I recently had the pleasure of checking out a truly nasty horror flick: Shadow of the Vampire (2000) by Brooklyn director E. Elias Merhige. Not sure how this one slipped by me…but it kinda makes ‘Twilight’ and ‘Trueblood’ look like sit-coms. (It’s a fictional account of the making of the horror classic Nosferatu (1922), which I’ve always given the side-eye anyway.) In SOTV, a dangerously obsessive director (imagine that) named Friedrich Murnau (John Malkovich) gets ghoulish actor Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) to play the vampire, but turns out Schreck is waaaaay more of a method actor than anyone realizes.
Right from the opening credits, the atmosphere is good and thick. Dafoe’s actor character is half worst nightmare, half train wreck: beyond disgusting for reasons that are difficult to articulate — yet impossible to turn away from. It’s all about the invisible evil that Dafoe portrays as being far worse than anything you could imagine. (Brilliant actor, anyone?) Add to that John Malkovich being the nut we love him to be, a dramatic Eddie Izzard and a spectacular Catherine McCormack as the debauched, strung out, morphine-addicted leading lady. Good times.
Real talk: the unspeakably disgusting quality that Dafoe serves up is a fascinating thing of perverse beauty.
Have a nice day!