It was fascinating watching the 1922 vampire film Nosferatu just to see how much it has influenced horror films in the near 100 years since it was made. Interestingly, while it’s based on Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, it isn’t an “authorized” adaptation, so changes were made in an attempt to avoid legal troubles. And I’m glad they were, because it is a blueprint for classic horror conventions.
Obviously, actor Max Schreck’s freaky look (most of it natural) was the inspiration for the vampire in the 1979 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, a movie I discuss in length in another post. Both are still my favorite gruesome looking vampires of all time, followed by the vampire from the Subspecies series.
And speaking of, it is so clear that Subspecies also extracted the creepiest aspects of Nosferatu, particularly the long fingers and eerie as hell approaching shadow I raved over in my Subspecies blog!
Young real estate agent Hutter’s trip to Nosferatu’s castle through phantom lands and the trepidation of locals at an inn during his journey are recalled in An American Werewolf in London. Fright Night extracts from the plot of the vampire moving in next door (and the “tension” between male lead, vampire, and the woman in both their lives…).
There’s even the weird, creepy “Igor”-like assistant/servant archetype. And apparently, Nosferatu marks the first time a vampire is killed by sunlight; he kind of disappears and leaves behind a little puff of smoke (which means my novel Combustion is totally derivative of Nosferatu!). The one thing I did note, however, is that Nosferatu has a reflection when he stands in front of a mirror!
I had never seen the film all the way through and realized that I’ve only seen the “best parts” (mostly in the Queen and David Bowie “Under Pressure” video). I was also shocked the movie was an hour and a half long. The FF button fixed that mighty fast! Seriously, it’s a silent film, so as long as you can read the title cards quickly, it needs the speed up. I simply watched real time during the Max Schreck vampire scenes to get the full creep factor. Although, back then, musical cues weren’t what they are now. I would love to see a trimmed version of the movie (cutting out all the “travel” filler) with a contemporary horror score during the Nosferatu appearances.
Modern viewers criticize unclear plot points (I’ll give them that) and overacting (seeming to not understand anything about silent film necessities or the dawn of the celluloid medium), but you really have to just appreciate the gothic aspects of such an old film and its impact on the horror genre: coffins, rats, spiders, blood sucking, towns locked up tight at night, haunted boats, and virtuous female sacrifices. And let’s not forget, monsters outside bedroom doors and windows at night, one of my biggest fears.