Nosferatu the Vampyre ★★★★

A Beautifully Gothic Piece of Western German Cinema


For starters, this is a Werner Herzog picture first and foremost. Yes, this is one of the best adaptations of classic horror and one of the only instances where it’s not only exceptional as a remake but almost on par with the original, but the film belongs to Herzog first.

  All the classic tropes are there; the lingering static shots vs the swooping cinematography; the dark mood and atmosphere; the haunting chants of a traditional choir; all the aspects make Herzog the perfect candidate to bring Count Dracula back from a coffin that arguably never should have been cradled with in the first place.

  What makes Nosferatu ‘79 such a gem is that it does complete justice to the 1922 original and only tacks on new features when needed. The film gives the old gothic favorite an upgrade while keeping the brooding atmosphere the same. The cinematography is at a wider scope (and shot in glorious color); the soundtrack is more skin crawling and the German actors fit like a glove. The film works because rather than diminish the quality of the original, it gives leeway as to why we hold it on such a high pedestal.

  And honestly, bold as it may sound, this may be the closest the world will ever get to being nearly on par with the original horror classic. Of course you can’t quite touch the original but rather than sort of give it a bigger blockbuster feel (like ‘92’s Dracula), the film sticks to its roots being quiet, cold, desolate, dark and moody.

  Nosferatu is easily one of the most intriguing takes on the Dracula character and a filmmaker as skilled as Herzog brings him to life in a way that could only be done by someone of this caliber. Of course the irony of this being very much so a Herzog piece over a horror piece is that it’s not Herzog’s best work. That said, the film establishes itself well enough as both a notable building block in an auteur’s career and as an artistic portrayal of gothic horror.