Creepy ambience from a master

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Really, the whole film (Vampyr) by Carl Theodore Dreyer is an exercise in creepy ambiance. The light and shadow, the sets, the characters - they are all more than a little surreal. This particular clip, however, is just one set that could have been rather mundane. It is the doctor's office. I think you will agree, however, that this is no ordinary doctor.

The very first feature of the room is a small child's skeleton. That's creepy and unusual enough, at least to me. But look at the shadows. What does that look like to you? What do you immediately associate with this image?
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Then we pan over the collection of mouldering books askew on the shelf, and of course the adult human skull. There are a number of weird props in the room, including something that appears to be a vice of some kind. Look at the walls themselves - they just look like something more apt in an abandoned house than a doctor's quarters.

The baboon skull is nice. Personally, I went to Petsmart and got a ceramic aquarium decoration that looks like a dog's skull and a saber tooth cat skull, and I'm going to get a turtle skull ASAP too. Weird skulls definitely add to the feel of the place.

We see another skeleton - possibly a newborn this time. The sense of untimely death seems a theme here. It is displayed in front of what appears to be an empty curio cabinet. Why not inside? no idea. Again, look at the walls. Don't they look burned to you?

Check out the light fixture (?) at 0:34. You can't tell me that is normal. It looks like something straight out of a haunt. It's morbid and creepy and there is no way it serves a legitimate medical purpose, even if it is not a light fixture really (everyone uses candles for light in this film).

The mantle over the fireplace proves you can never have too many skulls! The light and shadow is harsh. I cannot tell for sure, but one of the skulls - second from the left - looks like it still has flesh on it to me.
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I have no idea what to make of the furniture - especially the bizarre overstuffed leather chair apparently designed for maximum discomfort. The doctor's potions and chemicals and a few simple tools complete the room. Even the fact that there are so few tools on a rack obviously meant for more suggests a decline to me. Maybe this guy is doing less and less healing these days.

After our observer leaves and the doctor enters, the room responds. I know my fellow haunters will love the glowing eyes at 1:11 and are already planning how to build the skull at 1:17. They are pretty great!
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Of course, the odd noises that bring our hero into the office in the first place are important, as is the music. Haunters today could pick up some Midnight Syndicate for similar effect.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the doctor's lair. There are so many lessons for a haunt from this movie. We could do a lot worse than to create an atmosphere like the one Dreyer has created here.

Happy Haunting!

Updated 07-01-2018 at 08:40 AM by JustJimAZ