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Overall Rating
3.81

Awesome: 24.82%
Worth A Look46.72%
Just Average: 14.6%
Pretty Crappy: 12.41%
Sucks: 1.46%

11 reviews, 71 user ratings


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Shadow of the Vampire
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by EricDSnider

"A vampire movie that doesn't suck! Ha ha ha. Please kill me."
4 stars

"Shadow of the Vampire," about the filming of an old movie, itself has several qualities we associate with old movies: a too-long opening credit sequence, a simple premise without a lot of depth, and over-the-top acting, for example.

You may have noticed that these are not good qualities. To be fair, though, "Shadow of the Vampire" overcomes the handicaps it gives itself and turns out to be a rather entertaining picture.

The film explores a giggly "what-if?" conceit: What if the man who played the vampire in the legendary silent film "Nosferatu" really WAS a vampire? This is an audacious thing to make a movie about; after all, these are actual, historical people here, and we're assigning attributes to them that have no basis in fact (or even in urban legend).

The man in question is Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), who in "Shadow" is recruited by egomaniacal director F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) to play Count Orlock (Bram Stoker's estate wouldn't let them use "Dracula," so they lifted the story and changed the names).

Cast and crew know that Schreck is mercurial and odd, so immersed in his character that he only allows filming at night and never appears in front of others except in full makeup and costume. We and Murnau know that he's an actual vampire who doesn't need makeup, doing the work of an actor because Murnau has promised to let him liquidate leading lady Greta Shroder (Catherine McCormack) when it's all over. (So much for the film-plugging talk-show circuit.)

There is some devilish humor in having a monster working as an actor -- finding his marks, standing still for measurements, and so on. The other people working on the film take delight in asking Schreck teasingly about the life of a vampire, and he answers truthfully -- which amuses them no end, as they don't realize he's not just playing a character.

Though to my knowledge there were never any rumors about Max Schreck being a vampire, I think I may start one about Willem Dafoe. His malevolent grin borders on the cartoonish, and he skulks around in a most impressively creepy manner. I suspect Dafoe knows he's over-acting most of the time, and he's having so much fun doing it that it's hard to complain.

If you're not careful, you might not realize until the end that the real main character here is the director, Murnau. His drive to complete the film no matter what is where the movie's heart is; Schreck's behavior is just comic-book window-dressing.

The movie is better than the sum of its parts. Dafoe, Malkovich and Cary Elwes (as the cinematographer brought in after Schreck sucks the first one dry) are all top-notch in their roles, and the black-and-white footage used when the camera is rolling adds authenticity.

Forget "Dracula 2000" (if you can); Dracula 1922 is where the real action is.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1891&reviewer=247
originally posted: 02/28/01 02:53:03
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User Comments

