While filming Nosferatu, director F.W. Murnau hires a man named Max Schrek to play the title vampire, which he plays very well, because he really is a vampire!
Judging a Book by its Cover
-So much ugly on one poster. I bet it’d burn up if holy water touched it.
-Dafoe is being brave showing off his real hands.
Directed by E. Elias Merhige
Starring John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack and Udo Kier
Director F. W. Murnau decides to make his next film a masterpiece, an unauthorized take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Murnau takes only a skeleton crew of filmmakers with him to Czechoslovakia as he wants the film to be perfect, budget be damned. He finds an ugly creature of a man in Max Schreck to play his vampire, Count Orlok, however Schreck’s scenes can only be filmed at night and every now and then a cast member or a set builder goes missing. Happens all the time!’
Murnau remains tight-lipped to his cast and crew about where exactly he found Schreck. No one’s ever heard of him and he plays the role a little too well. He legitimately scares the bejesus out of everyone after he loses his mind when a cast member cuts themselves and Schreck attempts to snack from the wound. Talk about method acting! As it turns out, Murnau found Schreck in the nearby castle they’re filming in and yes, he is a real vampire. Murnau’s dedication to realism in his film has him strike a deal with the creature to be in his film and in return Schreck will get the leading lady for his troubles.
Schreck becomes interested in the technology brought by the crew particularly the cameras after viewing a sunrise, one of the few things he’s never seen as he knows it’ll kill him. The film has several moments like this which shows Schreck as a bit of a tragic figure. He’s still a naughty creature though and cannot control his vampiristic tendencies and attacks the crew to feed as Murnau becomes frustrated with his star ruining his movie.
Shadow of the Vampire strives to be a genre film, a period piece as well as a “What if?” scenario to a classic film and accomplishes them all very well. John Malkovich is awesome as Murnau, who slowly descends into madness to make sure his movie is done the way he wants it. Dafoe is perfect as Max Schreck, easily one of his best performances I’ve ever seen, as a creature brought into a more modern era. The rest of the cast, including Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack and Udo Kier, only add more class to this fantastic picture.
Story: 9 – German director F. W. Murnau is off to film his legendary vampire film, Nosferatu, and to add a bit of realism he decides to hire a real vampire to play his creature. What could go wrong?
Blood: 3 – There’s not an awful lot of blood shown on screen though that certainly doesn’t detract from any enjoyment you’ll get from the film.
Nudity: 6 – Some brief boobage is shown.
Overall: 9 – I like the idea, it’s a great story, and plenty of fantastic actors deliver the goods in this film. Check it out!
-Producers for the 2002 Spider-Man film hired Willem Dafoe for the Green Goblin role after watching this film.
-Actor Udo Kier got the chance to play Count Dracula in 1974’s Blood for Dracula.