Story is claimed to have been inspired by [Bram Stoker’s novel] Dracula. Action details the forages of a nobleman who is dead yet alive, making night time raids on human beings and compelling them to become subservient to him by sucking the blood from their necks, often plaguing them to death. His especial delight is a pretty woman.
Murnau proved his directorial artistry in Sunrise for Fox about three years earlier, but in this picture he’s a master artisan demonstrating not only a knowledge of the subtler side of directing but in photography.
One shot of the sun cracking at dawn is an eye filler. Among others of extremely imaginative beauty is one which takes in a schooner sailing in a rippling stream photographed in such a manner that it has the illusion of color. Empty shattering buildings photographed to suggest the desperate desolation brought on by the vampire is extremely effective symbolism.
Max Schreck as the vampire is an able pantomimist and works clocklike, his makeup suggesting everything that’s goose pimply.