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3.6 out of 5 stars
Shadow Of The Vampire [2000] [DVD]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
'Shadow of the Vampire' is a great film, a must for any serious horror fan (or cineaste generally). I saw it in the cinema when it first came out and owned the original DVD (which I somehow lost), so I repurchased it via amazon from Discgiant.

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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The year is 1922. German director F.W.Murneau is filming his masterpiece, Nosferatu, based on the Dracula story. The film will be his masterpiece, and his drive for utter realism and the perfect picture knows no bounds. So far, so much historical fact. But what if...? The basic premise of this intriguing film is `what if Max Schreck, the actor hired to play Orlock, was really a vampire?'

This is an intriguing premise, which promises much and delivers more. `Shadow Of The Vampire' follows the troubled shooting of Nosferatu, with mysterious deaths and illnesses in the cast and crew. Schreck at first appears to be the ultimate method actor, never out of character, but we are slowly lead to suspect that there is a bit more to it than that. The build up of the character, and the peeling away of the layers until the truth is revealed is expertly done. The final denouement, where Murneau finally gets the realism he has been looking for, is thrilling, all the more so from the expert build up of the tension in the preceding 75 minutes.

John Malkovitch stars as the realism obsessed Murneau, a part he plays very well. I suspect that this is largely due to him being a very similar character in real life. Eddie Izzard is entertaining as the silent film star Gustav. The real star of the show though is Willem Dafoe, unrecognisable under his Oscar nominated makeup as Shreck/Orlock. As with the real Schreck in Nosferatu he manages to do so much with only expression and gesture. Just watching him rubbing his fingers fills one with real horror.

The edition under review is the 2002 Metronome version. This iis in 16:9 widescreen with what appears to be only stereo sound. The picture quality is very good. There are some interesting extras, looking at the make-up and behind the scenes footage. There is also an audio commentary from the director, though I've not heard this yet so cannot comment on it.

This is film is both creepy and fun. It serves as a perfect accompaniment to Nosferatu (which can be found here Nosferatu (Definitive Fully-restored version with original score) [Masters of Cinema] [1921] [DVD]), or as a stand alone. It will appeal to all fans of classic horror of the Gothic/Hammer style, and arthouse cinema. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2011
If you want special effects and blood and guts you will be disappointed. It's not even a very well constructed film. But I recently saw it by chance and if you want to feel as though you have met the real Dracula (or rather Count Orlock), this is the one. The part is played sublimely well by Willem Dafoe; and this together with the film's general mediocrity makes him stand apart from the film, and thereby (and I'm sure the irony is unintended)the most 'real' of all the characters. It is also of note that Orlock is the only character in the film with a sense of humour. I am no film buff and I do not normally bother to watch horror films but I know a good thing when I see it, and there is genius in this film.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2007
Be prepared to be haunted by such sinister questions before watching "Shadow of the Vampire": should filmmaking be considered an art or science?, what's the thin line between genius and lunacy?, what might be the complications of uncontrolled creativity? what threads have humans and vampires in common? wickedness, loneliness, voraciousness, monstrousness or something more we don't know?

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. At the end, the film fails to accomplish its grandiose philosophical ideals and comes off a mediocre Hollywood satire about a egocentric director, who is actually the shadow of the vampire, and a blood-thirsty star stealing his movie. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful viewing experience and captivating look at the dysfunctional ambitions. Worth a watch...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2012
Firstly, beware the recently reissued DVD by Second Sight, I know it's cheap but the picture quality is atrocious - washed out, pixillated - there's even a purple line running down the extreme left hand side for the duration of the movie. One of the worst transfers I've seen since the days of video back in the 80s.
Secondly, this is one huge missed opportunity of a movie - the idea is good, the cast is good, the director has talent (see his first feature Begotten for proof) however this film is a mess. There's no sense of tone - what is it? - a horror movie? a comedy? a historical snapshot? a character study of Murnau or Shrek? For me it succeeds at none of these aims and just drifts along squandering potential as it goes. Shame. Dig out the original or Herzogs magisterial remake and avoid this like the plague.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2014
Firstly why has no-one on here mentioned the terrible blu-ray picture ?? Everyone seems to mention dvd picture quality ??
Firstly this is 1080i and the worst blu-ray picture i have seen on a disc(I own about 300 blu-ray discs) - to me its like a dvd - no grain, no inky blacks, washed out picture - i could go on and on so please do not buy this - stick to the dvd which has the correct 1.85 aspect ratio too - this blu-ray has the 2.35 ratio so you they have cut the picture of the top and bottom aswell - it does 5.1 hd resolution audio in english which was the only good thing about it - a very dissapointing purchase :((((((
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
this film scares me like anything, it has a strange mystical quality to it tat not many films can grasp. of course i adore the 1922 nosferatu film more but this is certainly a good choice for a dark night. There are so many parts of this films that stand out that its best for you to watch it and judge for yourself, don't forget that its not real though.....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 August 2008
Willem Dafoe stars as the actor Max Shrek, playing Nosferatu; except he's not an actor he really is a vampire. That is the premise of this film. Its based on the 1921 classic silent movie and works on neally every level. As simple entertainment its thrilling and occasionally quite funny. On a deeper level, like most horror films it plays on our darkest fears and our primal instincts.

The acting from Dafoe and Malkovich is magical, and the supporting cast including Eddie Izzard, are very good.

Why doesn't it merit 5 stars. Well if you remove the long opening credit sequence and the end credits, the film actually comes in at under 80 minutes. It could have been fleshed out a little more (excuse the pun).

Still its a fine film that pays tribute to the original classic, and is classic all of its own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2009
I like this film on a few levels. First of all there's a lot of mystery surrounding `Nosferatu' and this film doesn't try to explain that, it adds to it. Making Schrek into a real vampire is a good idea and one which I think has been bandied around in myth before. I also think the ending is superb.

It is well directed and there are great performances especially from Willem Defoe, John Malkovich and Eddie Izzard, who adds to the comical side of the movie. There is also an attempt to explore the value of film as an art form which seems to be much more important to Murnau especially before the advent of talkies. If you're a `Nosferatu' fan then this is definitely worth a look.
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on 21 May 2013
Shadow of the Vampire is a superb film from start to finish.
It's chilling, eerie and needs a whole new box as it thinks outside everything else.

The plot is based of course on the infamous 1922 vampire horror Nosferatu- where we see the film being made by a young but wishful crew. The twist here though is that Nosferatu is really a vampire and hired by the films director to make the film feel genuine. In return he has made a deal with the vampire that he can kill some of the actors:actresses.

The film is full of dread, fear and even has some genuine comdey moments.
John Malkovich is his usual superb self, and Eddie Izzard gives a surprising role also.

But, but the standout here is of course Nosfertau, played incredibly by William Dafoe. It's as if Dafoe had studied his character all his life.

Where Shadow of the Vampire really succeeds though is that it is able to hold ones interest throughtout, has engaging characters and is quite simply an excellent horror film.

I would go as far as to say that it is the best horror film of the 2000s. No really it is. What other film can compete? The American market has been saturated with remakes, reboots and dead end young actors. The European market has gone all torture porn and the Asian market is too fixated in the ghosts.

This film just hits it bang on the head, and should be an essential purchase for any self respecting horror fan.

A glourious movie.
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