Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

nosferatu the vampyre poster 1979 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Solid adaptation

Intentional slow pacing might not be for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name: Nosferatu the Vampyre

Studio:  Werner Herzog Filmproduktion

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s):  January 17, 1979 (France)/October 5, 1979 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

nosferatu the vampyre jonathan harker bruno ganz klaus kinski

Count Dracula, you’re trying to seduce me…aren’t you?

Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) has been sent by his employer Renfield (Roland Topor) to meet with Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski) in Transylvania to seal a land deal.  When he discovers the count has mysterious ways and could pose a threat, Jonathan discovers he’s landed in a trap.  Back at home his wife Lucy Harker (Isabelle Adjani) learns of the danger coming to her land and the fear of the plague is spreading.  Dracula must be stopped and only a woman might be strong enough to do it.

Directed by Werner Herzog, Nosferatu the Vampyre (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht or Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night) is a West German horror film.  The movie adapts the F.W. Murnau classic 1922 silent film Nosferatu which in turn was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula.  The film was released to positive reviews.

I always thought the Nosferatu Dracula (and vampire) was the scariest vampire.  The ears, long fingers, dark piercing eyes, and spiky teeth were terrifying.  Movies generally took the suave Dracula, but films like this and Salem’s Lot took its inspiration from Nosferatu.  This movie captures the feel of a silent film with a lot of emotion.

nosferatu the vampyre count dracula renfield roland topor klaus kinski

Oh, Renfield…you slay me!

The movie has an odd perspective.  While often Dracula films focus on either the hunting of Dracula, the romance and seduction of Mina (here Mina’s merged with Lucy), or the horror, this entry takes a more humanistic approach to Dracula with Lucy taking a more proactive role in stopping him.  The combination of this with the science vs. mythology and the plague fears make for an interesting combination.

Klaus Kinski seems to relish his role as Dracula.  He’s eerie, creepy, and he still manages to be sad.  He’s completely alone in the world and can’t build any relationships.  Isabelle Adjani is solid as the female lead who is out to protect her husband and the world from Dracula’s evil.  Bruno Ganz is a little bland as Harker and then too over-the-top for the character (rivaling the always scene stealer Renfield (played by Roland Topor).  Walter Ladengast plays the rather subdued Van Helsing who primarily believes in science.

nosferatu the vampyre ending count dracula lucy klaus kinski isabelle adjani


The movie is very atmospheric.  The original film is a classic of German Expressionism and this version has a realism combined with some aspects of the surreal.  Herzog does a great job playing with the shadows and using them in a different way to give a similar take but also completely different.

See Nosferatu, but also see Nosferatu the Vampyre if you have a chance.  Both movies provide a different take on same idea and both have their own positive aspects.  The movie has a rather odd ending that almost undermines the film and feels a bit like a combination of Monty Python and a classic “gotcha” horror moment…neither of which are necessary for movie.  Kinski returned to the vampire role in Nosferatu in Venice in 1988 but the film has no ties to this movie.

Related Links:

Nosferatu (1922)

Dracula (1931)

Dracula (1931) (Spanish)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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