Shadow of the Vampire 2000 ***

The appearance of actor Max Schreck in the original silent film Nosferatu is so bizarre that urban legend has it that he was actually a vampire, coaxed into appearing before the camera. This fanciful idea gets a playful treatment in director E Elias Merhige’s clever film, in which the controlling FW Murnau (John Malkovich) attempts to wrangle Schreck (Willem Dafoe) into his role, a battle of wills with Schreck holding a surprise in check. Gleeful in its take on cinema history, Shadow of the Vampire is an ingenious black comedy about the early days of cinema, and a smart, articulate horror film to boot, with Dafoe and Malkovich excellent, and Eddie Izzard, Cary Elwes and the perennially sinister Udo Kier in support.


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