NOSFERATU'S WEREWOLF -- the Complete Story -- with Bonus Content
Some years ago, like many aspiring writers, I made several attempts at screenwriting. The following is one example from a three-act treatment I wrote for a sequel to the silent horror classic Nosferatu. Maybe someday it will make a good novel.
Nosferatu (COUNT ORLOK), feeds on ELLEN, while her husband THOMAS HUTTER and PROFESSOR BULWER beat down the door to her bed chamber. The only weapon they have to fight the ancient vampire with is the rising sun. Hutter pulls back the drapes and lunges himself at Orlok to hold him transfixed, caught in the violent streams of the sun’s radiance. After a terrible struggle in which Hutter himself is caught by the burning incineration of the vampire’s living corpse, Orlok’s ashes are caught in a draft and blown out the window. With the aid of the Professor, Hutter survives, but the poor man’s wife, who made it possible to delay the vampire, is dead.
SUPERIMPOSE: Wisborg, Germany, 1838...
On a cold evening, as the sun sets and the moon rises high, ASHES gather outside the ESTATE of Count Orlok (sometimes called “Lebenshaus” by locals). Blown by a cold wind, they make their way into the home and toward the CRATES OF EARTH left there and undisturbed, where they mingle with the dirt. After the funeral of his wife, Thomas is comforted by his good friends HARDING and Harding's sister ANNIE, whom he entrusted Ellen with before he left Wisborg on assignment. Annie is most concerned about Thomas.
Back in the CARPATHIAN MOUNTAINS, Count Orlok’s ward JAGER arrives to find his master’s castle in ruins. Jäger travels to the nearby VILLAGE to find out what happened. When all the villagers avoid him (who know he is a werewolf!), Jäger finds GYPSIES who inform him that Orlok left for Germany and Jäger sets out.
SUPERIMPOSE: One year later…
THE INQUISITOR arrives to inspect the town, questioning Professor Bulwer about reports of THE PLAGUE.
Hutter and Annie have become romantically involved, both comforting one another over the loss of Ellen.
The Inquisitor is forced to accept Professor Bulwer’s fascinating account as the reason there is, in fact, no plague. But he decides to remain in Wisborg on authority of the Church to determine the story’s validity.
Jäger, now in Wisborg, must become the WEREWOLF. The transformation is quick and brutal. As his claws take form he tears at his own rotting flesh, revealing the creature beneath. And by the light of the full moon the werewolf hunts, attacking and killing several victims.
The next day the bodies are found. The KOMMISSAR consults with the Inquisitor and proclaims Martial Law, effectively barring anyone from entering or leaving the town.
Professor Bulwer and Hutter tell the Kammissar it is Orlok’s estate they should be searching, which he ordered seized and quarantined a year ago. Now, a troupe of guards keep watch. “It’s an empty building with nothing more than a collection of dirt” Hutter insists they need to burn it to the ground, something he has been trying to accomplish for the past year. The Inquisitor tells him to do so would be sacrilegious. The town’s original church first stood on that property. It was rebuilt elsewhere due to superstition, but to desecrate it further would incur God’s judgement. Hutter tells him the estate continues to be desecrated since it became Orlok’s property. The evil they are seeking is there!
The werewolf hunts again, this time killing Professor Bulwer and Annie.
It goes to Orlok’s estate, avoids detection, and enters, carrying the dying body of Annie. It sniffs out rats going to and fro, all about the crates of earth. It digs and unearths the newly reconstituted CORPSE of Count Orlok. The werewolf nuzzles at the corpse, whining for the life of its master, and a ghoulish hand reaches out to grab a rat, and brings it up to the thing’s mouth to feed. The dying Annie sees this and tries to call out for help, but the werewolf grabs her and takes her to Orlok, whose eyes open weakly. Desperate, the vampire sinks its serpent-like fangs into the neck of this feast. Seemingly dead, Annie falls away, then both master and werewolf rest.
Discovering the body of Professor Bulwer, and that Annie is missing, the next morning, the Kommissar and an angry and grieving Hutter and Harding fight with the Inquisitor to destroy Orlok’s estate. Knowing he can’t stop them, the Inquisitor convinces them to allow him to first sanctify the property. But they will have to do so before they lose the light.
Hutter knows that, aside from Harding, he can’t convince the others to wait to destroy the property after they have found Annie. He sets out ahead of them, knowing he will find her, alive or dead, at Orlok’s.
