Movie Information

Nosferatu will be shown outdoors (weather permitting) Saturday, Oct. 25, at 9 p.m., at the lower level of the Wedge (in front of the Wedge Brewing Co.), 125B Roberts St. A "bring your own lawn chair" event. Info: 505-2792.
Genre: Horror
Director: F.W. Murnau
Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav v. Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach, Georg H. Schnell
Rated: NR

F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) is the stuff legends and nightmares and lawsuits are made of. In many ways, it’s the movies’ first true horror picture, and it is the first real vampire movie. So otherworldly and creepy is its vampire, Count Orlock (Max Schreck), that rumors persist that he was a real vampire. Indeed, that’s the central premise behind E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire (2000), with Willem Dafoe as Schreck. The film’s lingering impact caused Werner Herzog to create a reimagining of it in 1979 as Nosferatu the Vampyre. Tobe Hooper reinvented the character of the vampire from Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot to fit the Schreck characterization in his 1979 TV film of the novel. The über-villain of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992) played by Christopher Walken is named “Max Schreck.” This is all pretty amazing when you realize that the film itself only exists at all thanks to film pirates. Bram Stoker’s (you know, the guy who wrote Dracula, on which Nosferatu is based) widow successfully sued the film company for copyright infringement (it’s a barely disguised rip-off), and all prints of the film were ordered to be destroyed, which, as you can see, didn’t quite happen.

So how scary is Nosferatu today? Well, that probably depends on your definition of scary. It probably won’t make anyone run from the screening or faint from sheer terror. Some of it—especially the acting by everyone but Schreck—is even apt to garner laughs. But the cumulative effect of the film’s atmosphere—actually enhanced by its antique quality, which makes it look like it came from another world—and the look and presence of Schreck’s vampire seep into the mind as a nightmare vision that can’t be dismissed. Once seen, it’s never entirely forgotten, never shaken off—and that’s not something anyone’s apt to be saying 86 years after the fact with a movie like this week’s new horror release, Saw V.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.