Tuesday, October 23, 2012

30 Days of Fright - 22: Nosferatu the Vampyre

I can't stand to be conned, duped, swindled, or tricked; not many people I know enjoy such an experience. What I really hate is when you go about buying something thinking you're getting one thing and then end up getting something completely different. Different and shit.

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) is a German retelling of Bram Stoker's Dracula and remake/homage to the classic 1921 film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. Moving the actoin from London to Wismar in Germany, Nosferatu tells of young Jonathan Harker, an estate agent who's given an important assignment by his weird boss Renfield to sell a large though derelict house in Wismar to the even weirder Count Dracula. Harker travels for weeks to Dracula's castle in rural Transylvania in order to get the contract for the house signed.

Once in the same parish as Dracula's place, Harker has a tough time getting up to the castle as none of the locals are willing to lend a carriage or even a horse to anyone planning on making that journey. The only thing the natives give Harker (apart from a hard time and bad dinner) is advice about vampires, which he puts down to just being bumpkin bullshit. Making the last of the trip on foot, Harker finally makes it up to the castle, which isn't in the best of repair, and encounters Dracula. The Count turns out to be a raving lunatic and chronic shut-in, pale form the lack of sunlight and just a little bit odd in his mannerisms and general appearance.

Relations between Harker and the Count are a little strained but when Harker inadvertently shows Dracula a picture of his bird Lucy, Dracula changes his tune and quickly signs the contract, apparently motivated by the knowledge that his new Wismar gaff is only around the corner from Jonathan and Lucy's place. The next day Harker sees some of Dracula's men loading coffins onto carts and realises that they're to be shipped to Wismar. After a little investigating he realises he was wrong to dismiss the warnings he'd received as Dracula is every bit the vampire and is making his way to Harker's home town...

God help me I'm so sick of those Twilight films making us vampires out to be big wimps

 Oh, Count Dracula, the vampires in Twilight are so romantic

What the fuck did you just say?

The vampires in Twilight... they're really... romantic... and sparkly!

Nom, Nom, Nom.

When I purchased Nosferatu the Vampyre on DVD I thought I was buying the 1921 film not some fucked up late seventies German nonsense. I didn't realise my mistake until after the opening credits. The opening is in colour and not the glorious black and white I was expecting and that was my first clue that there was something wrong. Try to imagine my shock when the film kicked off and it finally sank in that I was not watching a classic piece of German expressionist cinema but rather some bastards shallow attempt to cash in on a cool name for a film.

Well, actually Nosferatu the Vampyre is a remake of the '21 film so it's supposed to be similar to it's inspiration and it was the cover of the DVD that duped me, so whoever made that up is the person who's really on my shit list, not the film-makers, so I did try to be fair to the film.

The film is dirt!

Nosferatu the Vampyre is dull, overly long, full of what I suppose are meant to be "artistic" images but are actually just weird clips of bats and rats, badly acted, and just fucking German! I have no problem with German cinema, I've enjoyed a good few movies from that part of the world, but the German films I've liked have been proper German, in that they were in the language with English subtitles. The version of Nosferatu the Vampyre I saw was in English. Did you catch that? The VERSION I saw was in English!

When Nosferatu the Vampyre was made., all the scenes that features anyone talking were filmed twice, once in the actors native tongue (German) and then filmed again in English so that the film could be sold in English speaking countries without dubbing or subtitles. A nice enough idea on paper, but the actors weren't really comfortable chatting in English so every scene comes across as wooden and badly staged.

Apparently the film is better in German but I find that hard to believe as all the rubbish bits will still be in it and if anything it will be longer than it already is. As a quirky bit of cinema trivia Nosferatu the Vampyre is interesting enough for how it was made and then remade straight away, but seeing as how it's not the film I was expecting, as far as I'm concerned it'll never be more than a sham.

Two Thumbs Down for Nosferatu the Vampyre.

Fake Links:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nosferatu_the_Vampyre
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079641/

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