The Halloween Hit List: Nosferatu The Vampyre (1979)
THE HALLOWEEN HIT LIST
NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (1979)
Rated PG (Don’t let it fool you)
Written & Directed By Werner Herzog
The story of Count Dracula is a tale as old as time. Bram Stoker’s novel is not just a classic in its own right, but has seen its fair share of classic movie adaptations throughout the years due to its presence in the public domain. While perhaps the best known adaptation of Stoker’s source material is Universal’s 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi, the presence of Count Dracula on film started all the way back in 1922 with F.W. Murnau’s silent classic Nosferatu. Over five decades later another German filmmaker would remake Murnau’s classic, resulting in 1979’s Nosferatu The Vampyre. For my money, it’s the greatest horror remake of all-time.
Starring the ever-controversial Klaus Kinski as the titular Count, Herzog’s remake embraces both Murnau’s original and Stoker’s novel, resulting in a film confection that has truly stood the test of time. The atmosphere is potent, the cinematography is stunning, and the performances are all top notch. Herzog’s use of specific gothic imagery is the best I’ve ever seen, with coffins and crucifixes galore, not to mention the foreboding presence of the Count’s castle home. Not only is Nosferatu The Vampyre a great adaptation of the Dracula myth and in turn a great remake, it is also an undeniably great film. I’ve always enjoyed horror that has the ability to get under your skin without outwardly trying to terrify you, and with Herzog at the helm Nosferatu is one such horror film that haunts you with its terrifying subtleties.
Nosferatu The Vampyre not only ranks as my favorite all-time horror remake, but it is also one of my favorite films of all-time period. When it comes to telling Count Dracula’s tale, in Werner Herzog I trust.
Is it scary? Yes. With its gothic setting and consistently creepy imagery, Herzog makes sure your nerves are on high alert throughout.
What’s the atmosphere like? What sets Herzog’s film apart from the other Dracula adaptations is its very distinct atmosphere. While Universal favored typical studio sets, Herzog places his Count in real European settings and the film is all the more unsettling for it. A little realism goes a long way.
Why does it belong on The Halloween Hit List? Nosferatu The Vampyre belongs here because if you’re not a cinephile you’re probably not aware of this particular Dracula adaptation and I simply can not live with that. It’s the best film adaptation of Stoker’s original story and it’s made by a filmmaker of the highest order. It has stirring performances, beautiful cinematography, and is the perfect kind of film to get you in the mood for Halloween. It is not action-packed, but it doesn’t need to be with atmosphere this unsettling. Please, I beg you. Bite in to Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu The Vampyre.