With the sun quickly setting, Hutter fights with the guards. But the Inquisitor arrives, alone, and dismisses the guards. He wants to know why the Inquisitor is alone but he’s too concerned about Annie. They enter into the foreboding darkness together, and find Annie’s body near the open crates of dirt, but nothing else. Hutter gathers her into his arms and weeps. And then the Inquisitor tells him why he has come to Wisborg – he has come to avenge Nosferatu!
Hutter looks up to watch as the Inquisitor’s face becomes the face of Jäger. The Inquisitor and Jäger are ONE AND THE SAME! He attacks Hutter and bars the doors.
Outside, the Kammissar and the townsfolk have arrived, banging on the doors, and the moon has risen.
Inside, Hutter struggles with Jäger, but someone is there to help. HARDING strikes Jäger with an iron rod and steps out of the shadows, explaining how he knew Hutter would come here and witnessed the Inquisitor take on the form of this devil. Jäger recovers and tells Harding he is no devil. He is the devil’s hound. He screams out in agony as his transformation begins.
Outside, the Kammissar orders his men to crash through the windows to get inside. They do so, but the windows are barred from the inside. It will be a fight to get in.
Inside, the werewolf has taken shape and swipes at Hutter and Harding. It growls at them as they turn to flee. But a FORM rises out of the darkness. All we see in that darkness is its eyes, glowing like an animal’s. Slowly it moves forward, and then BLINK! The form is suddenly there before them: Nosferatu – Count Orlok.
Harding falls away from the wide-eyed form and is gripped by the back of the neck like a pup by the werewolf, suspended. Hutter tries to run, but he is locked in place by an invisible force while Orlok stretches his talon-like hand toward him. Hutter reaches for his neck, remembering that the ancient vampire imprisoned his mind when he fed on his blood more than a year ago.
Orlok’s voice is soft and harsh, but he speaks forcefully. “You have cost me a great deal, Mr. Hutter. Better for you had you remained where I could return to deal with you at leisure.”
Orlok twists his hand and SNAP!
Dead, Thomas Hutter falls to the floor.
Harding screams for his friend and CRASH! The townsfolk have made their way inside, some with lamps. The werewolf bites down on Harding and then tosses him away before leaping at the crowd, biting off limbs, blood spattering. Harding crumbles near his friend, gasping for life as blood flows out of his wound.
A crowd attempts to grab Orlok but with one swipe of his talon-hand BLOOD SPURTS and many fall over, gripping their throats.
A fight for life and death ensues. When a few of the lamps are knocked over a fire spreads, making it possible for Orlok and the werewolf to escape with the apparent dead body of Annie. But he is cut off from his earth now, unable to restore his strength, and thereby vulnerable.
A few townsfolk survive, escaping the fire. With help, the Kammissar carries Harding to safety.
Pulling out, we see that the fire spreads from building to building, consuming much of the town.
Orlok and Jäger have found a lair in a cave within the mountains surrounding the valley in which Wisborg is nestled.
Annie awakens to a new eternal life of torment as Orlok’s consort. Horrified, she attempts to escape but discovers that when the sun rises she becomes as one dead, and therefore must, just like the Count, depend on the werewolf as her guardian.
Orlok orders the werewolf to dig her a grave in which to sleep, who does so reluctantly and resentful. By night the vampire has found a flock of sheep to sustain himself, Annie, and his werewolf, after killing the shepherd and his family. But by day Orlok is unable to rest within the earth of his homeland, and it is driving him mad.
In Wisborg, weeks have passed and Harding is recovering, although both he and the Kammissar fear his inevitable transformation. The Kammissar has sent out a search party after Annie but they have found nothing. Harding hopes he can find her himself as his transformation approaches.
Annie is growing hungry but refusing to feed, while Orlok attacks nearby villagers lured out by Jäger. Annie thinks she can appeal to something within Orlok that may be human. She tells him a story about a sister she had when she was little who drowned and how much she misses her every day. Orlok tells her a story of the brother he had when he was young, how he murdered him. When she asks him why he killed his own brother he tells her, “A kingdom must be led by a single ruler… There is no hope for you in your hour of desperation. I am the only authority by which you will be led… Hope is a luxury for the living.”
Armed, the Kammissar and Harding travel far from Wisborg in search of Annie and find both the shepherd’s farmhouse and the nearby village. When they figure the vampire is feeding on the remaining sheep and what humans he can manage, they decide on a plan of action. They will destroy the remaining sheep and force the vampire into the village, where they will set a trap. But the night sets upon them and they are suddenly attacked by two young vampires – the children of the shepherd! Not without appropriate weapons, Harding and the Kammissar fight and kill their attackers. Harding knows that his strength has increased because of the moon, and tomorrow night he will transform.
