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A classic novel inspired by a real life killer gave birth to the first vampire film, “Nosferatu”; now NOS4A2 takes the sub genre in a new direction.

Vlad the Impaler

According to an article printed on http://www.livescience.com titled “The Real Dracula: Vlad the Impaler” by Marc Lallanilla, the story began around 1431 in Transylvania (or maybe Sighisoara). A boy named Vlad III was born and became the Prince of Wallachia. Three times he rose to power, but continually had to defend the throne. While defending the throne, he became famous for impaling those who opposed him — thus earning him the nickname “Vlad the Impaler.”

According to the same article, Vlad’s father belonged to the Order of the Dragon. The short version of the order’s name is Dracul. The literal translation of the name in Wallachian is “devil.” It was this translation that caught Bram Stoker’s eye, and served as the inspiration for the title of his 1897 book Dracula. The character Dracula was inspired by Vlad’s thirst for blood shed.

Fast forward 25 years, and Stoker’s book inspired the 1922 German silent film Nosferatu directed by F.W. Murnau.

The movie renamed Count Dracula to Count Orlok. The main character of the book, Jonathan Harker, became Thomas Hutter in the movie. Harker had a fiance in the book named Mina Murray, and in the movie Hutter had a wife named Ellen. Both stories have the main character preparing to make a move. In both the book and movie, Dracula and Orlok hide among the belly of the ship in a crate. Both have the crew gradually disappearing.

Dracula’s servant in the book is Reinfield and Orlok’s servant is Knock. Both are portrayed as crazed men able to foreshadow the coming of the master. Both the book and movie have Dr. Van Helsing as a character that offers vampire advice. The ending of Dracula includes Van Helsing and Mina killing the female vampires and Jonathan and Quincey killing Dracula. In Nosferatu, Ellen has read the book on how to kill vampires and knows she just has to keep Orlok with her until morning, which would cause him to die — which he does.

Nosferatu

The problem with Nosferatu is that it stole the core of the Dracula story.

It paid credit to Bram Stoker in the beginning of the film, but must have forgot to pay royalties to the Stoker family.

The case went to court, and according to an article by Jonathan Bailey titled “Dracula vs. Nosferatu: A True Copyright Horror Story,” all copies of the movie were ordered to be destroyed — except for one. Since the movie was in public domain in the United States, due to an error, it was legal to exist in the US. And the rest is history.

In 2013, author Joe Hill came out with a book titled NOS4A2 in which he turned the old classic on its head.

The book caught on and was made into a television series of the same name, which debuted June 2, 2019, on AMC.

The television series keeps the idea of the vampire. But instead of presenting him almost as royalty, as seen in Nosferatu, he is now just a guy. However, he has the power to appear as both a young man and an old man at different points in time. The vampire in NOS4A2 appears younger when the children he takes to “Christmasland” feed. In the television show, instead of being Count Dracula or Count Orlok, he is named Charlie Manx.

Few possess the ability, but there are some that have the special powers to take on Charlie Manx.

One of these people is Vic McQueen. Knowing what he is capable of, Vic seeks to challenge him. But he is looking to make her mother of the children that live in Christmasland. In Nosferatu and Dracula, the main characters were men — so it is a bit of a twist to make the main character a female. What is not a twist is the fact that this vampire is looking for her to be his wife or mother to his children.

Just like in Nosferatu, people fall under the spell of Charlie Manx. He lures them with the promise of candy and going to a place free of bad parents — a place where loner kids can have friends. Reinfield and Knock served as servants to Dracula and Nosferatu. But in NOS4A2, the servant is named Bing Partridge. He works as a school janitor, but all he cares about it making it to Christmasland. To accomplish this, he does whatever Charlie Manx wants and fears disappointment. The behavior of the other two servants was the same.

The answer as to whether to watch Nosferatu or NOS4A2 is easy — they go hand in hand.

Nosferatu was the original. It was the vampire movie that started it all. Once all but one copy of the movie was destroyed, it created a cult classic. It became the movie everyone had to see. For being a silent film, it is easy to follow the story and its characters.

For those just not into silent films (although this one should be given a chance), the modern NOS4A2 gives viewers a chance to enjoy a vampire film without even realizing it is a vampire movie. Plus it gives the watcher a vampire fix from week to week instead in just 1 hour and 30 minutes. The premise of both movies is the same: without blood, the vampire cannot survive. And without victims, there can be no blood.

If the original is considered a must see, then the television series should be regarded in the same light — assuming you like vampire stories.

While the first season of AMC’s Joe Hill adaptation NOS4A2 comes to an end later this month (with the first of the two-part season finale beginning this Sunday, July 28th), Shudder has recently announced that it will be picking up the series shortly after. So those who missed the AMC run (or who are eager to rewatch it) can catch the series on Shudder beginning August 8th. New episodes of the 10-episode series will be added every Thursday.

The show has also been renewed for a second season on AMC.

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