Appears in: Nosferatu (1922)
Scariest moment: Nosferatu slowly creeps up a staircase, and all that's seen his side profile's reflection through candlelight.
When people think about Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, the image that first appears in their minds is that of Bela Lugosi in Tod Browning's iconic 1931 film adaptation. And we're not about to complain—Lugosi's performance is stellar. But is it the scariest, most mentally scarring version of the Count? Not even close.
That honor goes to deranged German actor Max Schreck's interpretation, as the slightly modified Count Orlok, in director F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent film masterwork Nosferatu. The stories about Schreck's obsessive method acting techniques are legendary, revolving around how he literally thought he was a vampire. That's all well and good, yet it doesn't deter from the man's insanely committed performance.
All Count Orlok has to do is stare at you and it's an immediate source of frozen paralysis. And Murnau, a first-rate filmmaker, uses Schreck's freakishness to his full advantage, framing the bloodsucker in shadows and emphasizing its penetrating eyes.