Shadow of the Vampire

Shadow of the Vampire is a 2000 independent period vampire black comedy film directed by E. Elias Merhige and written by Steven Katz. The film stars John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe. It is a fictionalized account of the making of the classic vampire film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, directed by F. W. Murnau, during which the film crew begin to have disturbing suspicions about their lead actor.


In 1921, German director F. W. Murnau is shooting Nosferatu, an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Murnau keeps his team in the dark about their schedule and the actor playing the vampire Count Orlok. It is left to the film's other main actor, Gustav von Wangenheim, to explain that the lead is an obscure German theater performer named Max Schreck, who is a character actor. To involve himself fully in his role, Schreck will only appear amongst the cast and crew in makeup, will only be filmed at night, and will never break character.