Miss. Yuppie the Art Teacher, they can do some mean calculi.

Impress Your Friends!
Stupid Vampire Jokes!
This was a stupid vampire movie. To go along with it, some stupid vampire jokes. Memorize them all for fast party ice-breakers! Unless you party in Transylvania… now that would be awkward.

Q: Why did the vampire attack the clown?
A: He wanted the circus to be in his blood.

Q: What is Dracula’s favorite fruit?
A: Neck-tarines.

Q: What happened to the two mad vampires?
A: They both went a little batty.

Q: What do vampires cross the sea in?
A: Blood vessels.

Q: Which vampire tried to eat James Bond?
A: Ghouldfinger.

Q: When do vampires bite you?
A: On Wincedays.

Q: Why is Hollywood full of vampires?
A: They need someone to play the bit parts.

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