Vampires are in crisis these days. You can't shake a stake without hitting a bloodsucker fan who believes that sparkle-studded skin and blunt teeth are the stuff vamps are made of. Though many scribes over the years have challenged notions of what it is to be a vampire -- 'Buffy' made them wrinkly, Anne Rice made them depressed and overtly sexual, 'Daybreakers' made them civilized -- the Twi-hard contingent has rocked fang fans to the core, creating an outright necessity for old-school vampires.

Naturally, there's no cinematic vampire more worthy of ripping the angst and humanity from modern vamps like the man who has chilled us to the bone for almost 90 years -- F.W. Murnau's 'Nosferatu.'
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F.W. Murnau (1888-1931), German film director during the silent era and participant of the expressionists.

Main Players
Max Schreck, German horror movie actor. Translated to English, his name would be Max Terror (or Fear). Also, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schroder and Alexander Granach.

It's basically the plot of Dracula -- man meets new client, who turns out to be a bloodsucker that turns his life upside down, preying on his lady and sucking blood wherever he can.


Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' dates back to 1897. By the time Murnau made his adaptation some 20+ years later, Bram was dead. However, his widow took the production to court, eager to have the film destroyed. Though she won her suit to have all the prints and negatives destroyed, prints remained, which is why we can see it today.

Though a rip on Stoker's material, the film added a very important element to the canon -- the idea that sunlight is deadly to vampires.

The blue tint to some scenes was added to make night scenes look like it was actually night, when they were obviously shot during the day.

The movie was banned in Sweden for excessive horror until the ban was lifted in 1972.

In 1979, Werner Herzog made a tribute to the film, now going back to some of the subject's Stoker roots with 'Nosferatu the Vampyre.'

The making of the film was fictionalized into E. Elias Merhige's 2000 film, 'Shadow of the Vampire.' John Malkovich plays Murnau, while Willem Dafoe plays Schreck, a man who might just be a real vampire.
categories Columns, Cinematical