This file was generated 2002-06-09 04:23 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2002-01-06.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> November 2001 >> Shadow of the Vampire
Shadow of the Vampire is one of the most amusing vampire movies I've seen in a while. It serves both as a revisionist history of the making of Nosferatu, a silent classic from 1922, and as a chilling display of a mad artist running amok. Who is more evil, a vampire pretending to be an actor so he can feast on the cast and crew, or the director, fully aware of the vampire's nature, that hires him for his authenticity, unafraid of the loss of life he'll doubtless cause? This question inspires the movie's few moments of comedy, but also gives the traditional horror elements a new gruesomeness. The director cares only for his film, and is entirely unfazed as long as what's in front of the camera is worth shooting. The vampire is, well, he's mostly hungry.
Behind the camera we have John Malkovich as a crazed F. W. Murnau. In front, Willem Dafoe as the always-in-character Max Schreck. This is very familiar territory for Malkovich, and he doesn't do much to distinguish it from his previous works. That's not to say it's a bad performance, but it's definitely not the scene- stealer. That honor goes to Dafoe as the vampire, in what may be his best role. Sadly, he's almost completely unrecognizable in it. The makeup team of more than a dozen contributes tremendously to the look, but Dafoe occupies the body of an alien with the appropriately unnatural mannerisms. His expressions, bearing, and movements are fantastically convincing in creating this undead beast. So much of the vampire's creepiness comes from the way he carries his gaunt frame, and Dafoe nails it. Schreck's voice may not have mattered in the silent Nosferatu, but Dafoe's vocal performance has an eerie quality that is steeped in evil.