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An old Gothic cathedral, built over a mass grave, develops strange powers which trap a number of people inside with ghosts from a 12th Century massacre seeking to resurrect an ancient demon from the bowels of the Earth.
Feodor Chaliapin Jr.
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Jonathan Harker is sent away to Count Dracula's castle to sell him a house in Varna, where Jonathan lives. But Count Dracula is a vampire, an undead ghoul living off of men's blood. Inspired by a photograph of Lucy Harker, Jonathan's wife, Dracula moves to Varna, bringing with him death and plague... An unusually contemplative version of Dracula, in which the vampire bears the curse of not being able to get old and die. Written by
It was only recently that I finally got to experience a Werner Herzog film. And I say experience because you don't just watch a Werner Herzog film, you experience it. Otherwordly images will appear on the screen whisking you away to strange unusual worlds. When I first saw Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: The Wrath of God I was spellbound. I was astounded at how much Herzog could evoke while relying solely on the grandness of his visuals. So when I decided to finally see Werner Herzogs remake of F.W. Murnaus classic silent film Nosferatu, I knew I was in for something special. And I was. Simply put, this is one of the finest vampire movies ever made.
The story is one every horror fan is familiar with. Count Dracula is interested in purchasing a new home in England, so Jonathan Harker a real estate agent is sent to Draculas castle high in the Carpathian mountains to sign the legal documents that will seal the deal. Of course what Harker isn't ready for is the fact that Count Dracula is actually a vampire, a man who sold his soul to Satan and now walks the earth as an undead bloodsucker. Dracula falls for Harkers girl and tries to take her from him, you know the drill.
From the small synopsis I typed on that last paragraph you think, yeah, seen one Dracula you seen em all. Right? Wrong! Though this movie does have the same plot line that we have seen hundreds of times in different vampire films, this one certainly has something that makes it different. First and foremost, this film was directed by Werner Herzog and it isn't going to be your regular ordinary vampire movie. There's a certain visual splendor that goes with all of Herzogs films and its evidently present in this film.
What I admire most about Herzog is that he doesn't rely on special effects to make his movies visually interesting. The guy goes to a mountain deep in the middle of nowhere, he looks for the most beautiful and exotic location possible and then shoots his film there. He did it in Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo and he did it again here. Herzogs special effects depend on nature itself. When Jonathan Harker embarks on his journey towards Draculas castle you'll be swept away on a journey that takes you to misty mountains and forceful rivers. So be ready for a film that takes you to some of the most beautiful and exotic places on this earth.
This really isn't a full remake of Murnaus film because what this film really does is mix both Murnaus film and Bram Stokers novel. Instead of Count Orlock we get Dracula. So its sort of a mix of both sources.
Then of course we have the second strongest point in many of Herzogs films. Actor Klaus Kinsky. This guy completely devours the Dracula character and brings him to life in a way that no other actor has ever done. This Dracula isn't a sexy, well dressed lady killer. This guy is animalistic in nature, a creature hunting for his pray, a tortured soul yes, almost disgusted at who he is but at the same time accepting it fully. So much is conveyed through Kinskys performance, his eyes, his hands and pointy nails, and his whispering voice. A very creepy Dracula if you ask me.
A thing that makes this film standout as well is its realism. There's not a single special effect on this movie save for Klaus Kinskys Dracula make up. Everything else is as real as it gets. Draculas castle isn't a miniature or computer generated image, its a real castle. Its not even a set! Its a real freaking castle! When Dracula sucks blood he doesn't go into a bloodbath dripping blood all over the place, he sucks the blood with great care and precision not to spill a single drop. Almost like a baby sucking on his mothers breast. When the sun hits a vampire, its not a visual effects spectacle, the vampire just dies and falls in the floor when the sun hits him. When Dracula transforms into a bat, Herzog shows a real life bat in slow motion in all its natural beauty. Its like everything is done in the most realistic way possible. Nothing is an exaggeration. And when Draculas shadow moves along as if having a life of its own, its an effect done for real. On camera with lights and shadows. Kind of reminded me of Gary Shermans Poltergeist III in that sense.
A warning though, this movie is not fast paced. Its deliberately paced to be creepy and dreamlike. Herzog will stay focused on things for long periods of time so you can really transport yourself to the moment. Well at least thats the way I saw it, I'm sure many people out there might find the movie extremely slow or boring. But not me. To me, this movie was extremely creepy and realistic. Extremely well acted on Kinskys part and just an extremely cool visual trip.
If you're one of those persons that needs explosions and gunshots every five minutes steer clear away from this one, but in the other hand if you have an artistic side that can appreciate a beautiful film like this one then I highly recommended you check Nosferatu: The Vampire right away and experience the visual splendor of a Werner Herzog film.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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