6/13/16 FireWithFire Might've been a good movie, but as usual, MalkoPEE ruined it with his pretentious "acting" 2 stars
10/24/09 brian This movie sucks. Brilliantly. 4 stars
10/22/09 the dork knight Brilliant pairing of Malkovich and DaFoe! Scary / hilarious at the same time 4 stars
5/25/08 PAUL SHORTT STRANGELY INERT AND DEPRESSINGLY LITERAL MINDED 1 stars
4/27/08 simon burgin Agreed! film was rubbish, good premise, bad execution 2 stars
1/09/07 David Pollastrini great concept 5 stars
12/19/06 Goggle Eyes Most terrifyingly plausible vampire movie - ever! 5 stars
8/29/05 ES It was an interesting premise but unworthy of the hype surrounding it 3 stars
3/27/05 indrid cold Juicy performances, but the story is too weird and slow to be good. 3 stars
9/02/03 Charles Tatum An interesting idea told with complete indifference 2 stars
4/30/03 Andrew Carden Willem Dafoe Gives The Best Performance Of 2001. Brilliant Film. 5 stars
4/10/03 Jack Bourbon Brilliant visuals. Too many stories going on at once, though. Good movie overall. 4 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby More of an artistic stunt than an organic motion picture. Dafoe, though, is a delight. 2 stars
11/03/02 kooler Genius. 5 stars
7/29/02 Captain Midol Given a choice between death and sitting through this again? I'd flip a coin. 2 stars
6/06/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi well.....im a bit disappointed, coz the trailers looked cool....but it was too long... 3 stars
4/26/02 maximal01 Dafoe is funny as hell.. but the damn movie wrapped up like they got bored with the story!! 4 stars
3/02/02 Chowie Willem Dafoe is excellent, but the whole movie is too long and streched out 3 stars
1/15/02 Penguin Boy Go Willem Dafoe. Awesome. Malkovich overdoes it, & movie is dull, uninteresting, formulaic 2 stars
12/20/01 daniboy WIllem Dafoe DESERVED thar Oscar 5 stars
11/03/01 Andrew Carden Very Interesting Plot About Making The Movie, but The Rest Is Most Dull. 3 stars
9/23/01 Larry Smith Eddie Izzard... way to go! Willem Dafoe #1! 5 stars
9/18/01 Dane A movie critic's day off! 5 stars
9/04/01 malcolm malkovich is eerily convincing as a lunatic film-maker 4 stars
8/19/01 Reini Urban The first half is interesting, the second boring. 3 stars
7/20/01 Gus it's funny and creepy at the same time!!~~ 5 stars
6/19/01 Stephanie HiCollin, Notenoughspacetowriteeverything. WillemDafoewasgreat.Hadmebelievinghewasavamp. 5 stars
6/16/01 The Bomb 69 looked great, strong acting, the script seemed a little weak though 4 stars
6/01/01 Jason S. Kotz Awesome movie, I was hooked from begining to end. 5 stars
6/01/01 mahone Not funny. Not scary. Boring in the extreme. 2 stars
5/06/01 Roy Smith I had to apologize to my friends for draging them to see this..slow, slow, slow..movie. 2 stars
4/23/01 kelly excellent,a piece of art!!! 5 stars
4/08/01 Lord Raymos Well done, scary..weak ending. 4 stars
3/24/01 Jessi Beautiful-- Most artistic film ever, most intelligent process done-- 5 stars
3/22/01 William Peterson A pretty damn good movie with no clear point in my poor little mind. 4 stars
3/10/01 hum Yes Nosferatu, eat the writer. Too many good ideas under explored 2 stars
3/08/01 roberto getto smells of munau, smells of herzog, smells gRRReat 5 stars
3/04/01 Adam Freeman Funny and scary. 4 stars
3/03/01 Suzz loved it 5 stars
3/01/01 Captain Highcrime A welcome reprieve from the "Blade"s and "Dracula 2000"s of late. 4 stars
3/01/01 Roger the Shrubber Great acting, great set design, original story. If only the ending wasn't so damn silly... 4 stars
2/21/01 Steve Walsh A gem. Expectations of this film mean it's currently being underappreciated. 4 stars
2/19/01 Frank Kelly Good intentions, but pretty incoherent 3 stars
2/15/01 Ken Ratajczyk Awesome! Defoe should win an oscar...Hands Down!!! 5 stars
2/14/01 shawn allen killer story, superb acting, great visuals 5 stars
2/11/01 NoRefill Not much of a story. Never cared about the characters. Defoe is great. 3 stars
2/10/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Did I mention John Malkovich kicks ass?? 4 stars
2/06/01 Katchoo Unique premise, could have been played up for dark humor, but quite interesting. 4 stars
2/06/01 puckfreak Good movie, longest opening credits scene EVER! 4 stars
2/05/01 sophia866 All Artists are Vampires, all Vampires are addicts, soo..... 5 stars
2/05/01 Dorothy Constable Such a great movie 4 stars
2/04/01 Stephanie Belli refreshingly different 5 stars
2/04/01 geo Best Film Of The Year. If you don't think so, then go see Valentine where you belong. 5 stars
2/01/01 Jed M. Wall This is the finest contemporary film since "L.A. Confidential" 5 stars
1/31/01 James BJ Enjoyable, Dafoe was great!! 4 stars
1/30/01 puff the magic dragon Willem Dafoe steals the show 4 stars
1/30/01 James Good camara work, and story line 4 stars
1/28/01 Stuntman good movie, great cast 4 stars
1/26/01 frankko great performances, but i didn't care much for the story 2 stars
1/26/01 Boy In The Designer Bubble cool movie, much classier than expected. 5 stars
1/23/01 Stephanie Dafoe and Izzard were really the only highlights of this shoddy directionless flick. 2 stars
1/22/01 william fitz Wonderul and intelligent. 5 stars
1/13/01 Neil Great film Dafoe was excellent, but Izzard was better!!! 5 stars
1/10/01 Heather Fascinating, intriguing movie, amazing performance from Willem Dafoe 5 stars
1/10/01 Liz Dafoe and Malkovich succeed in continously freaking me out! The film is truly frightening! 5 stars
1/08/01 Dr Fardook this film accessed a null space in my brain. I think I liked it. I can't remember 4 stars
12/30/00 Joseph Molnar I loved this film. Funny, scary and beautiful. Unlike any other picture I've seen 5 stars
12/19/00 CB Great! Dafoe and cast all manage over-the-top perfmncs without blowing it. Fun. 5 stars
12/17/00 marleene dubois Fantastic, smart, funny, most original film in years, who is this great, original director? 5 stars
12/12/00 cooljo so dummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm 1 stars
11/19/00 Vandemaele Kurt Funny, but too smart for it's own good. And Willem Dafoe is brilliant in the film. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Jan-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Jan-2001 (M)


Directed by
  Elias Merhige

Written by
  Steven Katz

Cast
  John Malkovich
  Willem Dafoe
  Cary Elwes
  Catherine McCormack
  Udo Kier
  Eddie Izzard



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