In the Shadow of Nosferatu: A Visit to the Filming Locations From Murnau’s 1922 Classic
As a horror fan and overall film nut, I know firsthand how exciting it can be to visit the filming locations from your favorite movies. From Martha’s Vineyard, where Jaws was filmed, to the alleyways of Georgetown, where much of The Exorcist took place, to the original Michael Myers house in South Pasadena, CA, these movie locations have and will likely always be popular destinations for film fanatics.
With all of the recent buzz about the Nosferatu remake (with David Lee Fisher in the director’s chair and monster regular Doug Jones slated to play Count Orlok himself), I thought it might be fun to give Dread Central readers a glimpse into my own history and fascination with Nosferatu (including the 1979 Werner Herzog remake, Nosferatu the Vampyre). And what better way to talk about a film than to journey to where it was made!
I first saw F.W. Murnau’s 1922 German Expressionist horror film Nosferatu (aka Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) with my mother back in the early 2000s. The copy we had at that time was the remastered DVD edition hosted by David Carradine with music by Type O Negative(!). Admittedly, I’m not much of a metal fan, but no doubt the booming sounds from Type O Negative (particularly the vocals by late frontman, Peter Steele) helped to burn a lasting visual and audible impression on me.
During and since those first viewings, I’ve dreamed of visiting the land where the film was shot so I could walk in the steps of Count Orlok himself and surround myself in what has always felt to me like an otherworldly place – something out of a dark and twisted fairy tale. Finally, in late 2015, I got my chance…and it was an unforgettable experience.
The majority of Nosferatu was filmed throughout Germany – though Murnau did shoot several scenes in what is now Slovakia. (The Slovakian exteriors were supposed to represent the Transylvanian countryside). Within Germany the production spent much of its time in the far north, specifically the towns of Lübeck and Wismar – both of which are gorgeous Hanseatic cities nestled along the Baltic Sea.
While traveling through Germany this past November, I spent two days in Lübeck tracking down the places seen in this iconic, German rendition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (much has been written on the history of the conflict between Murnau and Stoker’s estate) – from the Salzspeicher, or salt houses (buildings used to portray Count Orlok’s home in the fictional town of Wisbourg), to the historic home of Hutter and Ellen, the film’s supporting actors. Thankfully, during my trip I was able to hunt down more than just these two locations, all the while fulfilling a dream I’ve had since those days of first experiencing the film with my mother and, of course, Peter Steele!