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Shadow of the Vampire (2000)



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

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


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

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



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 24,752

My Rating

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.


Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense

Steven Katz

May 29, 2001


Lions Gate Releasing - Official Site External Icon

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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.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Slate | Comment (1)
Top Critic IconTop 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.

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

September 26, 2002 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop 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.

March 22, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop 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.

February 7, 2001 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

shines forth as a labor of love

May 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

Vampire satire has some creepy moments.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

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

February 15, 2010 Full Review Source:

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

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

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

June 25, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter

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

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

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

September 23, 2007 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

Shadow feels like a missed opportunity.

July 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Big Picture Big Sound
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.

April 5, 2006 Full Review Source:

Incredibly entertaining even without knowledge of Nosferatu.

December 31, 2005 Full Review Source:

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.

September 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
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.

June 25, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

interesting and very good

January 7, 2004 Full Review Source:

Unusual and delightful.

May 22, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Blather
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.

April 16, 2003 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland) incredibly uneven flick.

February 25, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Audience Reviews for Shadow of the Vampire

June 21, 2014
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.
January 21, 2014

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.
April 25, 2013
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.
June 20, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. 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)
    1. FW. Murnau: If it's not in frame, it doesn't exist!
    – Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
    1. FW. Murnau: Why him, you monster? Why not the... script girl?
    2. Max Schreck: Oh. The script girl. I'll eat her later.
    – Submitted by Francis L (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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