Sunday, April 20, 2014

Second Best Vampire Film Ever?

Werner Herzog's Nosferatu

By David Luhrssen
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A cemetery could be filled with the ever-lengthening list of vampire movies, yet none have ever been as startling as German director F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent, Nosferatu. After 90 years, the film remains uncanny and unnerving. With his pointy ears and spindly fingers, Murnau’s aristocratic vampire, standing in for Count Dracula, is more extraterrestrial than an undead human.

One of the best vampire movies since Murnau’s Nosferatu is Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake. Herzog’s Nosferatu has been available on DVD for years but will be out next month for the first time on Blu-ray. In the bonus making-of feature shot during the production, Herzog speaks to the challenge of redoing “the most important film ever made in Germany.” His Nosferatu was meant as a link between the German Expressionist cinema of the 1920s and that country’s flourishing art house cinema of the ‘70s. “All my films come from pain,” he adds.

Aside from the gorgeous color cinematography and striking compositions characteristic of Herzog’s ‘70s films, Nosferatu rises on the strength of its star, Klaus Kinski. The German actor always brought the sharp glint of madness and danger to his roles and was ideally cast as a looming sexual predator whose polite veneer gives way easily to a lust for blood. Kinski’s ghostly white features are memorably framed against the pitch black of his castle’s interior, leaving an indelibly unsettling image.

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