Shadow of the Vampire

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Shadow of the Vampire Movie Poster Image
Vampire satire has some creepy moments.
  • R
  • 2001
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Comic but scary vampire scenes, characters killed.


Brief nudity, scenes of decadence.


Brief strong language.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters abuse alcohol and drugs, scene of morphine-induced hysteria.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that despite Shadow of the Vampire's comic and satiric tone, there are some creepy vampire moments. Schreck drinks a bat's blood. There are some decadent performers in a nightclub, and some characters use drugs and behave in a manner that may be very upsetting. There's brief nudity and some strong language.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 October 26, 2014

Alternative history movie is interesting!

This film has a very limited audience...what casual moviegoer is going to rush out to see a fictional behind the scenes story about a 1922 silent movie? However... Continue reading
Adult Written bymetal321 July 7, 2009

Vile and Sadistic, Utterly without any Redeeming Value

I am usually the sort that yawns at violence in movies, but I thought the scene toward the end of this movie where the vampire murders a woman was incredibly vi... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byenglishrider4546 April 9, 2008

An Atrocious Interpretation of a Great Filmmaker

Perhaps I might be bias, considering that I am a great fan of F.W. Murnau and the original Nosferatu. Maybe I just didn't care for Malkovich, for whatever... Continue reading

What's the story?

The story of Dracula has been filmed dozens of times, but one of the most unforgettable is the silent German film, Nosferatu. Director F.W. Murnau was not able to get permission to film Dracula, so he changed all the names and went ahead with it anyway. His title character was so bizarre and creepy that there were even rumors that Murnau found a real vampire to play the part. SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE plays on this rumor. Murnau (John Malkovich) finds a real vampire to play the part. The director must race to finish filming before his star finishes off the cast and crew. The vampire (Willem Dafoe), introduced as "Max Schreck," observes to Murnau that "you and I are not so different." Both are single-minded in pursuit of their goals, regardless of the consequences for others. Both have a kind of everlasting life. But there are differences, too. Light is what makes Murnau's form of everlasting life possible -- he is always seeking the light he needs to be able to tell his story through film. Schreck is always hiding from light, which can destroy him.

Is it any good?

The highlight of Shadow of the Vampire is Dafoe's performance as Schreck. Unrecognizable under all the make-up, he manages to be witty, menacing, charming, and even sympathetic. Malkovich has the intensity for Murnau and is excellent shouting his direction to his cast and crew. English comedian Eddie Izzard is fine as the leading man. The art direction is superb, especially when we see them filming and the picture fades into a re-creation of the black and white original.

The movie has some witty jabs at filmmakers of all eras. Murnau responds to one crisis by saying that "It may be advantageous because it makes the crew very edgy and I like that," and there is a very funny exchange with Schreck about which members of the crew may be expendable. It makes some good points, but ultimately just stops rather than ends.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way that Murnau and Schreck were willing to sacrifice anyone around them to get what they wanted in Shadow of the Vampire. The leading lady tells Murnau that live audiences give her life while a camera takes it out of her. How does that differ from Murnau's view?

  • What does it means to say that someone is "chasing an altogether different ghost." Does everyone chase a ghost of some kind? Which ghosts were Murnau and Schreck chasing?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love vampires

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