That morning a jealous Jäger returns to the cave, and just in time. Orlok’s madness is forcing him out of the safety of the shadows and into the burning light of the morning. While he was away, Annie (now strong enough to “live” during the light of day, but safe in the shadows of the cave) had tried to seize the opportunity to convince the vampire into the sun, but the werewolf returned and prevented his master’s destruction.
Later, Annie realizes her own strength is growing preternatural in scale. With Orlok fighting madness she attacks Jäger. As they fight the sun sets, the moon rises, and Orlok returns to normal as Jäger transforms into his werewolf form. Before the creature can tear into Annie with its full strength Orlok splits them up and promises Annie that tonight she will feed.
Earlier the Kammissar and Harding found lodging in the village. On legal authority the Kammissar ordered the villagers to huddle together at the church and secured Harding in chains. When the moon was high Harding finally changed. The Kammissar ordered men to stand guard while he and a few volunteers waited for the appearance of the vampire and his werewolf.
Unable to control herself any longer, Annie hopes she can use the hunger and the power to kill Orlok, and leaves the cave to do so.
Meanwhile, the Jäger werewolf has found the new Harding werewolf. Attacking, he kills the guards. As the two fight Harding is broken free from his chains. The two terrorize the villagers, who flee into the mountains. Annie finds the Kammissar fighting for his life against Orlok. When she intervenes both Jäger and Harding enter the scene. The Kammissar is outmatched and falls back to let the supernatural creatures fight it out. He lures them into the shepherd’s farmhouse, where he pulls Annie out, bars the doors and sets a fire. Mercifully, he uses silver bullets to try and put the werewolves down. But Annie, fully under Orlok’s control, kills the Kammissar. She opens the doors, stands back, and watches as Orlok and the werewolves under his control walk out.
The farmhouse burns down. Orlok motions and the werewolves run into the night, hunting the fleeing villagers. On the horizon, in the distance, the first signs of a pale rising sun glows. Annie looks at it longingly, a tear streaming down her face. But she turns to follow Orlok back into the safety of the cave.
Pulling out, we hear the screams of murder, and the howl of werewolves.
Fade to black.
Thanks for reading my three-act treatment for the sequel to the 1922 classic NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORROR starring Max Schreck. If you’re unfamiliar with that film’s story I have included it here below.
In 1838, Thomas Hutter lives in the fictional German town of Wisborg. His employer, estate agent Herr Knock, sends Hutter to Transylvania to visit a new client named Count Orlok who plans to buy a house in Wisborg. Hutter entrusts his wife Ellen to his good friend Harding and Harding's sister Annie before embarking on his journey. Nearing his destination in the Carpathian Mountains, Hutter stops at an inn for dinner. The locals become frightened by the mere mention of Orlok's name and discourage him from traveling to his castle at night, warning of a werewolf on the prowl.
The next morning, Hutter takes a coach to a high mountain pass, but the coachman declines to take him any further than the bridge as nightfall is approaching. Another coach appears after Hutter crosses the bridge and its coachman gestures for him to climb aboard. Hutter is welcomed at a castle by Count Orlok. When Hutter is eating dinner and accidentally cuts his thumb, Orlok tries to suck the blood out, but his repulsed guest pulls his hand away.
An iconic scene of the shadow of Count Orlok climbing up a staircase
Hutter wakes up to a deserted castle the morning after and notices fresh punctures on his neck which, in a letter he sends by courier on horseback to be delivered to his wife, he attributes to mosquitoes. That night, Orlok signs the documents to purchase the house across from Hutter's own home in Wisborg and notices a photo of Hutter's wife, remarking that she has a "lovely neck."
Reading a book about vampires that he took from the local inn, Hutter starts to suspect that Orlok is a vampire. He cowers in his room as midnight approaches, with no way to bar the door. The door opens by itself and Orlok enters, and Hutter hides under the bed covers and falls unconscious. Meanwhile, his wife awakens from her sleep, and in a trance walks towards her balcony and onto the railing. Alarmed, Harding shouts Ellen's name and she faints while he asks for a doctor. After the doctor arrives, she shouts Hutter's name, apparently able to see Orlok in his castle threatening her unconscious husband.
The next day, Hutter explores the castle. In its crypt, he finds the coffin in which Orlok is resting dormant. Hutter becomes horrified and dashes back to his room. Hours later from the window, he sees Orlok piling up coffins on a coach and climbing into the last one before the coach departs. Hutter escapes the castle through the window, but is knocked unconscious by the fall and awakens in a hospital.
