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Shadow of the Vampire (2000)


Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 135
Fresh: 110
Rotten: 25

Critics Consensus: Shadow of the Vampire is frightening, compelling, and funny, and features an excellent performance by Willem Dafoe.

Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 28
Rotten: 6

Critics Consensus: Shadow of the Vampire is frightening, compelling, and funny, and features an excellent performance by Willem Dafoe.


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 24,809



Movie Info

F W Murnau is making Nosferatu on location in Eastern Europe. The director is determined to make this the most authentic movie ever. To this end Murnau has employed a real vampire, Max Schreck. He explains Schreck's weird behavior by saying that he is a fastidious method actor. As payment Schreck has been promised drug addicted beauty Greta - Nosferatu's leading-lady. She is to be his at the end of filming. But it seems that Schreck cannot wait that long to taste the blood of the crew.

R (for some sexuality, drug content, violence and langauge)
Drama , Horror , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
Steven Katz
In Theaters:
May 29, 2001
Box Office:
Lions Gate Releasing - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Shadow of the Vampire

All Critics (136) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (110) | Rotten (25) | DVD (26)

The screenplay, by Steven Katz, suffers from arch, almost unspeakably theatrical dialogue, and, as Murnau, John Malkovich recites his lines as if monomania were synonymous with monotonic: He drains the drama of blood.

Full Review… | September 25, 2007
Top Critic

Wholly absorbing and inspired in parts, this carefully crafted curio dares to suggest that Murnau made a Faustian pact with an actual vampire to play the title role in exchange for the neck of the film's leading lady at production's end.

Full Review… | September 25, 2007
Top Critic

Intriguing, eccentric, sporadically entertaining tosh (but tosh all the same).

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's a marvelous, resonant joke that never quite succeeds: Stretches of the film resemble a Dario Argento horrorfest crossed with a Mel Brooks spoof.

Full Review… | September 26, 2002
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Out of such dizzying layers of (un)reality, some sublime films have emerged. Nosferatu was one of them, and this is not -- but, c'mon, credit it with the old college try, a pretty decent effort.

Full Review… | March 22, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

This stupid and demeaning fantasy about the shooting of F.W. Murnau's 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu is a piece of postmodernist kitsch whose only redeeming quality is an enjoyably over-the-top, eye-rolling performance by Willem Dafoe.

Full Review… | February 7, 2001
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

shines forth as a labor of love

Full Review… | May 24, 2013
Old School Reviews

Vampire satire has some creepy moments.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

This strictly-for-the-cinéastes fantasy is wild, warped fun.

Full Review… | February 15, 2010

This is a dark, gothic, and creepy film with excellent performances from John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe.

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

... [I]f you like your horror thoughtful and provoking, this is your movie.

Full Review… | June 25, 2008

An imaginatively twisted lesson in film history and a glorious gothic comedy-drama.

Full Review… | September 25, 2007

At best, this is a dawdling, toothless riff on a vastly superior film. At worst, it's character assassination.

Full Review… | September 23, 2007

Shadow feels like a missed opportunity.

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
Big Picture Big Sound

Through layers of makeup depicting the rat-faced, undead Schreck, a vampire who turns not into a bat but, worse, a demanding prima donna, Dafoe doesn't go over the top, though he does plant his flag at the summit.

Full Review… | April 5, 2006

Incredibly entertaining even without knowledge of Nosferatu.

Full Review… | December 31, 2005

In this cookie cutter movie world, it's nice to see the occasional move that doesn't quite fit into a specific genre or can't easily be classified.

Full Review… | September 30, 2005
Three Movie Buffs

What might have occurred during the filming of Nosferatu leaves one amused but confused about how much of Shadow is a spoof and how much is based in truth.

Full Review… | June 25, 2004

interesting and very good

Full Review… | January 7, 2004

Unusual and delightful.

Full Review… | May 22, 2003
Film Blather

A sinister delight for the black at heart.

May 14, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

Guarantees that you'll never watch the source material in the same way again.

Full Review… | April 16, 2003 incredibly uneven flick.

Full Review… | February 25, 2003
Reel Film Reviews

Audience Reviews for Shadow of the Vampire


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Shadow of the Vampire is one of cinemas greatest little quirks. Urban legend has it that actor Max Schreck was in fact a real vampire when he played his role of Count Orlock (Dracula - but they didn't have the rights to call him that as Bram Stockers estate would not allow it). It was said that Schreck and director F.W. Murnau had a secret agreement, Murnau would reward Schreck with a human sacrifice and keep his Vampirism a secret if he would star in what would be the greatest and most realistic vampire movie ever made. As urban legend goes, it's one of the best in the history of cinema. To make it into a film was an act of risky genius. It was well received with critics but not many people went to see it. It made just over £200,000 which in movieland is a disaster. Personally I've not heard many people say nice things about it but now I've seen it I have to disagree. I love the idea and being a fan of the original (and the Herzog remake) I have to say I found it to be a great new chapter in the ongoing development of the original idea. I'm a sucker for films about films but not so much of mixing fantasy and reality. When doing so it is important to do so tastefully, with respect and creatively. Shadow of the Vampire does all that and more and is well worth a watch. Maybe give the original a watch first though for full effect.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

If there is a good reason to watch this film, then it's Willem Dafoe's spine shivering performance. From his body language and disturbing smile, to his maniacal voice, Dafoe delivers a performance that shouldn't be forgotten very easily. There was a particular scene that was priceless; of how Dafoe's character was hit by the sun, his reaction was so convincing, its very difficult to ignore how powerful Willem Dafoe made this Oscar worthy performance, for which I personally believe he should've won.

Samuel Riley
Samuel Riley

Super Reviewer

Not quite sure what to think of this one. At some parts it's extremely interesting but at other times I feel I'm watching a film written by a 5 year old, especially towards the end. I don't really know what it's trying to say. A good cast and an intriguing look into old time filmmaking with Malkovich's performance unusual as per usual but the real stand out of the film is most certainly Dafoe. I didn't even recognize him at first but his performance really is spectacular and the film is worth watching for that alone. I'm not sure what it is about this film but it was strangely good.

Sophie Burgess

Super Reviewer

Shadow of the Vampire Quotes

FW. Murnau:
Go ahead! Eat the writer! That will leave you explaining how your character gets to Bremen!
– Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
FW. Murnau:
If it's not in frame, it doesn't exist!
– Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
FW. Murnau:
Why him, you monster? Why not the... script girl?
Max Schreck:
Oh. The script girl. I'll eat her later.
– Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)

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