Nosferatu: The Vampyre

     This is a German film made in 1979 which has only recently become available on video and DVD. It's yet another adaptation of Dracula, but in a more indirect way; this one is actually a remake of one of the earliest film adaptations of Stoker's novel, the incredible German silent film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922) directed by F. W. Murnau. This Nosferatu is also an excellent film, and made by one of the most talented directors I know of, Werner Herzog (also check out his Aguirre: The Wrath of God and Every Man for Himself and God Against All). This is by far the most evil, most pessimistic vampire movie I've ever seen. In the original Nosferatu, a sacrifice from a pure, loving woman ended the horror; in Herzog's version, her sacrifice is in vain and it seems quite possible that the horror will spread out unstoppably over the whole earth. Klaus Kinski, a veteran of numerous Herzog films, including Aguirre, is incredible as the Count (also see him with Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's spaghetti western classic, For a Few Dollars More; he's only got a bit part as one of the bad guy's gang, but he gets to say one of the best lines in the movie); this is by far one of the best Draculas ever, and a very different one than you may be used to. Most vampires are depicted as suave, slick seducers who are physically energetic and attractive. Kinski's Dracula is a hideous creature who drifts slowly and menacingly across the frame. And note that this is not just a vampire movie; Herzog also has things to say about modern society, science, and the narrow, rule-oriented mindset. Definitely check this movie out.

Jim Genzano

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