review for Nosferatu the Vampyre on AllMovie

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
by Andrea LeVasseur review

Werner Herzog's take on the Bram Stoker novel Dracula is one of the most stunning of the numerous screen versions of the classic vampire tale. The film is basically a remake of F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922), with notorious Herzog collaborator Klaus Kinski borrowing much in the way of style and character from Max Schreck's performance as the count. Kinski's Nosferatu is a sympathetic vampire, consumed with the sadness of his own plight. In painfully silent scenes, he appears ashamed of his ghoulish appearance and often hides behind his disturbingly long nails. With little to no gore and nothing drastically scary, it doesn't so much seem like a horror movie, yet, thanks to Kinski, it is intensely creepy. Herzog uses stark images, like ancient-looking skulls, and a powerful score from electronic pioneers Popol Vuh to create an eerie nightmare atmosphere. Also adding to the eeriness is the performance of Isabelle Adjani as Lucy, whose ethereal beauty and deadpan delivery produce an unsettling aura for the often underwritten heroine. The additional plot of the plague allows for more surrealist creepiness, such as wandering goats and sheep in the town square. Nosferatu the Vampyre was a characteristic film for Kinski, who excelled in playing other disturbing madmen in many Herzog films, most notably Aguirre, the Wrath of God.