Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) is sent from Wisburg to Transylvania to
sell a certain Count Orlok (Max Schreck) some real estate - in fact the
very house opposite to his own. Orlok is a creep customer though, he is
active merely at night, sleeps in a coffin all through the day, and where
are the bitemarks on Hutter's neck coming from? (Of course, the audience
has long found out Orlok is a vampire, but Hutter hasn't yet.)
Orlok heads off to Wisburg, carrying a wagonload of coffins, yet hutter is
left behind, locked in. Somehow he manages to escape, but exhaustion
renders him unconscious soon afterwards.
Meanwhile back in Wisburg,
Hutter's fiancée Ellen (Greta Schröder) starts to feel peculiar, as if
she knew about the hardships of her husband, and she even starts to
sleepwalk - partly because Orlok has put her under his spell. Hutter's
boss Knock (Alexander Granach) has been hit even harder, Orlok's pending
arrival has made him go insane - which is why he presently resides in the
Hutter makes it back to Wisburg on horseback just before
Orlok's arrival by ship, but he can do little to actually warn the
populace, and so, with the arrival of Orlok, a plague-like disease befalls
the city. At first, the citizen's blame Knock, who has since broken out of
the asylum, killing a guard, but he is hunted down and lynched by the
villagers - which has little effect on the plague though ...
a book in Hutter's possession that tells her the only way to kill a
vampire is if a sinless maid freely gives herself (and her life) up to him
and makes him stay with her until the first crow of the cock in the
morning - and thus, Wisburg is saved from the plague and the vampire by
her ultimate sacrifice ...
The (unofficial) first adaptation of
Bram Stoker's Dracula, and also one of the best if not the best
rendition of the story to this day. The film is full of creepy images,
many of which have become iconic over time, Max Schreck is quite probably
the spookiest vampire in horror history, and clever pacing, great
camerawork and a moody directorial effort all help to make this one a
classic for all times.