Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979)


Now ever pastier than before!
Now even pastier than before!

Genre: Horror (West Germany, France)

Starring: Klaus Kinski (Jack the Ripper • Fitzcarraldo), Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire • Downfall)

Directed By: Werner Herzog (Aguirre, Wrath of God Rescue Dawn)

Overview: Based on Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, this is the story of a man who travels to Count Dracula's isolated home in Transylvania in order to sell him a house, unfortunately discovering along the way that he's a plague-carrying vampire.

Klaus Kinski. He's a weird hideous, twisted little man. My love affair with him is indeed more than rocky.  Sure he's famous for films like Aguirre: The Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo, but given that I haven't seen either of those, I have to judge him on what I do know about him: most of his work is B-Grade Horror not even worthy of Schlock status, including Hecklefest feature Creature and the worst movie I've EVER seen, honest, Jack The Ripper. Still, I can safely say that this horrendous freak of a man is a pretty damn perfect match for the title role in a remake of Murnau's Nosferatu. Of the approximate 140 Dracula films that exist out there, this is certainly one that leads the charge.

Now, I'm definitely not a fan of unnecessary remakes, going so far as to say that they're one of my rage triggers, so Herzog's beast was already in the hole before it even began. But Nosferatu the Vampyre is indeed a worthy re-telling. This tale is both original by its own right while still serving to tribute Murnau's work, especially in its cinematography. Every iconic scene from Nosferatu: Symphony of Horror is shot in a similar fashion with very few changes: Harker's first dinner with Dracula where he nicks his thumb while cutting bread, Nosferatu creeping across the deck of his ship, or when Nosferatu drinks maiden's blood. The welcome original scenes include Dracula's castle and conversations he has with Jonathan Harker, focus on the townsfolk as they succumb to plague and beautiful shots of Dracula running around streets and squares empty but for hoards of plague rats, not to mention a fifth act with so many changes than the gives us an ending full of surprises.

Of course, I need mention Renfield, as played by Roland Topor, who has a most infectious titter of madness, and is a wonderful addition to this cast of crazies.

Your wife... she has a lovely...Sternocleidomastoid
Your wife... she has a lovely...Sternocleidomastoid

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 9 Script: 7 Plot: 8 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 80% (A Retelling That Hits the Heart)

After seeing Tim Roth in Invincible, this is the second film I've seen of Herzog's, and knowing what I do about his dramatic filmmaking techniques, I'm certainly looking forward to more explorations of this man's works, though I suspect it's be a hard sell getting something as good as this creepy vampire tale.

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Dude - You HAVE to see Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, OK?

I will for 2 reasons:

I have a good feeling that Aguirre is going to change my life a little

They're both on The List

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