Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu has the most horrible looking vampire of any movie ever made. It is hard to believe that when they made Dracula in 1931, they just picked Bela Lugosi and let it go at that. The connection between the Black Death and vampires, which antedates this movie, is emphasized. It suggests either that vampires were a supernatural explanation for the plague or that deaths from vampires were dismissed as being the result of disease. This combines ominously with the movie’s suggestion that there is a connection between the vampires’ need for blood and sexual desire, in which case vampirism might be a metaphor for syphilis. Count Orlok (Max Schreck) gets very excited when he sees a picture of Ellen (Greta Schröder) and speaks of her beautiful neck. The fact that she is a “sinless maiden” makes her especially erotic, so much so that she is able to keep Orlok drinking from her neck when he knows he should be getting back to his coffin where he will be safe during the day.  As a result, he gets caught by the rising sun and is destroyed.

A point of trivia: this vampire casts a reflection in the mirror, unlike in Dracula, for we see his reflection while he is drinking Ellen’s blood.

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