The infamous Nosferatu [1922] has been restored ready for re-release in all of its chillingly gothic glory. The grandfather of the vampire genre is back.

Nosferatu‘s UK theatrical run will open in selected cinemas nationwide on Friday October 25, 2013, just in time for Halloween, and will also feature as part of the BFI’s GOTHIC: The Dark Heart of Film which runs from 21st October 2013 – 31st January 2014. This year the BFI will take Britain back to darker times and thrill the nation by uncovering, as never before, the dark heart of film.

Before then it made its bow at Frightfest, and it’s no wonder they chose this silent masterpiece to be a part of the line up. One of the most chilling and iconic horror films of all time that surpasses the usual quick thrills and chills that modern cinema offers, instead creating a lasting imprint of darkness and popularity that has left its mark on almost every other vampire flick nearly 100 years after it was originally released.

nosferatu-max-schreck-1922_i-G-67-6720-I6MA100ZNosferatu is the ultimate form of expressionism channelling the gothic and the uncanny in a way that creates genuine terror with glimmers of beauty and dark romanticism.

Written and directed by F.W. Murnau the story focuses on Hutter, the estate agent who is assigned the task of consulting with the mysterious Count Orlok [Max Schrek]. The Count apparently wants to purchase a desolate house within the village. Hutter travels to the remote castle where Count Orlok is holed up ignoring silent stares and whispers from villagers when he mentions whom he is on his way to visit. After a failed attack on Hutter, Nosferatu descends on the village by ship in the hope of ravishing and feeding upon Hutter’s innocent young lover.

Whilst there is a shadow of plagiarism shrouded over this classic piece of cinema – [it was an unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula] – it is fair to point out that it was perhaps more precisely a homage rather than a rip off. It is also worth highlighting that since Nosferatu many horror directors and writers have followed in F.W. Murnau’s footsteps by taking the classic story of ‘Dracula’ and twisting it to make something new.

The difference with Count Orlok in comparison to many modern vampires is the fact that he has kept the truly ghoulish and supernatural elements that say The Cullens or The Lost Boys lack.

Nosferatu is the first cinematic story of Dracula before he became human-like, or a ‘day walker’, or even worse, sparkly. Before he became a heartthrob or able to control his feeding frenzy by snacking on woodland creatures. It’s not a clichéd, ironical nod to the genre that we so often get nowadays – instead it is vampirism in its rightfully gothic guise.

With his grasping claws, pointed front-facing-fangs, bald bonce and white cadaverous features, Count Orlock, played by the hideous Max Schreck, creeps through Murnau’s archetypal silent imagery with a mesmerising authority that retains a surprising amount of tension. The slow creeping shadow of Count Orlock is the true stuff of nightmares. Max Schreck embodies the most terrifying incarnation of the vampire character to date.

It’s understandable why many viewers by today’s desensitised standards may dismiss Nosferatu as corny or lack lustre but its eerie and creeping atmosphere conjures a persistent sense of dread and gloom, which is derived from the incredible POV camera shots, use of shadow and creepy score, making it more haunting than frightening.

About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing – although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.