Nosferatu (1921), directed by F.W. Furnau, is the father of all modern horror movies. We wouldn't have the whole Twilight extravaganza without Nosferatu. It's a German expressionistic silent movie (what a mouthful), and it is unbelivably creepy for being ninety years old. It more or less follows Bram Stoker's Dracula plot, with a young man coming to work in a castle that's inhabited by a vampire. The creepiest thing is Max Schreck as Count Orlock. The scenes of him rising up from the coffin, lurking through the castle, or even his shadow moving across the walls are super eerie, and have become visual icons of our culture. I know that silent movies are tricky to watch, but this one is worth it. It establishes so many of the horror movie rules, especially in terms of vampires, that all of the movies play by today. One big difference, this is no sexy erotic vampire. This is a creepy killer parasite.
After you've watched Nosferatu, take a gander at Shadow of the Vampire (2000), a fictionalized film about the making of Nosferatu. John Malkovich plays director Murnau and Willem Dafoe was deservedly nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Max Schreck. Apparently, most of the cast and crew became convinced that Schreck was an actual vampire. The film was shot on location, extremely rare at the time when most movies were shot on lots, and Schreck preferred to stay in character throughout the entire production. Shadow of the Vampire combines a vampire movie with the tale of an obsessed man going to the greatest lengths to realize his dream of making this movie. Perfect for driving you to achieve your own lofty dreams, but hopefully in a vampire free manner!
Great watched back to back. Both of these movies will surprise you with their creativity and magnificent storytelling.