Steven Severin: Vampyr - Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh, Thu 12 Jan (3 stars)

Steven Severin: Vampyr - Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh, Thu 12 Jan

The ex-Banshees bassist delivers a brooding live score to the 1930s horror classic

The man with the flowing white hair walks towards a small table and chair to one side of the Cameo’s big screen. Sporting a long black winter coat and carrying a glass of red wine, the man looks as if he’s stepped in from another, altogether darker age of shadows and light. Especially when juxtaposed against the shiny silver Macbook perched on the table which he sits himself down before. Such a clash of time-zones may be accidental, but it’s the perfect introduction to former Siouxsie and the Banshees bass player Steven Severin’s contemporary live score for Vampyr, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1932 study in parasitic possession, in which young fogey Allan Grey blank-walks his way into saving the lives of a pair of once-bitten sisters.

Severin’s use of brooding synth shards that ooze in and out provides a delicious counterpoint to Dreyer’s consciously over-egged visual signifiers, which bridge Victorian melodrama and high-end expressionism. Ushered in by bells, a recurring theme for Allan, and even some dance-band jauntiness, Severin’s latest score in his Music For Silents series following treatments of works by Germaine Dulac, Robert Wiene and Jean Cocteau lends even more menace than Wolfgang Zeller’s original in an intensely brooding and at times sepulchral-sounding affair, that’s wholly serious in intent and execution.

Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh, Thu 12 Jan.

Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)


  • 1932
  • Germany
  • 1h 22min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Carl Theodor Dreyer
  • Cast: Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel, Jan Hieronimko, Sybille Schmitz, Rena Mandel, Henriette Gerard

Dreyer's version of Carmilla is one of the most poetic pieces of vampire cinema in film history. Beautifully photographed with a dream-like mood and logic, it uses the camera often from a subjective viewpoint, thereby becoming one of the first psychological horror films.

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