Wednesday, Jun. 30, 2010


The original vampire film against which all future bloodsucking flicks would be judged, Nosferatu was actually one of the world's greatest knockoffs. In 1921, German filmmakers Enrico Dieckmann and Albin Grau wanted to make a film adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, but they couldn't secure the rights. Not about to let that stop them, they just changed all the names. Count Dracula became Count Orlok and Jonathan Harker became Thomas Hutter. The character Van Helsing was dropped altogether. And the title of the film came from a Romanian word synonymous with vampire that was popularized by Stoker himself. Shot in Germany, on the Carpathian Mountains and in Slovakia, Nosferatu became a smash as audiences quaked at Max Schreck's demonic Count Orlok, complete with fangs, pointed ears and 6-in. fingernails. Stoker's widow, Florence, sued, resulting in the studio's bankruptcy and a court order to destroy all existing prints of Nosferatu. Luckily, Dieckmann and Grau had already shipped the film around the world, ensuring that everything from sanctioned Dracula adaptations to Anne Rice to Twilight would bear their dark mark.