Monday, 7 May 2012

Nosferatu the Vampyre

"Nosferatu the Vampyre" or "Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht" auf Deutsch (1979, Werner Herzog, Gaumont) is the West German remake of the 1922 classic "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens". Naturally, it is based on "Dracula" by Bram Stoker.

The Nosferatu, Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski), would beat any Twi-shite sucker anyday. He's one weird, mean, ugly dude. In fact, he's so clearly not-human, I really do not understand why Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz), who has been sent to Dracula's castle in the Carpathian Mountains to finalise an estate deal, would even enter the castle upon seeing the Count. But I suppose, had Jonathan shown more sense, or listened to the cryptic, crazy town people, we would not have much of a story now, would we?

Jonathan leaves his wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) behind in Wismar, Germany to go on his journey to Romania, and she soon becomes worried for his safety.

I do enjoy Roland Topor's rendition of Renfield. Renfield is such a gloriously slimey little worm in all versions of Stoker's fabulous tale, but Topor's crazy laughs and manic eyes really bring the character to life!

Some of the scenes are very haunting and well put together, although being quite an old fashioned movie, I feel that it does not flow quite as well as some other versions of Dracula. The use of shadows seen in all good versions of Dracula, is again captured effectively. However, if you don't like rats, keep away from this film!

Herzog makes good use of the tense, slow moving Nosferatu, especially in the infamous bedroom scene. As I'm now watching as a woman rather than a child, I was struck for the first time at how rapey this scene truly is. Very scary!

Dracula is both monstrous and melancholly.. You kind of feel for the guy...

I think by today's standards you really can't expect to be scared by this film, but it's certainly creepy. The special effects are both minimal and effective, and the makeup is fab!

The Plague and rats (as I mentioned) are recurring themes in this film, and this version really uses the boat journey of Dracula to its full effect! I do love a nice ghost ship.

Lucy's character is a bit hollow, I feel, but again she's not the main crux of the story, and the film carries itself.

Beautiful scenes, clever cinematography and an artful feel, definitely make "Nosferatu The Vampyre" worth having in your collection if you enjoy creaky ol' horrors or a Dracula aficionado.

Also, it's available dubbed into English (dubbed well, might I add), so no subtitles! Hurrah!

(Picture: Werner Herzog Filmproduktion)