The Vampiric Vanity Project That Became a Watershed Moment in Horror

The name Carl Theodor Dreyer is probably not familiar to the average moviegoer. A Danish auteur whose almost 50-year career produced only a dozen movies, he was an ambitious pioneer of early cinema who always wanted to push the limit. In a letter he wrote to prospective backers in his early career, he said, “I will make it my goal to produce a work of art which will set a standard for future films,” and in his own unique way, he achieved this. As film historian Casper Tybjerg has lengthily chronicled, Dreyer was a determined artist who would do whatever it took to bring his ideas to life. Following his now-classic but contemporaneously disappointing run with The Passion of Joan of Arc, Dreyer wanted to do something different, and through a number of interesting twists, ended up delving into the horror genre with his silent masterpiece, 1932’s Vampyr. What he didn’t see coming was how the involvement of a wealthy baron named Nicolas de Gunzburg would take his latest project from idea to finished product.

​ The 1932 horror film Vampyr has all the markers of an A24 horror film – decades before the distributor would come to be.