By at October 23, 2008 | 6:41 pm | Print

OUR NEXT LIVE “PIECE BY PIECE”: The 1987 cult mini-classic, The Monster Squad! It’s the film that taught us “The End of the World Starts at Midnight,” co-written by Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black. See you Thursday Oct. 30 at 6pm ET. Pop in the DVD and join Allison!

Sensing a theme? Okay, yes — so far all the Piece by Piece posts have been vampire movies. This is what the peanut gallery wants so this is what the peanut gallery gets. You may ask, is there a peanut gallery or are those just the voices in Allison’s head? I assure you, there is a peanut gallery.

Shadow of the Vampire PosterAnd for this week, they chose Shadow of the Vampire starring Willem Dafoe who plays a vampire playing a human playing Nosferatu in a movie. John Malkovich plays Nosferatu director Murnau, who recruits a real vampire to give his Dracula-based film that je ne sai quoi.

The film also stars the spooky looking Udo Kier (what scary movie hasn’t he been in?), Cary Elwes (Saw, The Princess Bride), and comedian Eddie Izzard (TV’s The Riches). With these actors, my expectations for creepiness are high.

0:00 Slow and painful beginning credits. Just like old Hollywood times. Well-played.

0:04 Okay, can someone fast-forward this already?

0:06 Just a note, the beginning interstiles are completely true. Murnau, the director of Nosferatu got sued by the Bram Stoker estate for copyright infringement. The production company went bankrupt.

0:10 Why did film people wear lab coats back then? I guess silent film was an exact science.

cap0011.jpg0:12 I really like the beginning. Great style. It’s starting to get a little hokey, though. Like Malkovich appearing in the smoke, like he’s Simba or something.

0:18 Things are also starting to go as slow as the credits.

0:19 Oooo, midnight snack. Now things are getting interesting. And artistic! And now comedic!

cap009.jpg0:23 Man, I feel a bit terrified for Eddie Izzard right now. Dafoe is terrifying as Count Orlock/Dracula/Nosferatu/the vampire.

0:29 It’s just brilliant how Dafoe manages to be horrifying and funny at the same time. Watch it at least for those first moments where Nosferatu is being coached on how to act like a vampire. “I want makeup.” “Well, you don’t get any.”

0:40 The vampire has a creative music-crescendo moment with film. We saw it in Interview with the Vampire when Pitt gets to finally see a sunrise on film.

0:45 Apparently, Nosferatu was made to look more like a rat as a metaphor for the plague he would bring. I like him better than Tom Cruise.

0:52 When a guy eats a bat in front of you, you walk away. Just walk away. You don’t share schnapps with him. Please wipe the mouth of the bottle before drinking out of…aww, that’s just gross.

0:56 What the heck kind of accent is Cary Elwes using?

1:01 Malkovich: whine, whine, whine.

1:03 I kind of want him to just kill everybody already.The jokes are few and far between as is the suspense. The pacing is what kills this film.

1:07 I don’t know why they’re cutting between the one set of guys smoking a pipe, Malkovich sticking a needle in his arm, and Nosferatu opening the blinds on himself. And why does Elwes know every drug people are using just by the look of them?!

cap027.jpg1:15 Vampire seems to enjoy acting. How precious.

1:24 Malkovich has gone crazy. That was perverse.

I wanted to like this but what seemed like a potential masterpiece of black comedy was just a bit too dry. Still good and perverse enough to recommend. You will never think of Nosferatu the same way again. Nor directors, apparently the real bloodsuckers.

Addendum: Peanut Gallery makes a good point. This film had more vampire atmosphere and authentic vampire activity than any of the other Piece by Piece films we’ve done so far.


Oh, that’s what a vampire is!

Horror ,


  1. fossburger, 9 years ago Reply

    Willem Dafoe, also in eXistenZ. Just sayin, it’s a small world.

  2. Norm Schrager, 9 years ago Reply

    - fossburger –

    How awesome that you mention eXistenZ, and you even go out of your way to spell it correctly like that.

    One of the great unseen David Cronenberg films. How cool is Jude Law in that movie?

    -Norm S.

  3. CP, 9 years ago Reply

    I was just starting to think “piece by piece” referred to the vampire diet. In any case, after Halloween, I’d like to put a vote in for “Alive”.

  4. Allison, 9 years ago Reply

    Move towards cannibalism as a theme? Duly noted.

  5. fossburger, 9 years ago Reply

    Jude Law was also good in AI. That whole film was under-appreciated.

  6. fossburger, 9 years ago Reply

    And at risk of being lumped into the Peanut Gallery, I thought some Dafoe fans might be interested to know that he’s coming to the Brattle’s Gala.

  7. Norm Schrager, 9 years ago Reply

    - fossburger –

    Yeah, I like AI more than most too… and what’s wrong with being lumped into the Peanut Gallery? Allison tells me it’s a pretty together group.

    -Norm S.

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