The Face of Human Corruption: The Legacy of Max Schreck's Personification of the Vampire

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The vampire in film and television may be diverse, but the Lugosi image from Tod Browning’s 1931 Dracula remains surprisingly resilient and recognisable. However, it is not alone in its influence on the representation of the vampire. F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) presents a different image of Dracula – renamed Count Orlok (Max Schreck). While the influence was not immediate, the Orlok-image has fostered a distinct strand and narrative trajectory for the vampire, based on Orlok’s make-up design and Schreck’s performance.In this essay I will revisit the legacy of Schreck’s incarnation of the vampire in film and television, reconsidering its influence and significance. I will first examine the relationship between Murnau’s vampire and Stoker’s conception of his master vampire. I will then consider how this image has fostered a distinctive and lasting cinematic and televisual legacy that has run parallel to the Lugosi-tradition, emphasising the monstrous characteristics and meanings that continue to underpin the vampire on screen.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNosferatu in the 21st Century
Subtitle of host publicationA Critical Study
EditorsSimon Bacon
Place of PublicationLiverpool
PublisherLiverpool University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781800854024
ISBN (Print)9781800856400
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

Cite this