Saturday, August 8, 2015

658. Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht/Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night (1979)

Running Time: 107 minutes
Directed By: Werner Herzog
Written By: Werner Herzog, from the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker
Main Cast: Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani, Bruno Ganz, Roland Topor, Walter Ladengast
Click here to view the trailer


Okay, now it's just about 1:00am, I'm ever more tired, but why not put all the babies to bed at once. I've literally JUST finished my review of Seven Samurai and having watched two BOOK movies in a row, without writing, it's time for another review already. Read on...

I could probably just put up links to my original Nosferatu review or even the other adaptations of Dracula that I've reviewed, if you wanted a plot synopsis, but I'll play by the rules and write a fresh one. We kick it off with Jonathan Harker (Ganz), who is employed by Renfield (Topor). Renfield, an eerie little man with a serious case of the giggles, asks Jonathan to go to Transylvania and deliver the deed and contract to a home in their town, near the Harker residence, in fact. Jonathan jumps at the task, forever doomed to be a "yes" man. However, Jonathan's wife Lucy (Adjani) doesn't want him to go, as she feels the whole trip spells nothing but doom, though she can't put her finger on why. Jonathan goes anyway and as he approaches Transylvania, he is warned by many to stay out, as nothing but evil lurks on the road to Count Dracula's castle. Jonathan presses on, however, eager to please his boss. Once arriving at the castle of Dracula (Kinski), Jonathan dines and then wakes in the night, after having a nightmare. Two days later, Jonahtan awakes, ready to go back to Lucy, only to find that Dracula is gone and all the doors are locked. He manages to escape and ride horseback all the way back to his hometown. Meanwhile, Dracula is arriving at the same destination via boat, bringing an army of rats and the plague with him. It all comes down to the pure heart of a woman (Lucy) who must figure out how to keep Dracula preoccupied until sunrise, this making him perish...perhaps her neck will do the trick?


Caffeine free Pepsi was not a good choice. Don't expect Shakespeare here, folks - that's all I'm sayin'.

All I can say is that I continue to be underwhelmed by the story of Dracula/Nosferatu, whatever you wanna call it/him. I realize it's a classic, but as THE BOOK has taught us many times, the classics stink sometimes. I mean, what have we got here? A vampire who likes blood - I mean, who can really blame the guy, right? It's his nature, dammit! Harker goes to sell him a house, it spells trouble from the get go, he takes a liking to Harker's wife (and played Isabelle Adjani, once again I can't blame him - she's drop dead gorgeous!), he infects Harker and then gets caught with his pants down when the sun comes up, end of story. That's it. Nothing else. I just feel like there should be a little more, maybe a little subplot, maybe a little substance. I feel like it's dry, is all.

However, what I did like about Herzog's interpretation is that he not only paid tribute to the silent classic (I don't care for it, but most do), he also paid tribute to the history of his own country's films, intertwining a little old Germany with a little bit of new German flare. Add to that the cinematography, which is some of the best I've seen in recent memory (right up there with Dr. Zhivago) and you have a perfectly acceptable film, no matter how dry the plot is. You could almost call this a shot for shot remake of the original Nosferatu, save for a handful of changes. The filmmaker's even went so far as to "pale up" their actors, making them look like they belong in black & white. Herzog also asks his audience, to forget their ears and focus with their eyes, as dialogue isn't really elaborated on here (there's plenty of dialogue, but it's not the center of attention or anything), using things like score, actor's expressions and yes, that gorgeous cinematography, to tell the story rather than words. I've always enjoyed Bruno Ganz (I really need to see Wings of Desire again), Klaus Kinski brings the chops and as I said, Adjani is stunning as Harker's wife, so no complaints cast wise. For me it's better than the original and I say it would work great as part of a Halloween style fright fest.

RATING: 6.5/10  I feel like this is one that I'm going to look back on in a month and ask myself why I didn't rate it higher. But for now, we'll go with the gut...


August 8, 2015  1:19am


  1. Having looked through the review, I was expecting ascore well below 5.. so I guess 6.5 is almost a hit..
    I know from previous posts about your aversion to dracula / vampire films.. so again 6.5 shows you gave this careful consideration.
    I'm quite a fan of the Murnau version .. and most of the others. This one? Well.. it's OK, but I'd not rave about it.. 7.5 maybe?

    1. I'd boldly call this my favorite Dracula interpretation, easily.

  2. Good review. I love Mr. Kinski. My fav performance of his is probably Cobra Verde, a Herzog that's seems to get a mixed reception.

    1. I was reading something about Cobra Verde the other night. I need to add it to my watch list.

  3. To boldy call what no Andrew has called before?


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