Dear Editor: The German silent horror film “Nosferatu,” which was released in 1922. The movie was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula” since the studio wasn’t able to obtain the rights to that work. In trying to cover their tracks and avoid a copyright infringement lawsuit, the folks who made this movie made some changes to set it apart from the source material. “Nosferatu” was used in place of “vampire,” for example, and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok.” Stoker’s heirs still sued over the movie, however, and a court directed that all copies of the film be destroyed.
Fortunately for posterity, one print of “Nosferatu” managed to survive that judicial order. Nearly a century later, the movie remains a powerful masterpiece of horror. IMHO, “Nosferatu” captures the best not only of the horror film genre but also of movies and in particular silent movies. Count Orlok (portrayed chillingly by German actor Max Schreck) only shows up for 10 minutes altogether yet he is both so menacing and memorable that he easily dominates the whole movie even when he’s nowhere to be seen.