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The greatest horror film of all! A long time ago in middle Europe, a decrepit, forbidding castle stood. Casting an ominous shadow over the townspeople who dare not look upon it, the unholy dwelling is home to one Count Orlok (Max Schreck), an undead night creature with a taste for human blood. Showcasing the extremely eerie Schreck, "Nosferatu" is the first screen adaptation of Bram Stoker's classic novel "Dracula," stylistically directed by the legendary F.W. Murnau. Now available in this gorgeous newly remastered and rescored by The Silent Orchestra in 5.1 audio.
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The director was sued for copyright by Bram Stoker's widow and most copies of the film were destroyed. Thankfully, enough survived intact so that we can view it today. The basic storyline from Stoker is intact, but there are a few changes that make this film worth viewing. For example, the time frame is set in the year 1838, rather than 1890 as in the Stoker novel. The Harkers live in Bremen Germany, rather than England.
In this film, the vampire does not have any wives which could have been effective. The rats that accompanied Nosferatu played a larger part in this film than in others, including a bit of low comedy when a warehouse worker is bitten on the foot. A rotund Reinfield capers about in a cartoonish manner,leering and sneering but this makes him seem all the MORE demented. The obligatory ride to the castle is RAPID to say the least, almost a "Keystone Kop" pace which makes it unintentionally funny. One sequence was done in an almost "X-ray" effect which could have been used more often. But the most eerie effect is Nosferatu's appearance. Lean and bald, with a mishapen skull and a lurching walk. His hands look like claws and his rat-like ears, a hooked nose, hollow eyes and sunken cheeks make a real impact. When he rises from his coffin, he's as rigid as a board. Unfortunatly, Harker comes across as a scatterbrained oaf and is totally useless in protecting Nina (Yes they changed her name)from the vampire. One scene in the castle has Harker childishly pulling a sheet over his head to protect himself from the approaching vampire. I was also disappointed by the limited part played by Van Helsing, Lucy Westerna and Jack Seward. Still, this tape is well worth having.The edition I bought came from Republic Studios and it has a HORRIBLE SOUNDTRACK. I MUTE IT.
For the more serious enthusiast, the 1-hour documentary on F.W. Murnau which focuses on the making of "Nosferatu" is particularly interesting as it carefully traces the steps taken by Murnau and his crew, going to the various locations where filming took place. I was surprised and fascinated to see that many buildings and even the eerie castle seen in the film still exist today, some hardly changed in 85 years. And for the real purists or Germans, the second disc in this set has all the original German intertitles to give us a good idea of how German audiences first experienced "Nosferatu" at its release in 1922. With all this additional background information, as well as interesting stills and artwork for the film and excerpts from other Murnau films, this set is invaluable for not only silent film collectors, but also for fans of the horror genre and Dracula and vampire stories in particular.