Shadow of the Vampire

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

F.W. Murnau: I will not allow you to destroy my picture!
Max Schreck: This is hardly your picture any longer.

Shadow of the Vampire is a 2000 film directed by E. Elias Merhige, starring John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe.

Malkovich plays F.W. Murnau, the German director who sets out to make his most identifiable film, Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens. To make his somewhat lawyer-friendly take on Dracula, he hires the mysterious Max Shreck to play the vampire Count Orlock. Murnau knows that Schreck is a real-life vampire, and he's hired the actor to ensure a real-life performance. But, he's really bitten off more than he can chew this time...

Tropes used in Shadow of the Vampire include:

Roger Ebert: Schreck muses aloud, "I do not think we need . . . the writer . . ." Scenes like this work as inside comedy, but they also have a practical side: The star is hungry, and because he is the star, he can make demands. This would not be the first time a star has eaten a writer alive.

"They don't need to act. They need to be"

"Stupid cat!"

  • Our Vampires Are Different: They don't reflect in mirrors, but since they cast shadows, they can be caught on film.
    • Schreck comments that he cannot make other vampires (whether he is physically limited himself or just doesn't know how to is unclear), drinks alcohol in more than one occasion (and gets drunk by it), can feed on animals, and while he refuses to board a ship he manages to reach an island by plane (thus passing over moving water).
  • The Prima Donna: Greta is introduced as one at first, but quickly gets surpassed by Murnau himself.
  • Schrödinger's Cat: If we are to count "real life" as the source material, then the deaths of several cast and crew members, including Schreck counts.
  • Troubled Production: In universe: if making a film was already complicated (with the director and the main actress outdivaing each other), add an actual vampire to the mix and see the whole thing implode.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Let's just say this film plays very loosely with the facts.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Murnau, after Schreck kills cinematographer Fritz Arno Wagner, and producer Albin Grau. He expresses his cracked sanity as he orders Schreck to be killed via sunlight.
  • Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Murnau has to keep his cast and crew from falling prey to Schreck's fangs.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Schreck reads the book Dracula in order to study for his role, and is saddened by the scene where Dracula leaves a meal for Jonathon Harker, and remembers when he used to have servants to do such tasks for him, which reminds him of when he had a wife, family, estates etc, whereas now he's just a scavenger living in a ruined castle.
  • Writers Suck: After Schreck kills the cinematographer, he quips "I don't think we need the writer..."