Sunday, October 29, 2006

Overlooked Movies: Nosferatu the Vampyre

"Every gray hair on my head I call Kinski." ~Werner Herzog on working with actor and longtime "friend" Klaus Kinski.

Jonathan Harker is sent away to Count Dracula's castle to sell him a house in Virna, where he lives. But Count Dracula is a vampire, an undead ghoule living of men's blood. Inspired by a photograph of Lucy Harker, Jonathan's wife, Dracula moves to Virna, bringing with him death and plague... An unusually contemplative version of Dracula, in which the vampire bears the cross of not being able to get old and die.

Click here to watch the preview:

Click here to watch a clip from the movie:

Fun Trivia:
The scene where Nosferatu arrives in the city required thousands of grey rats. Real grey rats were unavailable and therefore white ones were painted grey and used instead.

Werner Herzog the director has a cameo as the person who sticks his foot into the coffin and gets his toe bitten by a rat.

As this movie was made long after the copyright to Bram Stoker's Dracula had expired, Herzog decided to restore the original names of the characters, while still following the movie blueprint laid out by F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922).

The coach that picks up Harker at the Borgo pass was a real hearse that was actually still in use in Bulgaria at the time of the shoot.

Klaus Kinski had to spend approximately four hours per day in make-up. Fresh latex ear pieces had to be poured for each day of shooting because they were destroyed at removal. Kinski, notorious for his violent daily temper-tantrums, had a very good relationship to Japanese make-up artist Reiko Kruk and was exceedingly patient and well-behaved during make-up.

Production designer Henning von Gierke, also an accomplished chef who enjoyed cooking for the crew, prepared the food for the breakfast shot himself.

The exceedingly difficult slow-motion shots of a bat in flight were not shot by Werner Herzog's crew but borrowed from a scientific documentary.

Fun Quotes:
Warden: The patient that came in yesterday is having a fit.
Van Helsing: Which one?
Warden: The one that bit the cow.

On Kinski
Kinski is an actor of legend, but unfortunately not for his onscreen performances. Here are some famous Kinski quotes and stories, real or not the man took those answers to the grave in 1991.

Kinski was an extremely hard worker and strove for perfection, but was frequently at odds with collaborators and directors, and rarely a team player. On one infamous occasion Kinski hurled a lit candelabra from the stage at an audience deemed insufficiently appreciative, almost burning the theatre down.

While shooting Nosferatu Kinski developed a huge boil in the back of his throat. The boil had grown to the point where breathing had become extremely difficult. Germany's health system gave the actor $5,000 to pay a doctor to treat the problem. The article claimed that Kinski merely took a knife, and took care of the problem himself. The actor was suddenly $5,000 richer.

Whilst filming Aguirre: The Wrath of God, irritated by the noise from a hut where cast and crew were playing cards, Kinski fired three shots at it, blowing the top joint off one extra's finger.

Kinski turned down the role of a German villain in Raiders of the Lost Ark, although he wanted to do a movie with Steven Spielberg, he thought "the script is as moronically shitty as so many other flicks of its ilk."

In 1977 he appeared on TV show Je später der Abend he didn't answer a single question during the interview and called the host Reinhard Münchenhagen "Herr Münchhausen".

His last stage appearances were in November 1971, part of his "Jesus Tour", a one-man show in which Kinski reinterpreted the Gospels with Jesus as a ranting psychopath.

The Quotable Klaus Kinski:
"One should judge a man mainly from his depravities. Virtues can be faked. Depravities are real."

"I'd have been better than Adolf Hitler. I could've delivered his speeches a lot better. That's for certain."

"My daughter (Natassja Kinski also an actor) has never forgiven me. for what, I don’t know, because for years, she won’t speak to me. She blackens my name in the press and makes me think abortion is an excellent idea."

"I actually get venereal disease more often than most people catch colds."

"As soon as I fuck a girl or she's sucked me off, I want to leave her immediately. If one sucks me over for so long that I let her sleep with me and she wants to cuddle up to me, I kick her away."

"I need love! Love! Non-stop! And I want to give love because I have so much of it. No one understands the sole purpose of my whoring is to spend myself totally."

Werner Herzog on Klaus Kinski:
"People like Brando are just kindergarten compared to Kinski".

Kinski on "friend" Werner Herzog:
"Now I absolutely despise the murderer Herzog. I tell him to his face that I want to see him perish like the llama he executed. He should be thrown to the crocodiles alive! An anaconda should throttle him slowly! The sting of a deadly spider should paralyze him! His brain should burst from the bite of the most poisonous of all snakes! Panthers shouldn't slit his throat open with their claws, that would be too good for him! No. Big red ants should piss in his eyes, eat his balls, penetrate his asshole, and eat his guts! He should get the plague! Syphilis! Malaria! Yellow fever! Leprosy! In vain. The more I wish the most horrible of deaths on him and treat him like the scum of the earth that he is, the less I can get rid of him!"

Herzog recently made a documentary about his releationship to Kinski called My Best Friend click here to watch the preview:


Becca said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

An it is a pity that this film has been overlooked. It's a clear homage to Murnau's Nosferatu, updated in a nightmarish scenario of a german city engulfed by plague and fog.

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome movie. I'm glad someone else likes it. I read many bad reviews of it in genre books before I saw it, and I don't understand why anyone would hate it.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen this?


Becca said...

Chris that is fucking insane. Thanks for further illustrating how crazy Kinski was. Any idea what he was saying? Best I can make out is mongoloid at the end.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what he is ranting about, but I do know he was apparently on something. had a link a while back to a site that had a top ten list of YouTube videos featuring drugged-out celebrities (James Brown, for example).

I agree, he is clearly calling someone a "mongoloid," and he is c-razy.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of KK~ a f*cking maniac to say the least.....Herzog's photography is nothing but brilliant. How many other films do you note where passage of time is shown via a mans journey and a sunset as he sits to watch and pass another long night.....Any other film would have faded or cut to the following scene. This Nosferatu is THE Nosferatu with no grief toward Murnau's film. Beautiful film making.

Anonymous said...

once, kinski attended to a german talkshow called "3 nach 9" and a freak out totally. first they interviewed him and he was normal but as his 15 minutes (everyone in that show gets 15 minutes) are over he screamed at the other guests they should shut up. after that he tried to fuck the moderator etc. great fun. they show it regulary on german tv.