Vampires, you can’t do without them and they can’t do without you. Just when you forgot all about them, some new movie pops up and reminds you of these bloodsucking creatures. And each of these movies is different, adding new twists and perspectives on the ancient myth. Dampyr is a horror vampire movie featuring a rather casual atmosphere and an old school vibe. At first, it might feel a bit off but the more time goes on, the more entertaining it becomes. While the visuals feel modern, the story and the characters feel delightfully eighties. The entire movie is charmingly ambitious trying to tell an epic story but on a tight budget.
It’s actually based on a graphic novel series of the same name by Mauro Boselli and Maurizio Colombo. Moreover, it’s supposed to be the first installation in the Bonelli Cinematic Universe (BCU). And yes, this is an Italian movie but the dialogue is in English. To make things even more interesting, Dampyr is an Italian movie taking place in ex-Yugoslavia but shot in Romania. I say interesting because, as we all know, Vlad Dracula, or Vlad The Impaler comes from Romania. The word vampire actually comes from Serbia, a country that was a part of Yugoslavia before the bloody war featured in this movie.
So, the story takes place in the middle of it, with warring sides wiping each other left and right. Here, we meet Harlan Draka, a guy traveling from village to village supposedly ridding them of supernatural threats. As you can already guess, Draka will soon run into a real supernatural threat and learn his true origin. That stylish opening sequence more than hints at that. So, you might say that this is a fairly predictable and formulaic movie. And yet, I found it oddly compelling. I mean, only after about an hour did I check how much was there ’till the end. In terms of gore and graphic violence, there will be just one nasty torture scene towards the end and that’s it.
The quality of the special effects is good, surprisingly good for a production of this size. It’s one notch below big vampire movies and several notches above low-budget productions. Speaking of which, there’s a huge number of low-budget vampire movies that are just hilarious. Almost all of them fall into the “so bad that it’s good” category. So you might want to check them out, starting with Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. Moving on, the mostly unknown cast did a solid job. Although we do have David Morrissey (The Walking Dead) playing the main bad vampire.
He looks like Gríma Wormtongue and sounds like Eowyn. When it comes to the action, it ranges from acceptable to cartoonish. After all, this is a movie based on a graphic novel so I get why they went this route. There will be a lot of reaction shots and snarling along with all the usual B action movie tricks. I’m talking about infinite ammo, over-the-top kills, and hand-to-hand combat despite an abundance of automatic weapons. Everything culminates in the final showdown between Draka and Gorka, our half-vampire, half-human, and the evil vampire overlord. This isn’t the first movie featuring that type of a battle.
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is an intriguing animated extravaganza from 2000. I recommend you check it out if you’re looking for vampire movies with a twist. In the end, Dampyr is a welcome and refreshing time-killer well worth your time. If they trimmed it a bit, keeping the running time under ninety minutes, it would be much better. Considering the setting and the overall atmosphere, you might want to continue your fantasy/horror journey with Spectral. It’s basically the same movie as this one only featuring ghosts instead of vampires. While we wait for Dampyr 2, of course.
Director: Riccardo Chemello
Writers: Mauro Boselli, Maurizio Colombo, Giovanni Masi
Cast: Wade Briggs, Stuart Martin, Frida Gustavsson, Sebastian Croft, David Morrissey, Luke Roberts
Fun Facts: The budget for the movie Dampyr was $15 million. The production lasted for about three years.