The recent release of Werner Herzog's 1979 vampire movie Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht provides ample evidence that plenty of great films still remain unavailable on video. A remake of/homage to the Murnau classic of the same title, Nosferatu nicely blends its director's sensibility with that of its inspiration. Klaus Kinski steps in for Max Schreck as the ghoulish Count Dracula, who journeys, although it's never clear why, from Transylvania to the German hometown of Bruno Ganz and Isabelle Adjani. Kinski takes the wide-eyed, lonely maniacism of Aguirre, another excellent pairing with Herzog, to its logical extreme, making for one of the most demented, creepy vampire portrayals of a genre that's had its share of them. But Herzog's direction is what sets his Nosferatu apart. Using familiar elements in a new way, he creates a deeply unsettling film that doesn't rely so much on its power to shock as its power to disturb. By lingering uncomfortably on such images as a banquet table decked out for a feast in a town square overrun with rats, Herzog instills in his film a hypnotic, dreamlike quality. It may fail as a straightforward story, but its many other virtues allow this version of the Dracula tale to stand beside Murnau's Nosferatu, Tod Browning's Dracula, Hammer's The Horror Of Dracula, and the good bits of Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula as the best committed to film.

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