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Overall Rating
3.81

Awesome: 24.64%
Worth A Look47.1%
Average: 14.49%
Pretty Bad: 12.32%
Total Crap: 1.45%

11 reviews, 72 user ratings


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Shadow of the Vampire
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by Chris Parry

"A masterpiece of casting, but a little confused in the direction."
4 stars

Some films sound so damn good from the outset that they really have you buzzed before you go in, and often this overexpectation will lead what should have been an decent, enjoyable film to become a bit of a let down. Shadow of the Vampire is certainly not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, and it has to be said that any time you have a chance to see Dafoe and Malkovich on the screen together, you damn well should, but when all is said and done, this is an affair where all the wide-eyed smiles and early awe that dripped off the screen in the early acts, just couldn't be sustained through to the conclusion.

Shadow of the Vampire is the story of German director FW Murnau's early century production of Nosferatu. Unable to convince the Stoker family to give him the rights to make Dracula, Murnau simply changed the names of the protagonists and made his own film, a work that would become remembered as a classic of the time.

But a movie about a vampire movie isn't all that intriguing, so the writer here has added a twist. What if Max Schreck, who played Nosferatu in the original production, was a method actor in the most extreme sense? What if he got a little too into his role? What if Murnau was a screaming perfectionist, a drug-addled fop and a looney dedicated to making this work utter perfection at any cost?

Shadows of the Vampire starts very well indeed, and the casting could not have been better. You'd pay ten bucks to see Malkovich read the heating instructions from a microwave sweet'n'sour pork, and in the lead role here he certainly plays the German maniac director soundly. But it's Willem Dafoe as the undead prince who steals the show. Equal parts deathly object of horror and slapstick comedian, Dafoe gives the film a real twist where you're not sure if things are going to the sublime or the ridiculous.

Unfortunately, perhaps seeking commercial viability, perhaps lost in the mire of what to do next or how to finish things, the film tries to cover both, and ends up sinking into a mire of unbelievability and confusion. The lines between reality and fantasy are too readily crossed and ultimately, when we're supposed to feel a real emergency in proceedings, we start rolling eyes instead.

Certainly Shadow of the Vampire is worth seeing, and there's little disputing it beats most of what is out there when it comes to originality and intention, but you can't help wondering what might have been if the director had chosen a path and stuck to it, rather than crossing the moors into surrealism.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1891&reviewer=1
originally posted: 10/23/00 00:49:56
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User Comments

11/07/18 Langano One of the best vampire films. 4 stars
6/14/16 FireWithFire Might've been a good movie, but as usual, MalkoPEE ruined it with his pretentious "acting" 2 stars
10/25/09 brian This movie sucks. Brilliantly. 4 stars
10/23/09 the dork knight Brilliant pairing of Malkovich and DaFoe! Scary / hilarious at the same time 4 stars
5/26/08 PAUL SHORTT STRANGELY INERT AND DEPRESSINGLY LITERAL MINDED 1 stars
4/28/08 simon burgin Agreed! film was rubbish, good premise, bad execution 2 stars
1/10/07 David Pollastrini great concept 5 stars
12/19/06 Goggle Eyes Most terrifyingly plausible vampire movie - ever! 5 stars
8/30/05 ES It was an interesting premise but unworthy of the hype surrounding it 3 stars
3/28/05 indrid cold Juicy performances, but the story is too weird and slow to be good. 3 stars
9/03/03 Charles Tatum An interesting idea told with complete indifference 2 stars
5/01/03 Andrew Carden Willem Dafoe Gives The Best Performance Of 2001. Brilliant Film. 5 stars
4/11/03 Jack Bourbon Brilliant visuals. Too many stories going on at once, though. Good movie overall. 4 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby More of an artistic stunt than an organic motion picture. Dafoe, though, is a delight. 2 stars
11/04/02 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
4/27/02 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
12/21/01 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
9/05/01 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
6/20/01 Stephanie HiCollin, Notenoughspacetowriteeverything. WillemDafoewasgreat.Hadmebelievinghewasavamp. 5 stars
6/17/01 The Bomb 69 looked great, strong acting, the script seemed a little weak though 4 stars
6/02/01 Jason S. Kotz Awesome movie, I was hooked from begining to end. 5 stars
6/02/01 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
3/23/01 William Peterson A pretty damn good movie with no clear point in my poor little mind. 4 stars
3/11/01 hum Yes Nosferatu, eat the writer. Too many good ideas under explored 2 stars
3/09/01 roberto getto smells of munau, smells of herzog, smells gRRReat 5 stars
3/04/01 Adam Freeman Funny and scary. 4 stars
3/04/01 Suzz loved it 5 stars
3/02/01 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
2/22/01 Steve Walsh A gem. Expectations of this film mean it's currently being underappreciated. 4 stars
2/20/01 Frank Kelly Good intentions, but pretty incoherent 3 stars
2/16/01 Ken Ratajczyk Awesome! Defoe should win an oscar...Hands Down!!! 5 stars
2/15/01 shawn allen killer story, superb acting, great visuals 5 stars
2/12/01 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
2/07/01 Katchoo Unique premise, could have been played up for dark humor, but quite interesting. 4 stars
2/07/01 puckfreak Good movie, longest opening credits scene EVER! 4 stars
2/06/01 sophia866 All Artists are Vampires, all Vampires are addicts, soo..... 5 stars
2/06/01 Dorothy Constable Such a great movie 4 stars
2/05/01 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
2/02/01 Jed M. Wall This is the finest contemporary film since "L.A. Confidential" 5 stars
2/01/01 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
1/29/01 Stuntman good movie, great cast 4 stars
1/27/01 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
1/24/01 Stephanie Dafoe and Izzard were really the only highlights of this shoddy directionless flick. 2 stars
1/23/01 william fitz Wonderul and intelligent. 5 stars
1/13/01 Neil Great film Dafoe was excellent, but Izzard was better!!! 5 stars
1/11/01 Heather Fascinating, intriguing movie, amazing performance from Willem Dafoe 5 stars
1/11/01 Liz Dafoe and Malkovich succeed in continously freaking me out! The film is truly frightening! 5 stars
1/09/01 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
12/20/00 CB Great! Dafoe and cast all manage over-the-top perfmncs without blowing it. Fun. 5 stars
12/18/00 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
11/20/00 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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