It’s the 125th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s trip to Whitby Cathedral which inspired his book Dracula. Lucky for us F. W Murnau, the director of Nosferatu, did not have to destroy the film despite the Bram Stoker estate suing him for copyright. While names were changed so Count Dracula is changed to Count Orlok, Nosferatu was in fact the first adaptation of the famous vampire story.
Thomas Hutter is the estate agent who travels to a castle in the Carpathian mountains to sell a property to the count whose name cannot be mentioned without a deathly silence descending on the locals. The towering yet gaunt 6’ 3” frame of Max Schreck – whose name literally means ‘fear’ in German plays Count Orlok. With his menacing rat-like face and spiky fingers he prowls round his castle feasting on the blood of his naïve visitor while he sleeps, all the while casting looming shadows and ominous silhouettes. Hutter is overcome by strange sensations and becomes increasingly fractious but diligently stays to see through the transaction. He returns to his beloved in North Germany who has researched that the only way to end the curse that has beset their town with the arrival of the count is to sacrifice herself to this evil, blood sucking vampire which she dutifully does.
My review originally appeared in Vulture Hound magazine.