Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you most are likely familiar with this image through one of its parodies or homages over the decades. One of the most influential horror films of all time, F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu is a classic of the silent cinema era that keeps finding new audiences to this day. I’ve seen it countless times in the theater with live music accompaniment, and it inspired Werner Herzog’s remake in 1979, as well as the darkly comic fictional behind the scenes movie Shadow of the Vampire starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe in 2000. If you haven’t seen them I highly recommend all three for varying reasons. Especially Shadow of the Vampire.
Nosferatu is the story of real estate agent Thomas Hutter, who on the orders of his employer goes to Transylvania to visit a new client, the mysterious Count Orlock. While trying to interest him in a house, despite the warnings of the local peasants, Orlock instead becomes obsessed with Hutter’s wife Ellen. After bringing Orlock to Bremen via boat, the crew is found dead and mostly devoured, and as mysterious deaths start adding up Hutter begins to wonder what Orlock really is.
An unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s most famous novel, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror) was Murnau’s troubled 1922 German expressionist masterpiece that was almost sued out of existence by the Stoker estate. Luckily a few copies remained unscathed, and the highly effective and visually stunning film has gone on to inspire and influence generations of filmmakers.
Like Robert Eggers, this year’s Best Director U.S. Dramatic prize recipient at Sundance for his film The Witch. According to Deadline, Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 has set up a thus far untitled remake with Eggers set to direct and Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen producing. This time as a talkie I’m guessing. The word out of Sundance is that The Witch is an effectively terrifying film with plenty of moody style, atmosphere, and tension, and it sounds as if Eggers would be a great fit, even if I for one feel this remake is unnecessary at best.
The original Nosferatu is in the public domain, so it is quite easy to find on DVD, and well worth the purchase, but I recommend seeing it on the big screen if possible. Like this showing with live accompaniment in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this one in Victoria, Texas, or any of the others happening around the US this year.
The Witch will see wide release later this year, so we can finally see what the hype is about.
UPDATE – Here’s the cast and Eggers talking about The Witch courtesy of Variety.