Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Some ideas just seem to good to be true but here’s one for our viewing pleasure from writer Steven Katz and director E. Elias Merhige. In true “what if” fashion let’s assume that F.W. Murnau actually found a real life vampire to play an actor named Max Schreck to play the lead character Count Orlok in Nosferatu. Sounds like a great idea to me and if you haven’t seen this little gem, go get a copy.
John Malkovich stars here as an obsessed Murnau who will do whatever he has to in order to film a pirated version of Dracula including keeping his lead actor happy by turning a blind eye to his feeding frenzies. In real life we know that Murnau never had the rights to film Stokers novel and the widow Stoker sued to have all prints of the film destroyed which proved impossible over time. Willem Dafoe appears here in an Oscar nominated performance as the star of the silent film who has a hunger for script girls and the leading lady with the beautiful neck. Cult film favorite and former screen Dracula Udo Kier appears here as co-director alongside Malkovich as does familiar face Cary Elwes.
This film is really a must see if you are a fan of the original 1922 vampire classic and makes a great double feature with the black and white silent thriller. It’s actually produced by Nicolas Cage which should come as no surprise as he has been known to dabble in vampire films early in his career. The film is really a black comedy with Malkovich chewing the scenery and Dafoe playing it creepy as they go in circles trying to get what they want by using the other. This is an obvious choice for playing in the art house circuit and I don’t believe the film really got much of a major release or campaign behind it which is unfortunate as it’s a nice window into a parallel universe of cinema history.