ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Movie Review - Shadow of the Vampire (2000 - United States)

Updated on May 29, 2012

Hilarious, creepy and thought provoking--this film has it all!

The concept behind this wonderful, witty and scary movie is as audacious as it is ambitious: Retell the story of the troubled production of F.W. Murnau’s 1921 classic silent film, Nosferatu , with the added touch of proposing that Murnau cast an actual vampire rather than the credited actor, Max Schreck, as Graf Orlok, aka Nosferatu. The vampire’s payment for filling the role? Well, that would be the film’s winsome leading lady, Greta Schröder. During production, however, the vampire has a few appetizers, resulting in the loss of crew members, yet the fictional Murnau’s explanation of the oddity of having a vampire on the set—that he is a method actor who is so into the role that he refuses to appear out of makeup and character—is believed by the cast and crew.


The story behind the story

In reality, the making of Nosferatu was indeed fraught with all sorts of difficulties, from the technical challenges presented by Murnau’s insistence on employing groundbreaking camera and lighting methods, to legal barriers imposed by the widow of Dracula author Bram Stoker, who made repeated attempts to shut down production of the picture over copyright infringement, to rumors that Max Schreck was indeed not Max Schreck. Because the word “schreck” means “terror," there was widespread popular suspicion that he was actually Alfred Abel, a better-known German actor, working under a pseudonym and with the cloak of the Nosferatu makeup. This wasn’t true—Max Schreck did indeed exist and was a respected stage actor before entering films with Nosferatu —but the rumors that swirled around the film’s production no doubt helped inspire Steven Katz, who wrote the screenplay for Shadow of the Vampire.

Watch this terrific movie:


All of those undercurrents twine through Shadow of the Vampire, which pays homage to Murnau and his terrific film while at the same time having great fun with a scary concept. Both John Malkovich as director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck/the vampire, are remarkable, walking the thin, silken line between horror and comedy with utter grace. Daffoe in makeup as Max Schreck looks so much like Max Schreck in makeup as Nosferatu that when footage from the silent film are cut into the newer one, it is a completely seamless transition. Adding to the wonder of this picture is the gorgeous set design, which brings the world of cinematography in 1921 and Nosferatu back to life. Throughout, there are wonderful, witty little tidbits that break the tension of a story that is not in any way a parody of a horror film—make no mistake about it, Shadow of the Vampire is, like Nosferatu, is the real deal.

Watch the trailer for Shadow of a Vampire:

It is not a prerequisite that you watch Nosferatu in order to enjoy Shadow of the Vampire, but putting the two on a double bill is just about the perfect way to introduce yourself not only to Murnau—one of film’s greatest innovators—but to the fascinating history of film.

Shadow of the Vampire is one of my favorite movies of all time. I recommend it as highly as I can any picture—enjoy!

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.


Shadow of the Vampire:

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror

Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Directed By: E. Elias Merhige

Written By: Steven Katz

In Theaters: Dec 29, 2000 Wide

On DVD: May 29, 2001

Box Office: $7.5M

Distributed By: Lions Gate Releasing


John Malkovich - Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau

Willem Dafoe - Max Schreck

Udo Kier - Albin Grau

Cary Elwes - Fritz Arno Wagner

Catherine McCormack - Greta Schröder

Eddie Izzard - Gustav von Wangenhein


You might also enjoy these great movies to watch right now:

Have you seen Nosferatu, the 1922 film that inspired Shadow of the Vampire?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)