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also known as Phantom of the Night

Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht1979

  • 4.3
Werner Herzog's German version of his eerie color remake of F.W. Murnau's original vampire classic is at once faithful to Murnau's film and quintessentially Herzogian, right down to the casting of Herzog's demon alter ego Klaus Kinski in the role he was born to play. Kinski is both hideous and haunting as the chalk-skinned gargoyle, a melancholy monster seeking an end to his eternal loneliness, and Isabelle Adjani's dark eyes and alabaster skin give her the look of death's bride. Herzog pays homage to many of Murnau's memorable images with stunning recreations while creating a number of his own dreamy moments: the twilight hike of Bruno Ganz's Jonathan Harker through the fog-ringed Carpathian Mountains, the ghostly aura of the deserted town, the surreal march of pallbearers parading caskets through the town square, all elevated by the ethereal music of Popul Vuh. Unlike the usual arguments of "original language" versus "dubbed version," Herzog shot the English and German versions simultaneously with the actors performing the spoken scenes separately for each language. The director then edited each version individually, resulting in subtle but palpable differences in pacing, performance and tone between the two otherwise seemingly identical editions. Many critics prefer the German version but you can decide for yourself which version is superior. - Sean Axmaker

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8 members like this review

Thanks to Fandor for bringing this film to my attention. A 1979 Herzog vampire film? Are you kidding me? I called in sick to watch this. Absolute and magnificent. Arousing. A painterly film indeed. Watch it in the dark. I highly recommend reading the Keyframe article to supplement the experience.

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Member Reviews (23)

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Thanks to Fandor for bringing this film to my attention. A 1979 Herzog vampire film? Are you kidding me? I called in sick to watch this. Absolute and magnificent. Arousing. A painterly film indeed. Watch it in the dark. I highly recommend reading the Keyframe article to supplement the experience.

8 members like this review
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meth teeth

4 members like this review
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Herzog. So of course Kinski. And languorous shots of mountains. I think this film might have been edited a bit better, and could have used more of the very expressionist-style portions which are so stunning in their use of black and white in colour photography. The other portions of the film might have benefited from a tinge more of this gothicity, or it seems to me anyway that they don't quite meld. But it is still quite a good film anyway.

3 members like this review
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Worth seeing for the gorgeous camerawork and lighting alone. This is a vampire story that is not frightening (unless you are squeamish about rats because there are thousands of them). You would never know this film was produced on a shoe-string budget. It is also a loving homage to the silent version by F.W. Murnau.

1 member likes this review

So beautifully shot. It took me three days to watch this though because I kept falling asleep. I don't think super long shots with no dialogue work for modern audiences, but you have to appreciate the film for what is was at the time. So innovative and very creepy! Kinski was born to be Count Dracula.

1 member likes this review

I am so disappointed....To say this film was a waste of my time is an understatement !! The plot was forced as was the acting. Probably the worst take on any vampire film ever brought to the screen.. I am stunned at the lameness of every aspect especially by such an acclaimed filmmaker...

1 member likes this review
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Klaus Kinski is not just acting -- he seems to have become "Nosferatu." At turns surreal, tragic and often discordant -- this film is perhaps flawed, but it will always be an essential work from Herzog.

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A little bit on the slow burn side, but this version of the Count Dracula saga is still quite enjoyable if you break it up into two chunks. Herzog wisely parcels out Kinski's screen time very conservatively, so Kinski has to pack as much ghoulishness as he can by using his whole body as menace personified. The supporting cast is admirable, too, and I was impressed with the art direction and costumes. Three and a half stars.

i prefer 1922 version, but this is good

Fantastically entertaining performance from Kinski. Drags at points, but you'd be silly for not watching it.

I prefer the 1922 version. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

The cinematography was beautiful. Isabelle Adjani is always mesmerizing to watch in her craft. Bruno Ganz (love him more in Wings of Desire) Klaus Kinski was uber weird and creepy. How did they work with so many rats?! ewww.....but overall film was beautifully shot! I highly recommend this movie!

A shining treasure. Don't know how I've lived most of my life without this film.

This is not one of Herzog's best efforts, but it has its moments. Pointlessly slow and empty of background extras toward the beginning (and meaningful supporting cast throughout), it had the overall effect of a weekend film project on a tight budget, despite worthy sets and locations, and despite great acting by Kinski and Adjani (and Roland Topor as Renfield) though the script was much too sparse. It seems Herzog was straining excessively in order to remain faithful to his interpretation of the original, further evidenced by the strangely-handled editing. Watching the town and its inhabitants break down and die off with the infusion of the plague throughout its streets was the most interesting aspect the film offered though, again, the appearance of extras arrived too late to be as effective as it might have been. The question of science as the enlightened answer to outmoded religion was handled well, and has particular relevance nearly forty years later.

No one goes through a Goth phase like Werner Herzog.

Herzog is one of my favorite directors. Although this film is not my favorite by him, it is still breathtaking to watch, as the picturesque cinematography is quite luring. Though discontinuous at times, the frames altogether bring forth elements of question with subtlety spreading feelings of melancholy and unease. Herzog again investigates human's darkest fears...the spread of disease, externally and internally, comes in the form of a caricature. Adjani was also wonderful in this. If you like her and similar themes as this film, I recommend the film Possession.

Visually, tonally, and texturally captures the vast loneliness and melancholy at the heart of the Dracula story.

Interesting, but what a downer!

One of my all time favorite Herzog movies! Best to watch during Halloween with a cold glass of Pilsner.

man....creepsville......and the shots.....amazing!!!!!

Worth a watch.

great isuals

The best Hickey int the long white pale Isabelle Adjani's neck.