There are a ton of great screenings this week, but given how rare of an opportunity it is to see it on the big screen, I’m going to highlight Werner Herzog’s eerie remake. The Coolidge has been celebrating the prolific Herzog all month, and the German director appeared in person to receive a lifetime achievement award. Out of all of his documentaries and dramas, Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) is my favorite of his films.
Real-life nutjob Klaus Kinski was born to play the rodent-like vampire. As in Murnau’s 1922 silent film, the Dracula character is portrayed as a sickly, creeping, half-human thing, rather than as the upper class gentry popularized by John Balderston’s Broadway play and Bela Lugosi’s film adaptation of it. The whole film seems to take place in a misty day-for-night, shot on location in a port city in the Netherlands and with a real Czech castle standing in for the vampire’s Transylvanian home.
This is a European art film first and a horror film second — there are long sequences without any dialogue, and a beautiful droning score by Popol Vuh. I frankly wonder how many people at a midnight screening will make it through the whole film without nodding off. If you’ve never seen it before, fight the urge to fall asleep! If you have, maybe it would be an interesting experiment to give yourself over to the film, fall under its hypnosis, and come in and out of the film as the music cues stir you awake — the entire film unfolds like a nightmare you half remember.
Screening this week at the Coolidge Corner Theatre at midnight on Saturday, Feb. 24 as part of a Werner Herzog retrospective and the Coolidge After Midnight series.