Monograph on Carl Th. Dreyer's 1932 'poem of horror'

British Film Institute Film Classics 2005, second edition 2013 Palgrave Macmillan

      1.   Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889 - 1968)

      2.   Locating Vampyr in Dreyer's cinema and in its Sources

      3.   The 'Problem' of Vampyr

      4.   Vampyr:  Towards a Reading

      5.   The Journey to Our Grave

79 pages     58 stills     45 end-notes

Second Edition (96 pages) incorporates some factual corrections and an author's Foreword written mainly in the light of Martin Koerber's restoration of the film (Cineteca di Bologna, 2008)


stories from between worlds'

                The Composer

                Reckoning at Rue Head

                The Sentinel

                The Grey Lady

                Off with his Head

                To the Arctic Cathedral

                I Whistle, and You'll Come to Me



The unorthodox numbering is for thematic reasons of my own.

-1 The Composer
Brahms has not, as we are told, died in 1897 at the age of 64, but has lived on to compose another pair of symphonies, a 5th and a 6th, and sent them as usual to his publisher. Why has he not heard back? Apparently the firm has been taken over; with some difficulty, Brahms arranges a meeting…

0 Reckoning at Rue Head
A failing writer visits a wild island off the north coast of Ireland on an obscure impulse to atone for a wrong done in his youth. He begins to have distant sightings of an intriguing figure, an ‘artistic’-looking woman, always slowly walking in a direction away from him. He knows that somewhere they’ll come face to face…

1     The Sentinel
An elderly couple have moved house. Halfway down the long garden at the back, stands the compelling figure of a tree – a sycamore, is it? – that seems to the wife to demand some tribute from her before she can pass…

2    The Grey Lady
At a farmhouse dinner-party, the conversation turns to the vintage upright piano in the room. ‘There’s a grey lady standing there,’ the hostess’ little daughter says.  ‘Like she's watching someone play.’ ‘Howard,’ says the professor’s wife to a solitary quiet guest: ‘You play the piano.'  'Oh no...'  'Marvellously.’ Howard sees he has no option. He makes his slow way toward the piano, frantically rooting in his head for a simple piece that he can play without disaster – then suddenly finds himself sitting down and already delivering a cascade of notes that announce a famous old warhorse of a piece he has only ever stumbled through till now…

3    Off with his Head
A high-powered linguist, on a train en route to the airport for a flight to Geneva, feels a sudden impulse to take off his head. He finds it surprisingly easy. He simply lifts away his head – surprisingly heavy, too – and sets it carefully down on the seat beside him. Good. He feels so much better…

4    To the Arctic Cathedral
The unventuresome Treeby, dull schoolmaster bereaved and divorced, settles into his fireside chair one winter evening to savour his Christmas treat to himself, a box-set of Parsifal. The phone rings. A ‘collect’ call from – somewhere in Norway, is it? ‘Who’s calling?’ ‘He says he is your son.’ Treeby’s heart drops like lead. His son. After all these years. Unmistakeably the same voice. Same truculence. All Treeby’s angers with the boy come flooding back, all the pain, and churn him up horribly. What churns him up even more, his son has been thirteen years dead. No. It’s a scam. A cruel scam – Three nights later, to a rationale he does not understand, Treeby finds himself arriving in a midwinter Arctic city, to meet this son, he does not know where. You’ll know where, the son has said.  You’ll see it.

5    I Whistle, and You Come to Me
Calum, a sonsy gay young college lecturer on Film, picks up – or is picked up by? – a forward rent-boy on the Costa del Sol. To Calum, it’s shaping up as the encounter of his dreams; but why in mid-sex is he being distracted by irrelevant cutaway thoughts? What are those little animal scuffings and scurryings he half-glimpses and half-hears? And why does this intoxicatingly transgressive Danni want him to ‘be daddy’ and ‘make him baby’? As a film buff, Calum should know better than go back a second time…

6    ShoreZone
An abandoned fishing-village on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast. A shallow and empty young market trader looking here for a ‘second home’ for his unlovely self and his abrasive wife. He is drawn particularly to the ‘Old Rectory’: it’s ‘very Us’. But this village has a frightening other identity – and he too has another identity, calling to him, transforming him…

A Gothic story, of novella length, written in effect as a film for the reader to see in the head.

7    St.-Émilion
He is here. He is truly here. After an adult lifetime dreaming of this legendary place, knowing it only as a name on the labels of its wines, he is here. On its rock acropolis amid a green sea of vines, the iconic little town is all about him, physical and real. His heart wells with love for his daughter and her partner who have brought him here, knowing how much it means to him…

A short coda to the complete ShoreZone sequence, a quiet song of joy – entwined with sorrow: for this St.-Émilion is 'between worlds'too…

written in Chartres cathedral on the afternoon of July 30th 2009


The Keeper

A 'last'(?) short story, it could well be an Epilogue to the ShoreZone 'stories from between worlds', but it stands alone.

Published by Nightjar Press April 2021


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