Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931, dir. Tod Browning) Art direction by Charles D. Hall
Max Schreck relaxing between takes & creeping everyone out on the set of Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror(1922, dir. F.W. Murnau) (via)
During the filming of Nosferatu, Schreck reportedly stayed in character at all times, even when the cameras weren’t rolling, and the cast and crew never saw him out of full makeup and costume. While this immersive approach to acting is commonplace now, it was unusual back then and his appearance & behavior led to wild rumors that Schreck actually was a vampire. If this photo is indicative of Schreck’s demeanor around the set of Nosferatu, the crew’s wariness was entirely understandable.
Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu the Vampyre (1978, dir. Werner Herzog)
“Kinski loved the work and for pretty much the whole time on set he was happy, even though he would throw a tantrum maybe every other day. He was at ease with himself and the world at the time and loved to sit with his Japanese make-up artist Reiko Kruk for hours and hours. He would listen to Japanese music as she sculpted him every morning, putting his ears and fingernails on. We had to do the teeth and ears and shave his head every morning and just seeing him with this enormous patience was a fine sight. I would walk in and sit with him for fifteen minutes. We did not talk, we just looked at each other in the mirror and nodded at each other. He was good with the project, and he was good with himself.
Though the film is close to two hours and Klaus is on screen for maybe seventeen minutes, his vampire dominates absolutely every single scene. That is the finest compliment I can give him for his performance. Everything in the film works towards these seventeen minutes. His character is constantly present because of the story and the images which intensify this sense of doom and terror and anxiety. It took fifty years to find a vampire to rival the one [F.W.] Murnau created, and I say that no one in the next fifty years will be able to play Nosferatu like Kinski has done. This is not a prophecy, rather an absolute certitude. I could give you fifty years and a million dollars to find someone better than Kinski and you would fail.”
-Werner Herzog, quoted in Herzog on Herzog
Dorothy Tree, Geraldine Dvorak, & Cornelia Thaw as Dracula’s brides in Dracula (1931, Tod Browning) (via)
“I was not alone.
In the moonlight opposite me were three young women, ladies by their dress and manner. I thought at the time that I must be dreaming, for though the moonlight was behind them, they threw no shadow on the floor.
They came close to me and looked at me for some time and then whispered together. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.
They whispered together, and then they all three laughed, such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of waterglasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on.
One said: “Go on! You are first, and we shall follow; yours is the right to begin.”
The other added: “He is young and strong; there are kisses for us all.”
-Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)
Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931, dir. Tod Browning) Art direction by Charles D. Hall (via)
“When I am given a new role in a horror film, I have a character to create just as much as if I were playing a straight part. Whether one thinks of films like Dracula as ‘hokum’ or not does not alter the fact; the horror actor must believe in his part. The player who portrays a film monster with his tongue in his cheek is doomed to fail.
In playing Dracula, I have to work myself up into believing that he is real, to ascribe to myself the motives and emotions that such a character would feel. For a time I become Dracula - not merely an actor playing at being a vampire. A good actor will ‘make’ a horror part. He will build up the character until it convinces him and he is carried away by it.
There is another reason why I do not mind being “typed” in eerie thrillers - with few exceptions, there are, among actors, only two types who matter at the box office. They are heroes and villains. The men who play these parts are the only ones whose names you will see in electric lights outside the theater. Obviously you will not find me competing with Clark Gable or Robert Montgomery! Therefore, I have gone to the other extreme in my search for success and public acclaim.”
-Bela Lugosi, Film Weekly, July 1935
Klaus Kinski & Isabelle Adjani in Nosferatu the Vampyre (1978, dir. Werner Herzog) (via)
“I never thought of my film Nosferatu as being a remake. It stands on its own feet as an entirely new version..It is a very clear declaration of my connection to the very best of German cinema, and though I have never truly functioned in terms of genres, I did appreciate that making a film like Nosferatu meant understanding the basic principles about the vampire genre, and then asking, ‘How am I going to modify and develop this genre further?’
The images found in vampire films have a quality beyond our usual experiences in the cinema. For me genre means an intensive, almost dreamlike, stylization on screen, and I feel the vampire genre is one of the richest and most fertile cinema has to offer. There is fantasy, hallucination, dreams and nightmares, visions, fear and, of course, mythology. What I really sought to do was connect my Nosferatu with our true German cultural heritage, the silent films of the Weimar era, and [F.W.] Murnau’s work in particular.”
-Werner Herzog, quoted in Herzog on Herzog