There is no disputing the sheer brilliance of F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu,” which set new standards in film making in 1921. However, there is a small concern with the need (as small as it may be) to update this in 3-D for today’s audiences, as well as the addition of small bits of comedy to the legendary classic. “Nosferatu: Orlok the Vampire in 3-D” attempts to restore the classic for the modern audience and, sadly, it fails miserably.
Modern camera technology was fairly recent when Murnau went to work on his adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” He changed the names of several key characters, but the story remains the same in this faithful adaptation.
If you have seen Francis Ford Coppola’s epic version, then you should have a blast seeing how far film technology has come since the silent era. Just don’t compare actors such as Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins to the likes of the talent that was available back then.
Don’t get me wrong – Gustav von Wangenheim is not a bad leading man as Hutter (though it’s Harker in the book), and infuses life into his role as the tormented real-estate man sent to Transylvania to strike a deal with Graf Orlok (the effective and creepy Max Schreck). At this late date, we all know how their encounter turns out.
The events that transpire in the film are done extremely well, considering the obvious constraints of the time. Murnau’s work still contains some truly creepy moments, setting a benchmark for the horror genre. Without this film pushing the envelope on the available technology, who knows what the genre would look like today?
For a solid 63 minutes, your attention is drawn to the screen – at least until the abrupt ending, which feels a little contrived. It almost feels as if the director ran out of funding for effects and threw something on the screen, but that is a minor complaint.
Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that Troma president Lloyd Kaufman is behind the modern bastardization of this 1921 classic. The 3-D is nothing more than a cheap gimmick that doesn’t even come off well: Having the glasses on doesn’t really add to the already pretty creepy picture.
To add insult to injury, bits of comedy get infused into the horror classic. Not your usual humor, but the lowbrow stuff that Troma is known for. That type of humor works quite well in most of their films, but they have no business tampering with classic films by adding cheap sound effects and a bat signal as a reminder of the Adam West series.
Sadly, this presentation of “Nosferatu” will not delight the hearts of the film’s admirers or get new people interested in the picture. It is essentially a waste of film and time- especially when people can rent a copy of the original uncut classic.