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Overall Rating
3.81

Awesome: 24.82%
Worth A Look46.72%
Average: 14.6%
Pretty Bad: 12.41%
Total Crap: 1.46%

11 reviews, 71 user ratings


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Shadow of the Vampire
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Bloody Ending"
3 stars

Shadow of the Vampire is about the making of the classic silent film, Nosferatu, in Germany in 1922. Or rather, itís about the people who made it.

Director E. Elias Merhige and screenwriter Steven Katz postulate that actor Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) made such a convincing Nosferatu, because he was really a vampire. Itís a marvellous conceit for a film, and Dafoe (unrecognisable thanks to the
extraordinary makeup of Ann Buchanan and Katja Reinert) has enormous fun as Schreck. He bites the head off a bat, and canít help draining the blood of the filmís cinematographer. John Malkovich plays the obsessive director, F.W. Murnau. When heís refused the rights to Bram Stokerís story, he changes the names in his scenario and proceeds regardless. He brings live animals and bottles of blood for Schreck to feed on, and promises him leading lady Greta Schroeder (Catherine McCormack) once filming has concluded.

Shadow of the Vampire is frequently funny for much of its short length, in keeping with the wild premise. Merhige has a lot of fun recreating an early movie set, and Eddie Izzard is wonderful as silent movie star and leading man, Gustav von Wangenheim. But the film turns nasty once the idea runs out of steam, and Katz and Merhige struggle with the ending. Their fanciful idea (and it was fanciful - Schreck continued acting into the 1930s and was never typecast as a vampire) is spoilt by taking it to serious extremes.

Gods and Monsters (also about the director of a seminal horror film) was so moving because it weaved its story around the known facts of James Whaleís life. It could have happened. The same cannot be said for Shadow of the Vampire, which is only fun while itís not taking itself too seriously.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1891&reviewer=104
originally posted: 02/03/01 11:38:05
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

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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