|...with these goddamned rat-teeth?|
I've been wanting to rewatch this one for years. I first saw it back in High School when they had a special midnight showing during Halloween weekend at the old Babcock Theater. Anyone from Billings, Montana can tell you all about the Babcock's reputation for being haunted, which had everyone in a creepy mood long before frame one flickered. What I remember most vividly was the opening scene with the dessicated bodies of plague victims, particularly the children.
|European horror and dead children go together like bullets and guns.|
At the time, I had no real knowledge of film history, and very limited experience with foreign films. I remember being disappointed that the movie wasn't scarier. This time around, however, watching Klaus Kinski's Dracula eyeballing Harker like a thick, juicy porterhouse unnerved me in all the right ways. Kinski is the real reason to see this movie. It is well known that the man was genuinely unhinged, and you feel like he might do any manner of insane shit at any given moment. He does his best to live up to Max Shreck's immortal performance, but can we blame him if he falls slightly short? After all, Max Shreck could scare the crap out of you with his looks alone, while Kinski, being a good-looking man, had to rely only on the insanity pouring forth from his eyes.
|Mein Gott, you look juicy!|
|We get it Herzog; Germany's a beautiful country. Can we get back to the story now?|
Call me a slave to the Universal Monsters aesthetic, but doesn't this place seem a little too bright and cheerful to house the King of the Undead?
These stylistic missteps aside, I really like the twists Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht puts on the classic Dracula story. In this version, Dracula doesn't just come to town and decimate the population one throat at a time, he brings the plague with him. Some of the most haunting scenes from the film are the ones in which the villagers left alive throw a festival, choosing to party the rest of their lives away since hope has fled. And the shots of literally thousands of rats make my skin crawl, and I normally love the little buggers.
|Fine dining amongst the plague rats.|
|He was born to play this role. Why else would his mother have named him Klaws? Wa wah wah waaah...|