"I'd like some makeup."--Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) "Well, you don't get any."
"How dare you destroy my photographer! Why not the script girl'"--Murnau to Schreck "I'll eat her later."
"I will finish my picture!"--Murnau "This is hardly your picture any longer."
"If it's not in frame, it doesn't exist."
"I think we have it."
- Murnau as he finishes the last reel of the film
Premiere - 12/01/2000
"...A movie lover's movie....Dafoe's portrayal of vampire Schreck is remarkable -- frightening and funny and completely sui generis..."
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 12/01/2000
"...[A] stylish pastiche....[Dafoe] gives a breathtaking performance..."
Entertainment Weekly - 01/12/2001
"...[A] delicious premise....[Dafoe's] exciting performance shades terrifying thirst with poignant, century-old tristesse..." -- Rating: B+
Sight and Sound - 02/01/2001
"...SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE stands witness to the enduring iconic potency of the great classics of the horror genre..."
Los Angeles Times - 12/29/2000
"...Dafoe's Schreck combines crazy dignity, towering presence and an unstoppable blood lust to create the kind of presence you just don't see every day..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 01/26/2001
"...The movie does an uncanny job of re-creating the visual feel of Murnau's film....The supporting cast is a curiously, intriguingly mixed bag..."
E. Elias Mehrige's SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE explores the fictional premise that the star of director F.W. Murnau's 1922 German expressionist horror film, NOSFERATU, was an actual vampire. When the dictatorial Murnau (John Malkovich) sets about filming his monster masterpiece, he makes a Faustian deal and enlists the grotesque, reclusive Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) to play the rodentlike Count Orlok. Schreck proceeds to both horrify and fascinate the unwitting cast and crew---including producer Albin Grau (Udo Kier), actor Gustav von Wangenheim (Eddie Izzard), and actress Greta Schroeder (Catherine McCormack)--who, at first, believe Schreck is merely an eccentric actor. As the production continues, however, mysterious accidents and deaths begin to reveal why Schreck never gets any makeup.
From its lavish opening sequence to Murnau's filming of the final scene, Mehrige's movie serves as a tribute not only to the original NOSFERATU but to the art of cinema itself. Because Murnau's project is a silent film, the overbearing director can coax and shout at his actors during the takes, making for some cleverly comical scenes. Although Malkovich, Izzard, and Kier are excellent in their roles, SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE could simply not exist without Dafoe's hideous and hilarious performance, which ranks among the finest of the versatile actor's career.
Black Comedy |
Silent Films |
Theatrical Release |
Theatrical release: December 29, 2000. Expanded release: JANUARY 19, 2001 Wide release: JANUARY 26, 2001
SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE premiered at the Director's Fortnight of the Cannes International Film Festival 2000.
Filmed on location in Luxembourg.
SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE is director E. Elias Mehrige's second film, released almost 10 years after his first feature, BEGOTTEN.
The film's opening credit sequence features artwork by British illustrator John Goodinson. The images reveal the influences of cubism, art deco, and expressionism.
In a press release for the film, Willem Dafoe commented, "The most important research tool was the footage. The only thing I could find out about Max was that a biographer of Murnau said he was 'an actor of no distinction.' But the script was very strong, and we had the actual NOSFERATU film as a kind of touchstone and base. So much had to wait until I got into the prosthetic (the makeup). I didn't just have extreme makeup, but also a costume that was restricting. The shoes made me walk a particular way. The padding in the clothes also made me walk a particular way. It was great because it's a huge mask which frees you up so much."
Willem Dafoe was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association voted Dafoe Best Supporting Actor of 2000 for his performance.