Recently, Variety.com revealed that a remake of director F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic silent horror film Nosferatu has begun filming, with the role of the titular vampire being taken on by the versatile Doug Jones (of Hellboy & Pan’s Labyrinth fame), and David Lee Fisher (known for remaking another silent movie, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) in the director’s chair.
The original film, starring Max Schreck, was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s seminal novel Dracula. However, Murnau’s film version had to be altered, as the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (those rights later went to Universal Pictures for Bela Lugosi’s well-known 1931 film). The story revolved around the plight of one young woman to save her true love’s soul, and in the process prevent a supernatural force from infecting the world. Nosferatu is considered to be the first true vampire film ever made, and has been widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films of all time.
Now that we have the exposition out of the way…. HOLLYWOOD! STAHP! Why must audiences be subjected to reboots of fantastic films? We KNOW they never truly pan out… One of the reasons that the 1922 film was so amazing was BECAUSE it was silent – thus forcing better direction, lighting, acting, etc. The cast had to capture the tension & terror of the story without being able to utter a word on screen. Pulling such a classic piece of celluloid into the modern era of film-making would, in this writer’s opinion, be a huge mistake for fans of the old black & white horror genre. I mean, c’mon! Does ANYONE remember the travesty that was 2004’s Phantom of the Opera? That one was SO poorly done, mainly because of the cast’s inability to emote with the same passion as was done in the original 1925 Lon Chaney version.
Sure, there was Mel Brooks’s 1976 comedy Silent Movie. However, that was done purely as a send-up of old silent films, and wasn’t trying to recreate the same feel of that era. Additionally, it wasn’t even completely silent. It still had the slapstick sound effects, frenetic music, and purposeful overacting that we expected from a Mel Brooks film. Part of its comedy was that it contained one spoken line – delivered by the famous mime, Marcel Marceau. Remember, though: It. Was. A. Spoof. It wasn’t meant to be a serious reproduction of a silent film.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Doug Jones’s body of work, but can he really live up to the incredible performance given by Max Schreck? Will Fisher be able to capture the feel of terror that made audiences in 1922 afraid of the dark? As a dyed-in-the-wool fan of classic horror, I have my doubts.
I can say with very little hesitation that this will most likely be…. Not-feratu.