After recovering, Hutter hurries home. Meanwhile, the coffins are shipped down river on a raft. They are transferred to a schooner, but not before one is opened by the crew, revealing a multitude of rats. Sailors on the ship fall ill, and soon all but the captain and first mate are dead. The first mate goes below to destroy the coffins, but Orlok awakens and the horrified sailor jumps into the sea. When the ship arrives in Wisborg, Orlok leaves unobserved, carrying one of his coffins, and moves into the house he purchased. The next morning, when the ship is inspected, the captain is found dead. The doctors conclude that the plague is to blame. The town is stricken with panic, and people are warned to stay indoors.
There are many deaths in the town, which are blamed on the plague. Ellen reads the book Hutter found, which claims that a vampire can be defeated if a pure-hearted woman distracts the vampire with her beauty. She opens her window to invite Orlok in, but faints. Hutter revives her, and she sends him to fetch Professor Bulwer, a physician. After he leaves, Orlok enters and drinks her blood as the sun begins to rise. Knock, who has been committed after having murdered the warden of a psychiatric ward, senses the threat to Orlok, but cannot escape his cell to warn him. A rooster crows, and the sunlight causes Orlok to vanish in a puff of smoke. Ellen lives just long enough to be embraced by her grief-stricken husband. Count Orlok's ruined castle in the Carpathian Mountains is then shown.
Nosferatu has been noted for its themes regarding fear of the Other, as well as for possible anti-Semitic undertones, both of which may have been partially derived from the Bram Stoker novel Dracula, upon which the film was based. The physical appearance of Count Orlok, with his hooked nose, long claw-like fingernails, and large bald head, has been compared to stereotypical caricatures of Jewish people from the time in which Nosferatu was produced. His features have also been compared to those of a rat or a mouse, the former of which Jews were often equated with. Orlok's interest in acquiring property in the German town of Wisborg, a shift in locale from the Stoker novel's London, has also been analyzed as preying on the fears and anxieties of the German public at the time. Writer Tony Magistrale wrote that the film's depiction of an "invasion of the German homeland by an outside force [...] poses disquieting parallels to the anti-Semitic atmosphere festering in Northern Europe in 1922."
When the foreign Orlok arrives in Wisborg by ship, he brings with him a swarm of rats which, in a deviation from the source novel, spread the plague throughout the town. This plot element further associates Orlok with rodents and the idea of the "Jew as disease-causing agent". Writer Kevin Jackson has noted that director F. W. Murnau "was friendly with and protective of a number of Jewish men and women" throughout his life, including Jewish actor Alexander Granach, who plays Knock in Nosferatu. Additionally, Magistrale wrote that Murnau, being a homosexual, would have been "presumably more sensitive to the persecution of a subgroup inside the larger German society". As such, it has been said that perceived associations between Orlok and anti-Semitic stereotypes are unlikely to have been conscious decisions on the part of Murnau.
If not for Providence, Nosferatu’s Werewolf would not have been written, much less conceived as a sequel to a film that may not have survived the early 20th Century outside Germany.
The press reported extensively on Nosferatu and its premiere. But this was the only Prana Film, the company who produced the movie. They soon declared bankruptcy after Stoker's estate, acting for his widow, Florence Stoker, sued for copyright infringement and won. The court ordered all existing prints of Nosferatu burned, but one purported print of the film had already been distributed around the world. This print was duplicated over the years, kept alive by a cult following, making it an example of an early cult film.
The film has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 63 reviews, with an average rating of 9.05/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "One of the silent era's most influential masterpieces, Nosferatu's eerie, gothic feel — and a chilling performance from Max Schreck as the vampire — set the template for the horror films that followed." It was ranked twenty-first in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010.
Outside of 1979’s Nosferatu the Vampyre there has been no expansion on the original. My idea was to continue with a franchise, as I saw an opportunity for a wider landscape of story-telling. My follow-up was to be NOSFERATU’S WITCH, a story involving gypsies.
At this point I’m not sure how this will develop. I intended this as a screenplay for a film. Writing a manuscript for a novel does intrigue me and maybe I will proceed with that someday. If so, Witch would surely follow and after that perhaps more. But it’s not a completely original idea. In the past ten years there have been at least two films in development. If either of those were to be received well you better believe there would be sequels. Still, I’m not ready to give up on the idea of a Nosferatu series. Which is why I’m sharing it here.
Thanks for reading.