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Shadow of the Vampire
     

Shadow of the Vampire

4.3 6
Director: E. Elias Merhige

Cast: John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Cary Elwes

 

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The torturous production of the classic 1922 vampire film Nosferatu is recreated in this stylized account of director F.W. Murnau and his obsession with creating realistic horror by any means necessary -- even if those means include actual bloodletting. The film begins as Murnau (John Malkovich) is ready to take his unauthorized interpretation of the Bram

Overview

The torturous production of the classic 1922 vampire film Nosferatu is recreated in this stylized account of director F.W. Murnau and his obsession with creating realistic horror by any means necessary -- even if those means include actual bloodletting. The film begins as Murnau (John Malkovich) is ready to take his unauthorized interpretation of the Bram Stoker tale on location in Czechoslovakia. There, the director has arranged for his cast and crew to live in the same castle in which they will shoot their parts, as they all wait for their co-star, Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) -- Murnau's choice to play Count Orlok -- to arrive. Their leader has warned them that Schreck is a student of the Stanislovsky method of performance and will not respond to them out-of-character. Nothing, however, can prepare them for the real thing: when the actor arrives, he's already in full Gothic regalia, asserting that he is indeed a vampire. Schreck makes good on his claims by terrorizing the cast and crew, attacking Murnau's original cinematographer (Wolfgang Muller) and plucking bats out of the air for midnight snacks. Director E. Elias Merhige previously made his name with his experimental theater productions and with his horrific film school thesis, Begotten.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
An ingenious and surprisingly effective narrative gimmick is employed in this hard-to-classify film, which purports to tell the "real" story behind the making of Nosferatu, the 1922 German horror film that brought director F. W. Murnau international acclaim. According to Steven Katz's devilishly clever script, Murnau (played by John Malkovich with his customary intensity) brings verisimilitude to his unauthorized screen version of the Dracula legend by casting an authentic vampire, Max Schreck (a nearly unrecognizable Willem Dafoe), in the title role. Only trouble is, Schreck can't restrain his unholy urges -- and his periodic feedings on cast and crew members outstrip Murnau's ability to replace them. Director E. Elias Merhige (Begotten) replicates certain images from Nosferatu with uncanny accuracy, but fidelity to cinematic history isn't his primary aim; he's interested in exploiting a lunatic notion that provokes chuckles as well as chills. Although Shadow swings from suspenseful horror to black comedy, Merhige maintains an eerie, unhealthy atmosphere throughout. Malkovich portrays Murnau as a perpetually annoyed, arrogant, frustrated artist, and Dafoe -- who earned an Oscar nomination for his performance -- makes Schreck alternately terrifying and ridiculous. Shadow of the Vampire deserves one look solely on the basis of its audacious concept, but it's a deliciously macabre movie that begs for repeated viewings. Merhige provides a commentary for the DVD, which also includes an interview with producer Nicolas Cage, a featurette covering the film's inspiration and production, and a gallery of stills.
Entertainment Weekly - Lisa Schwarzbaum
The reason German actor Max Schreck was such a convincing, terrifying Dracula in Nosferatu is because he really was a vampire.... That, at least, is the delicious premise of Shadow of the Vampire. E. Elias Merhige's kicky, elaborately constructed fantasy is both an erudite homage to Murnau's 1922 silent horror classic and a high-spirited meditation on bloodsucking, filmmaking, and the correlation between the two. It's also a feast of fangs-bared acting by two exemplars of the form, John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/02/2001
UPC:
0096898630931
Original Release:
2000
Rating:
R
Source:
Universal Studios

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Malkovich FW. Murnau
Willem Dafoe Max Schreck
Cary Elwes Fritz Wagner
Eddie Izzard Gustav Von Wangerheim
Udo Kier Albin Grau
Catherine McCormack Greta Schroeder
Ronan Vibert Wolfgang Muller

Technical Credits
E. Elias Merhige Director
Paul Brooks Executive Producer
Anni Buchanan Makeup
Nicolas Cage Producer
Jimmy De Brabant Co-producer
Caroline de Vivaise Costumes/Costume Designer
Assheton Gorton Production Designer
Nigel Heath Sound Editor
Dan Jones Score Composer
Steven Katz Screenwriter
Jeff Levine Producer
Carl Proctor Casting
Carlo Thoss Sound/Sound Designer
Chris Wyatt Editor

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Shadow of the Vampire 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved Shadow of the Vampire. It was extremely interesting to me. The writing, camera work were top of the line, and Dafoe's performance is among the best. I saw the 1922 classic Nosferatu after seeing Shadow of the Vampire, and it made it all the more interesting because Nosferatu actually earned my praise as a great piece of moviemaking. The 70 minutes it took to watch Nosferatu simply flew by. It was very neat to watch both movies and compare them to each other. Shadow of the Vampire was probably the second or third best movie of last year and that and Nosferatu enter my top list of all time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a one of a kind movie. very original and clever story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend it. Dafoe deserved the oscar for this role. Very good plot, intense acting.
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