The Count, the Baron and the Duke


In March 2012 I bought a copy of Elle Decoration to feed my obsession with interiors (mainly because I long to have one of those minimalist spaces that they’re always showing and I’m unlikely to attain). The style icon page was all about Baron Nicky de Gunzburg who in Elle Deco’s words was “the movie star-turned-interior-designer with a taste for the dark side”.

Imagine Count Dracula dressed as a Proustian dandy with Oscar Wilde’s wit, and you’re halfway there……Captivated by the new art form of cinema, he starred in one of the earliest horror movies, Vampyr, in 1932, using the pseudonym Julian West. His habit of wearing top-to-toe black, with silk-lined shoes (he hated socks) was more than a camp gesture; he loved morbid things and filled his New York apartment with momento mori.

At the time of reading this I learned that The Duke of York’s, an art house cinema in Brighton, was showing Vampyr. These are the kind of coincidences I love, as if destiny is trying to tell you something, my mum had given me a book at Christmas written by one of her friends, Clare Holtham,  who sadly died last year. Clare, with her partner Eddie Block, founded the Cambridge Film Festival and turned the Duke of York cinema “from fleapit to an art house cinema”. If you’re in Brighton then check it out, it is a gorgeous cinema and shows the most interesting films. Of course I wanted to go, but couldn’t get a babysitter, so have yet to see this film. At home we have a growing collection of vintage horror, but unfortunately Vampyr is not among them.There’s a lot of Hammer especially those starring Christopher Lee, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing – stars of the classic (and frankly not that scary now) vampire and horror movies. Vampyr belongs to the Nosferatu genre of horror, and nearly silent movies that have an atmosphere of fear.

Now, I hear (on Shaun Keaveny’s breakfast show 6Music) that Vampyr is touring the country with a soundtrack performed live by Stephen Severin. Apparently the music is ‘incredibly spooky’. It will be at The Lowry Centre in Salford this weekend and at other venues up and down the country. Catch it if you can (and only if you like scary vintage of course).

See Shadowplay – “The Wilfully Eccentric Film Blog” for more on films like this and ‘A floury Scarf’ for specific thoughts on Vampyr …

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