31 Days Of Streaming Horror: 'Shadow Of The Vampire' Reveals The "True" Story Of 'Nosferatu'

Welcome to 31 Days of Streaming Horror. Every day this October, we'll be highlighting a different streaming horror movie to help you get into the Halloween spirit. Today's entry: Shadow of the Vampire (2000).

Shadow of the Vampire

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Tubi, and Pluto TV

Sub-Genre: Fake BiopicBest Setting to Watch It In: A crumbling castle in RomaniaHow Scary Is It?: Not very scary, but you should watch it anywayNosferatu is often hailed as one of the all-time great horror movies, as well as being one of the best vampire films and one of the best adaptations of Dracula. And Shadow of the Vampire reveals how it was made. Sort of. This horror-comedy from director E. Elias Merhige (Begotten) posits that the reason Nosferatu was so effective was that the movie's star, Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) was a real vampire. In a quest for maximum realism, director F. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) sought out a real bloodsucker to be his movie star.

The rest of Nosferatu's cast initially thinks that Schreck is the ultimate method actor, always staying in character (and in make-up). But when people start turning up dead, and when Schreck's "method" acting involves taking real bites out of people, it becomes apparent rather quickly that something's not right.

This premise is ripe for farce, and Shadow of the Vampire does play up the comedic elements. But the movie also stays firmly rooted in darkness as it draws us into the pact between the drug-addicted Murnau and the undead Schreck, who has agreed to act in the movie in exchange for being promised the blood of Nosferatu's female lead Greta Schroeder (Catherine McCormack).

Dafoe is predictably fantastic as Schreck, making the vampire actor both ghoulish and oddly sympathetic – he's been alone for a very, very long time, and a scene where he reveals his interpretation of Dracula ("It made me sad") is pitch-perfect in its character building.