NOSFERATU's Schreck to be Examined (

By:Associate News Editor
Date: Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Source: Reuters

Later this year a new biography will land on shelves which examines at the life & work of actor Max Schreck who is best known for playing the cadaverous vampire Count Orlok in F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent classic NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORROR.

German author Stefan Eickhoff, who has written what he says is the first biography of Schreck, told Reuters, "Whoever hopes to discover a vampire will be disappointed, but they will find an actor of real skill and versatility. Yet he himself remains somewhat shrouded in mystery."

The biography Max Schreck -- Gespenstertheater provides a detailed chronicle of the career of Schreck, a civil servant's son who appeared in around 800 stage and screen roles. Glimpses into the man behind the actor's mask remain few and far between.

Contemporaries remembered Schreck, who was married but had no children, as a loyal, conscientious loner with an offbeat sense of humor and a talent for playing the grotesque.

After the release of NOSFERATU, Stoker's widow sued the production company for breach of copyright, and won a court order to have all prints of the film destroyed. Since it had already been distributed worldwide, this ultimately proved impossible.

Over time, "Nosferatu" became seen internationally as a landmark of early German film and the horror genre -- while Schreck's other work has languished in relative obscurity.

Schreck died of heart failure aged 56, and was buried in an unmarked grave near Berlin -- his birth place.

In 2000, E. Elias Merhige's SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE cast Willem Dafoe to portray Max Schreck as a real-life bloodsucker hired to star in NOSFERATU.