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Shadow of the Vampire

3.8 out of 5 stars 256 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Cary Elwes. It's a vampire flick to die for! Acclaimed Expressionist filmmaker F.W. Murnau hires method actor Max Schreck to play Count Orlock for the film Nosferatu in this devlish, fictionalization of events. 2000/color-b&w/91 min/R/widescreen.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack
  • Directors: E. Elias Merhige
  • Writers: Steven Katz
  • Producers: Alan Howden, Jean-Claude Schlim, Jeff Levine, Jimmy de Brabant, Nicolas Cage
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: June 17, 2003
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000092T3U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,577 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shadow of the Vampire" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
As one who would rather pick through dusty attics than the *New Arrivals!* section of Blockbuster for a film to watch, this for me was a rare treat. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in a theatre with other people who had seen, or at least heard of, FF Murnau's wonderfully creepy film.
With the double whammy of being black and white and silent, the film might be at Blockbuster, maybe one copy, but probably a cheap one, badly reproduced, just reinforcing people's stereotyping of silent films. I hope Shadow of the Vampire keeps rental copies of Nosferatu hopping.
And it just may, because it's a great film. Max Shreck, the actor playing the Nosferatu, is a real vampire. FF Murnau is a symbolic bloodsucker, slurping his actors dry, thinking only of the film.
In addition to being a great vampire film, this is a great period piece. Sometimes 21st century audiences need reminding that even though Nosferatu is set in Victorian times, it was made in the 1920's. I assume the Victorian atmosphere is well done, just because I don't see any evidence of 1922. At any rate, an era that is viewed as innocent by both us in 2001, and the cast of the film in 1922 is recreated. This is important, because the 20's themselves were a not-so-innocent time. So we have a period piece within a period piece, smooth and fascinating.
The atmospheric effect of the film is so good, I wish the cameraman would give lessons. The color of the film is wonderful. Although gore is restrained, the entire film looks as though it was shot through a vial of blood. There is a creepiness, but not the sort that you feel at a space alien or slasher movie, waiting for the moment that the monster is finally shown in full view.
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Format: DVD
SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE belongs to a curious subgenre of horror cinema: dramatized speculations on the inspirations of true-life horror artists. THE SPECTRE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE told a wildly fictionalized account of splattery tragedies that would inform Poe's work. GOTHIC similarly dramatized a night of debauchery suffered by Mary Shelley that would inspire her FRANKENSTEIN. GODS AND MONSTERS fictionalized the final weeks of James Whale's retirement, still haunted by the personal demons informing BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN: World War One's trench warfare and Britain's class system.

Of the above films, GOD AND MONSTERS hews nearest historic facts, whereas SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE veers to the opposite extreme, tossing aside history in a brilliantly imaginative, revisionist retelling of the making of F.W. Murnau's classic vampire film, NOSFERATU (1922).

In NOSFERATU, German character actor Max Schreck played the vampire, Count Orlock. So compelling was Schreck as Orlock, and so completely did he subsume himself in the roll, that his career was destroyed by subsequent typecasting. (A common risk for actors, one that ended the career of Karen Lynn Gorney after SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER). SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE posits that the reason for Schreck's compelling performance was that ... it was no performance. Schreck was a vampire, and his "makeup" was his real face.

It's an intriguing idea, sublimely executed. SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE opens with Murnau (played by John Malkovich), shooting his final scene in Germany, without Orlock. No one on his set knows yet who will play Orlock. Murnau informs them that he's found an obscure Method actor who's craft requires him to always be "in character.
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2 Comments 36 of 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE is an amazing film. It operates on three separate levels. On one level it is a story of a filmmaker, F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich), obsessed with his own ambition and vision. He is remaking the Dracula legend, changing the name of the vampire to Count Orlock. His film will be called 'Nosferatu'. He has hired the 'ultimate method actor' named Max Schreck to play his vampire. Schreck is said to get into character and stay there, only wanting to be filmed at night and only responding to the name 'Count Orlock'. But as filming progresses, the truth becomes clearer and clearer... Schreck really IS a vampire, agreeing to star in Murnau's film in exchange for the chance to dine on the leading lady. It's a delicious concept, even more so after you've seen the classic, silent original. It's easier to believe that Schreck was some kind of monster then it was to believe he was simply an actor in makeup. That's how effective Schreck's performance in the 1922 German film is. The second level of the film is more familiar. It is a horror film. It has all the elements of a vampire film and it acts on all of them, actually reaching a degree of creepiness that you wouldn't expect from a film this (excuse the phrase) 'artsy'. And finally, SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE is a seething satire, one where the lead actor cannabalizes the cast and crew to get what he wants and the director is so focused on his vision that he ignores the fact that the people around him are falling ill, they are merely meat puppets (Hitchcock and Kubrick would have been proud). This is a fun little film, with aspirations towards greatness that it all but reaches. The production design and brilliant cinematography allow for an accurate reproduction of the settings of the 1922 film.Read more ›
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