This Day in Horror History: March 4th

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This Day in Horror History March 4th edition celebrates the granddaddy of vampire films!

Nosferatu released March 4, 1922

F.W. Murnau knew he was going to be under fire when his 1922 classic, Nosferatu, was released. He and his screenwriter, Henrik Galeen, hadn’t exactly gone through the proper channels to secure the rights to adapt Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and though they changed a number of elements including the ending, it was still just a little too obvious.

Still, they carried on, filming from August to October of 1921, working to create one of the most original versions of a vampire we’ve ever seen.

Count Orlok, brought to vivid life by Max Schreck, was not handsome and refined as those who would become the norm. No, it only took one look at the Count’s visage to know that something was not quite right and that those elongated fingers and sharp teeth probably meant danger.

Murnau’s film was beautiful and brought out some of the most visceral reactions a horror film would produce in its audiences for decades. It was, in fact, banned in Sweden for 50 years due to its “excessive violence”.

And yet, for all of that, it was included on a list assembled by the Vatican proclaiming it to be one of the 45 best films ever made in the art category. It’s hard to believe the entire film was nearly lost.

Remember what I said about how he knew they were going to be in trouble?

Bram Stoker’s widow sued Murnau and after a rather public trial, he was ordered to destroy all of the prints and negatives of his film. The fact that he might have “missed” one or two is the only reason the film survives to this day.

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