Shadow of the Vampire

“Perfect movie for Halloween weekend for our little family here at the Cave of Wonders. Lestat was purring on my lap and Nosferatu was nearby as well. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was getting confused by hearing his name repeated on the screen. He didn’t seem to notice. Maybe because I tend to call him Fehr more than Nosferatu (see, cause it’s Nos-FEHR-atu, quite a mouthful otherwise, esp when you add in his middle name Sylar to the end of that).

This is a movie I’d meant to see for years. It’s been on my wishlists, and I’d occassionally come across a DVD, but for whatever reason would pass. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood that day or maybe I was already buying a stack of more interesting ones. But good news, it just got added to Netflix. Or at least I think it was recent because I’m sure I would have searched for it when I was first setting up my queues.

Shadow of the Vampire is a fictional account of the filming of Nosferatu. As we all know, Nosferatu was an old silent movie that was basically Dracula, but for copyright reasons the names were changed. It would have been the first time that master vamp had appeared on screen. There was a rumor that Max Schreck, the actor who played Count Orlock (guess who he’s a rip off of) was actually a vampire, which is why he was so pitch perfect in the role. This movie takes that idea and has it play out. The director actually knows the actor’s secret and has made a deal with him to appear in the movie.

I can’t believe it took me so long to see this. The film itself might have ebbed and flowed a bit, but the performances were so good. I have never seen anything like Willem DaFoe as Schreck/Orlock. I loved him so so much, and it made me proud to have a cat named after his character. Combination of creepy and slightly doofy that would have you let your guard down until he’d do something to scare the living daylights out of you. The makeup job they did on him is fantastic, and he fully embodied the role like, well yeah, nothing I’d ever seen. Got himself an Oscar nomination for it too (he lost to Benicio for Traffic), AND I’m told by IMDB that this performance scored him his Green Goblin role. Also in the cast, we’ve got John Malkovich as the director. Eddie Izzard is in there too as the actor who plays the Harker character, and there’s Cary Elwes as a replacement photographer.

Actually, it is kinda interesting to go behind the scenes of a silent (even if they’re not real scenes). Seeing the director essentially narrate the action as it happens is kinda cool, and so different from how things are done nowadays. Back around the time I got the kitty, I did try and watch the original Nosferatu. It was only right. The day I brought Lestat home, I sat her down for Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned before starting a Buffy marathon. So I tried to do the same for little Nosferatu. Problem was, I couldn’t really get into the film. The score was to blame. The copy I had came with two audio options: full orchestration or organ only. I’m not too savvy about music, but even I could tell the orchestration was just BAD. Nails on chalkboard I couldn’t deal with. The organ sound fit better, but you can only listen to straight organ for so long. I remember I kept falling asleep and waking up again with that organ haunting my dreams until I’d have to rewind to catch up on what I’d slept thru, but would doze off again. I eventually gave up on the rewinding and just made sure it played thru. Netflix did just add it. Maybe I should check that out soon and hope it has better music than my cheap-o DVD.”

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