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Vampire show offers free entry to blood donors

December 21, 2022

A new Berlin exhibition exploring the century-long legacy of the original vampire movie 'Nosferatu' will take visitors' blood for a complimentary ticket.

An eerie shadow cast on the wall of a staircase in the 1922 film 'Nosferatu'
The long shadow of vampirism has long haunted the human imaginationImage: Image courtesy Ronald Grant Archive/ Picture Library/IMAGO

The exhibition "Phantoms of the Night. 100 Years of Nosferatu" at the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg in Berlin is cooperating with the German Red Cross to offer blood donations to visitors to the vampire classic retrospective, where all blood donors will receive free admission.

The donations will happen monthly from December 21, which is the winter solstice and the darkest day of the year.

The next Red Cross-administered donation day happens on January 12, 2023, with further days to be announced during the next four months of the exhibition. The event will run through April 23. 

Celebrating a blood-sucking masterpiece

A hundred years ago, the silent expressionist horror film "Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror" premiered in Berlin at the Marble Hall at the Berlin Zoo. Borrowing heavily from Bram Stoker's "Dracula," the film, directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, altered details such as character names to avoid copyright infringement.

Why vampire stories simply won't go away

Despite these changes, a court ruling ordered all copies of the film to be destroyed. However, some replicas survived and the film is now regarded as a masterpiece of cinema.

In the film, the vampire Nosferatu stows away on a ship and brings plague and death to a port city. Only the blood of a girl can stop him. But as the young woman sacrifices herself and he sets upon her, he forgets that morning has arrived, and the sunlight dissolves him into smoke.

Countless vampire films and stories have followed this pattern — and the fascination with the bloodsucker continues to this day.

The vampire classic was most famously reprised in the 1979 remake by director Werner Herzog and was called "Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night," with Klaus Kinski in the title role. In an episode of the TV animation series, "The Simpsons," the evil boss, Mr Burns, transforms into the Nosferatu character and is described by Lisa as "the walking undead" and "Das Wampyr!"

A man playing Dracula readies to suck the blood of a sleeping woman
The 1931 film 'Dracula' follows the classic 'Nosferatu' vampire formulaImage: United Archives/picture alliance

Nosferatu's artistic legacy

The Berlin exhibition "Phantoms of the Night. 100 Years of Nosferatu" focuses on the German silent film's impact on the visual arts.

In the 1920s, artists like Andre Breton considered "Nosferatu" a key surrealist work. Its aesthetics were played out in the sketches for the set design, for example.

"[These] include motifs that call to mind etchings by Francisco de Goya, German Romanticism, and tropes from the fantastical art and literature of the early 20th century," write the curators.

In the Berlin exhibition, the images are juxtaposed with drawings, prints and paintings by artists such as Alfred Kubin, Francisco de Goya or Caspar David Friedrich.

One image featured is by Czech graphic artist Frantisek Kobliha, who, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's nightmarish stories, created a series of eerie etchings at the time.

Now, potential visitors to the show can get further into the demonic spirit by simply paying with their blood.

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.

Stuart Braun | DW Reporter
Stuart Braun Berlin-based journalist with a focus on climate and culture.