- Actors: John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack
- Directors: E. Elias Merhige
- Writers: Steven Katz
- Producers: Alan Howden, Jean-Claude Schlim, Jeff Levine, Jimmy de Brabant, Nicolas Cage
- Format: VHS
- Language: English, German
- Classification: 15
- Studio: Metrodome
- VHS Release Date: 28 Jan. 2002
- Run Time: 91 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B00005KH4S
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,415 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
Shadow Of The Vampire [VHS] 
Genius film director F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) is determined to complete the photography on his latest production, the soon-to-be classic vampire movie 'Nosferatu', but the erratic behaviour of leading man Max Shreck (Willem Dafoe) keeps causing problems. Shreck's commitment to the role of the vampire is such that he is never out of character, and this is causing worries among the cast and crew. Murnau has offered Shreck the neck of the leading lady (Catherine McCormack) if he delivers one of the best performances ever, but Shreck's bloodlust is such that he might not be able to wait until the shoot is over.
Shadow of the Vampire is a film full of good ideas that are only partially developed. Clever, engaging, and boosted by the sublime casting of Willem Dafoe as Nosferatu "actor" Max Schreck, its premise is ripe with possibilities but the movie's too slight to register much impact: characters remain achingly underdeveloped and the whole lacks a sense of pace or structure. What's left, however, is enough for anyone to get their teeth into: the delightful performances from a sterling cast and director E Elias Merhige's affectionately tongue-in-cheek homage to a landmark of German silent cinema. John Malkovich is aptly loony as the eccentric director FW Murnau, whose passion in filming the 1922 classic Nosferatu leads to the extreme casting of Schreck as the vampire, a vision of evil who, in this movie's delightfully twisted imagination, actually is a vampire, sucking the blood of cast and crew members who've dismissed Schreck as an over-zealous method actor.
As these on-set maladies and "accidents" continue, Schreck wields greater control over Murnau, who descends into a kind of obsessive art-for-art's-sake madness until diva co-star Greta Schroeder (Catherine McCormack, doing wonderful work) is served up as the actor's ultimate motivation. Merhige and his actors (including Cary Elwes, as intrepid cameraman Fritz Wagner) have great fun with this ghastly escapade, and the humour is kept delicately subtle to balance the movie's artistic aspirations. To that end, Dafoe is just right, his bald pate and gaunt features a perfect match for the mysterious Schreck, his grimace and talon-like fingers suggesting a human vulture on the prowl. Likewise, the re-creation of Nosferatu's expressionist style is both fanciful and brilliantly authentic. Too bad, then, that this movie suffers from a case of vampiric anaemia, with budgetary shortcomings apparently the cause of at least some of its shortcomings; if Shadow of the Vampire shared the depth and richness of, say, Ed Wood, it might have been a cult classic for the ages. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com --This text refers to the DVD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The edition I'm writing about here is the Metrodrome one, ASIN barcode 5055002550386. It has the WORST trasnfer I've ever seen on a contemporary feature film, so I'm wondering if Discgiant are supplying a genuine product. DON'T BUY THIS EDITION - as I said, having owned the original DVD and seen it on celluloid in a cinema, I was shocked by the dreadful picture quality.
The premise of the film is based on the story of two tortured souls: one in human form, an obsessive and ambitious director who will sacrifice his cast and crew to "science" for the sake of making history through his purely realistic work, Nosferatu. The other is an hybrid form seemingly a rodent-like actor with clicking long, green fingernails and scowling gutteral grunts, who skulks in a nocturnal pit where his only companions are rats and bats. Both are after his own immortality; the former feeds on souls, the latter feeds on blood.
Thanks to impeccable cinematography, the aura and ambiance of the film are dark and depressing. The film uses different cameras and angles very well. As a photographer, I must say that the use of lights, shadows and reflections enhance the intended effectiveness. Along with good close-ups, it mixes bright shots with shadowy darkness pretty well. Overtures from "Tristan and Isolde" & "The Flying Dutchman", combines exquisitely with the picture. But, putting all these positive elements aside, the beauty of the film has a lot to do with the top notch performances of Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich.
But..... The pacing is a little too slack; duration is too short; script is shallow and not strong as it should be; depends too much on stereotypes, and pushes the viewer too much, not allowing enough room for imagination.Read more ›
Casting John Malkovich as the great, and gay, director F W Murnau, who`s attempting to film Nosferatu in the sticks in twenties Germany, must have seemed a foolproof idea at the time, but Malko is (ironically) under-directed and allowed too many moments of sloppy acting, not to mention a wandering German accent that is more camp Chicago than gay Berlin.
Others in the cast fare better, such as Eddie Izzard as the film-within-the-film`s star, whose eyes are startled smudges in the `filmed` scenes. He is surprisingly restrained in one of his cleverest film perfromances to date.
But the reason to see this flawed yet fascinating film is the marvellous Willem Dafoe, an actor I`d see in almost anything. His Max Schreck - who turns out to be an actor who is a real vampire acting the part of the vampire Count Orlok - is both brilliant and hilarious, a sniffing, unhealthy cave dweller, whose `deal` with Murnau not to `interfere` with the rest of the cast he treats in cavalier fashion. Dafoe pulls out all the stops, though he never overdoes it - unlike Malkovich; give him an inch and he`ll always grab a mile.
There`s a very funny scene at night (naturally) when Orlok shoots the breeze with two of the crew, snatches from the air and munches greedily on a stray bat, and proceeds to get high on their bottle of hooch. This is a vampire with too much time on his hands.
Catherine McCormack is good as the appropriately vampish leading lady, with Cary Elwes excellent as the new cameraman brought in to replace the last one, who got it in the neck. There`s good work from Udo Kier, and the whole thing has an air of barely suppressed hilarity about it which is not really explored.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Was Max Shreck in the famous movie Nosferatu really a vampire?
This is the haunting premise of what promises to be a fascinating exploration of the idea. Read more
F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) is filming Nosferatu (1922), but isn't reclusive star Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) taking his role of the vampire way too seriously? Read morePublished 3 months ago by Spike Owen
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