Special Features
90 Years of Nosferatu:
The First Dracula Movie

By William Henry Pratt

  Ninety years ago, the year was 1922 and as
people entered the theater to see what was then the
worlds very first vampire movie they had no idea that
what they were about to see would be truly history in
the making.  The film "Nosferatu: A Symphony of
Horror" the first movie to ever feature a vampire and
still is considered even by today's horror fans to be
the best and most frightening vampire movie ever
made.  If you don't agree with that, you still have to agree that the vampire star of
this movie is one of, if not the most frightening looking vampire of all time.

  Released in March 1922, the German horror movie directed by F.W. Murnau
told the story of Count Orlok, a vampire who brings death to where ever he goes.  
The creature is looking for a new home and wants to relocate, so he invites
someone to his castle high atop the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania who
will aid in his move to a new land and dwelling.  But soon the man finds himself
locked in the castle and sees his host only by night.  The vampire discovers that
this man has a young lovely wife and wants her for his own.  The creature then
travels to the mans home town to woe his wife and make her a member of the
undead.  There the vampire Count meets town folk who discover what he is and
plan to hunt down the nocturnal beast.  In the end, the monster is killed by the
morning rays of the sun and turns to dust.  If this story sounds like you heard it
before.....well it is, only you know this story as "Dracula"

  The German film makers approached the widow of author Bram Stoker to ask
for the rights to turn his book into a movie and she said "No...you may not have
permission to my late husbands novel for your film" but they made the movie
anyway.  They thought by changing the names of the players they could fool her
and made their villain Count Orlok from Count Dracula with other little changes
would do the trick.  Well it didn't and when Miss Stoker found out she took the film
to court and won.  The ruling was that all copies and prints of the movie were to
be destroyed.  Luckily some prints were snuck out of town and were hidden from
the movie witch hunt that soon followed so all new generations of horror fans can
enjoy this amazing movie from horror's own history.

  The actor playing the demonic lead was Max Schreck who's name really does
means terror in German.  This actor looked just as scary out of the movie
make-up worn as Count Orlok as he did in real life.  And he wore very little to
begin with to become the fright full creature seen on film.  Born on September 6
1879, Schreck was a German actor born in Berlin, who is known for an impressive
body of work on stage and screen but none the less, he will be forever
remembered for the role of the very first vampire in cinema.

  The very look of Schreck's vampire in itself was scary as his creature had a
pointed ears, a nearly shaved head (rare in them days), two rat like fangs that sat
at the very front of his mouth and oh those claws.  His nails long and sharp like a
bird of pray's talons and the thing that seemed most dreaded about this creature.  
In later films using his image such as the movies remake and Salem's Lot both
1979, he was depicted as being completely bald but in reality the vampire had
little patches of long hair just above his ears that seemed to flow with the contours
of his pointed ears.

  German director Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe better known as F.W. Murnau, like
Max Schreck is best known for his work on "Nosferatu."  Born in 1888, just nine
years before the publication of Stoker's Dracula, and died at just 42, nine years
after his most remembered film "Nosferatu.", Murnau's work in the days of the
early silent cinema was an impressive one with not only his work on the vampire
classic but films such as Faust, Phantom and Sunrise making his film run 21 inl
total.  His last movie Tabu was released after his death and was one of his few
Hollywood productions he made.  Nosferatu was the directors 10th film.

  As spoken about before, in 1979 Nosferatu was remade only this time with
sound and full color.  Stepping into the teeth and claws was actor Klaus Kinski,
who now played the vampire with that of the spoken word.  Kinski's Count Orlok
(now using the name Dracula), though creepy in his own right, is still a far cry from
that of Schreck's vampire.  The remake like the 1922 classic holds the viewer
deep in a film of creepy over-tones and scary shadows.  Giving noise to the
vampire adds something that the classic lost in its silent times and very much
holds up to being a well made remake.  The use of the vampires look for the
movie version of Stephen King's Salem's Lot. was one of a risky move on the film
makers.  King's Mr Barlow was not a bald rat tooth monster but more like any
other vampire much like seen in the remake of Salem's Lot 2004 with Barlow being
played by actor Rutger Hauer.  In 2000, a new movie arose about the making of
the 1922 classic in Shadow of The Vampire with actor Willem Dafoe playing Orlok,
who is an actor playing Orlok who in this story is a real vampire playing an actor
playing a vampire.  (Got That?)  Here Dafoe gives it his all playing Max Schreck
playing Orlok in this very well made and entertaining movie....within a movie.

  Today this silent movie classic can be seen and enjoyed by all new generations
of horror fans who can embrace the film for the masterpiece it is.  Since the years
this classic was made, movies developed sound, color, 3-D, VHS, DVD and Digital
Downloads.  Now to see this movie one just needs to log into Youtube.com to
watch this...the master of all horror films.  If you consider yourself a true....and I
mean TRUE horror fan, this movie is a must see for a real horror fan.  After all this
movie is horror history, the very first Dracula movie and the first ever vampire
movie ever made.
For 90 Years of
Nosferatu: The First
Dracula Movie,

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