Of all the various DVDs of Nosferatu, the Alpha Video DVD release is easily the least impressive of the bunch. This is due in part to the fact that the version of the film is the cheap public domain print used in the U.S. during the '30s, so the characters names have been changed back to those of Stoker's novel. But a big issue here is just the over all lack of quality. Few chapter stops, no restoration whatsoever, and no special features to speak of. Even the DVD packaging with Orlok on the cover has been hideous colored and they've turned him all minty. WTF?! The only positive I can mention here is that this DVD is under $10, but even then you'd be better off with either Image's release or one of Kino's despite the higher cost. Shame on you, Alpha Video!
By not having any, FW Murnau's visionary film Nosferatu succinctly demonstrates how severely dialogue can dilute and trivialise a piece of cinema. Even disregarding the technical and artistic limitations prevailing at the time this film was made (if by 1929 cinema was no longer in its infancy, it was certainly still pre-adolescent), this film is one of the most astonishing pieces of cinema I have ever seen. What is greatest about it - and pretty much everything about it is … more
As noted critic Pauline Kael observed, "... this first important film of the vampire genre has more spectral atmosphere, more ingenuity, and more imaginative ghoulish ghastliness than any of its successors." Some really good vampire movies have been made since Kael wrote those words, but German director F.W. Murnau's 1922 version remains a definitive adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Created when German silent films were at the forefront of visual technique and experimentation, Murnau's classic is remarkable for its creation of mood and setting, and for the unforgettably creepy performance of Max Schreck as Count Orlok, a.k.a. the blood-sucking predator Nosferatu. With his rodent-like features and long, bony-fingered hands, Schreck's vampire is an icon of screen horror, bringing pestilence and death to the town of Bremen in 1838. (These changes of story detail were made necessary when Murnau could not secure a copyright agreement with Stoker's estate.) Using negative film, double-exposures, and a variety of other in-camera special effects, Murnau created a vampire classic that still holds a powerful influence on the horror genre. (Werner Herzog's 1978 filmNosferatu the Vampyreis both a remake and a tribute, and Francis Coppola adopted many of Murnau's visual techniques forBram Stoker's Dracula.) Seen today, Murnau's film is more of a fascinating curiosity, but its frightening images remain effectively eerie.--Jeff Shannon