Willem Dafang
Shadow of the Vampire
Review by Ross Anthony

One long hypnotic demon-sketched sequence opens this dark drama/comedy. The year is 1921, legendary German director F.W. Murnau endeavors to create the most realistic Dracula (Nosferatu - in this case) movie ever made.

Towards this goal Murnau employs a real life vampire to play the part, but tells no one of this maneuver. Spooked actors and crew eventually "go down for the Count" (I do not apologize for that pun).

The result is a highbrow "Blair Witch" of the silent film era.

"Why would you want to act in a play when you can be in a film?" Murnau encourages his cast.

"The theatric audience gives me life, this thing (points at camera) takes it from me," his star retorts.

Audiences get a glimpse through the crank-cameras at the grainy sepia creation of yesteryear as the color bleeds from our view. Iris-in, it's a fine touch. I also enjoyed Willem Dafoe as the geriatric fangless vampire. He's so old he can't remember a myriad of things.

But the film never captures its audience. Malkovich, an unquestionably wonderful actor, offers little to a film realization that needed a whole lot of help. He sometimes breaks off into poetic prose that sounds profound, but ultimately falls empty.

In the end, it looks as though some big name actors opted to have a little diversion in an indie film, relaxing, goofing around, and poking fun at themselves.

  • Shadow of the Vampire. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Willem Dafoe, John Malkovich, Udo Kier, Eddie Izzard, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack.
  • Directed by E. Elias Merhige.
  • Written by Steven Catz.
  • Produced by Nicolas Cage, Jeff Levine at Saturn films. Released by Lions Gate.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:53:33 PDT