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Shadow of the Vampire

USA 2000, Color, 92 min
Director E. Elias Merhige
Screenplay Steven Katz
Producers: Jeff Levine, Nicolas Cage
John Malkovich Director F.W. Murnau
Willem Dafoe Actor Max Schreck
Udu Kier Producer Albin Grau
Cary Elwes Kamera man Fritz Wagner
Catherine McCormack Greta
Eddy Izzard Gustav von Wangenheim

Back in 1922 Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau shoots his expressionistic masterpiece "Nosferatu". The lead, Max Schreck, being a genuine vampire, really makes it a "symphony of horror", which is the German subtitle. But this isn't known to anybody exept Director Murnau. To his crew he introduces Schreck as some kind of early Method-Acting artist, who only appears on the scene at night and in his costume, in order to completely grow into his role. In the beginning this appears quite funny and at the same time disgusting to everybody around. The Director, self-righteous and drug addicted has concluded a diabolic pact pact with the Nosferatu: After the shooting the main actress, Greta Schröder, is to be served for dinner. Too bad, that Schreck doen't feel like acting according to the instructions of the Maestro and decimates the crew one after the other, until the last survivours, locked in a room are exposed to the arbitrariness of the blood sucker. Murnau only sees a last chance to handle the situation: filming as much as he can: The end of the Vampire is as a matter of fact quite the same as in "Nosferatu". The women makes the vampire forget time, the first sunrays burn the monster. Dead bodies tower up and Murnau asks for the last scene.

Now this is an original Idea: Max Schreck, lead in the mother of all vampire movies a real vampire? Well - nobody ever played this role more frightening than him, nobody ever looked more bizarr than him. Moreover, estonighingly few is known about Max Schreck. Nosferatu was his only lead, that's sure. Even after searching the www for quite some time we were not able to get to know much about him. He made movies with Carl Valentin and Berthold Brecht, but always played merely small parts. But it calmed us down to know that he is burried on a graveyard in Berlin Wilmersdorf, otherwise you could really end up believing ...

But no! Remember? He was burnt by the sun in the end. Differnt to Patrick Lussiers stupid "Dracula 2000", "Shadow of the Vampire" is a real highlight of the genre and proofs that even in the new millenium theres material for new movies, provided that you do not take the first screen play available and do not leave over the director's chair to a complete bungler. Instead, Shadow of the Vampire is a lovable tribute to a legendary movie with a grandiose actor. Apropos grandiose actor: William Dafoes performance in the role of the vampire Max Schreck, aright nominated for an Oskar, can be absolutely compared with the real Schreck. The last time, Dafoe was this brilliant was when playing mean Bobby Peru in David Lynch's Wild at heart. His somehow droll-characteristic silent movie scenes his bizarr comments make the audience in the movie theatre laugh hysterically. It's really been a while that we had the creeps as pleasently as in "Shadow of the Vampire".


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