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Quick Daily Review #265: Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu BoxNosferatu (1922)
Starring: Max Schreck, Greta Schröder, Ruth Landshoff
Director: F.W. Murnau
Genre(s): Horror
Released: March 4, 1922
MPAA Rating: PG

 

While far be it from me to condone direct theft/plagiarism, I will say here, that even though this movie was a direct rip-off of Bram Stroker’s Dracula, as a motion picture, it remains superior to any subsequent attempt to film the Dracula story, even to this day.

This is another review from the big 50-pack horror movie box set I bought a few weeks back. This was one the wife insisted on, and I could tell from the smile on her face that she enjoyed this one quite a bit.

How times change, as 90 years and some change ago, I imagine nobody was smiling their way through this one.

Nosferatu is still the king of all vampire movies for me because of its complete and total lack of self-aware irony or any attempt at shtick. Audiences in 1922 didn’t have Count Chocula and a million other cartoons as a reference point for vampires. They didn’t even have Bella Legosi’s famous films yet, so this movie is just about the straight up terror of a cursed entity stalking his prey.

As Roger Ebert pointed out in his review of this movie, Nosferatu also deserves praise as a great title also. As he wrote, “Say’ Dracula’, and you smile. Say ‘Nosferatu’ and you’ve swallowed a lemon”.

Max Schreck is the embodiment of creepiness here. Count Orlock would send a chill so far up Dracula’s spine that he would double-bolt all the doors at his Transylvania estate. His vampire isn’t charming or winsome in any way. He is a cursed, wretched monster who stalks the corner of the screen. The world he inhabits is equally off-kilter, as Murnau showed masterful touches in early uses of tilted angles and placing the main action off-center.

For a modern audience, this movie is more haunting and poetic than it is frightening (hence the wife’s constant smile) and that’s all right with me.

5 Stars

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About William McPherson (382 Articles)
Professional freelance writer, who also writes blogs, reviews, and assorted nonsense at www.vortexeffect.net
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