He has always been a twitch more terrifying than Dracula - and he always had the scarier teeth. In 1922 Nosferatu inspired Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau to produce a silent movie that made film history, and until today hasn’t lost its eerie touch.
The legendary creature Nosferatu is by no means a normal Vampire. The way Murnau characterized him and actor Max Schreck (whose last name translates "fright" or "terror") played the role, even today largely contributes to the way we imagine this creature of darkness. Nosferatu's appearance, however, in no way resembles that of the stylish, common vampire. He represents a much darker world, and leaves us with a feeling of menace and heebie-jeebies that only arises with the unknown.
Even today, we know almost nothing about this fantastic creature. He is diffuse, obscure at best, originating in the depths of Transsylvanian folklore: the first Vampire. We don't know about his age or origin and this is what makes him real scary. He might just have existed.
But how did Nosferatu find his way to central Europe? Well, we owe his presence to a British Lady-traveller. You know: Unlike us, mythical creatures travel in stories and Scottish author Emily Gerard brought along this special tale from one of her frequent travels to Transsylvania in the late 1800s. Thus she layed the groundstone for the myth of the vampire in her 1888 book "The Land beyond the Forest. Facts and Fancies from Transylvania". In this book she recounts stories of the Transsylvanian population’s belief in a demonic creature and called it "Nosferatu". A name that seemed associated with all kinds of evil, such as the Black Death or Lucifer himself. How Nosferatu finally turned into a vampire will stay his eternal secret. All that is safe to say is that we do not owe Dracula to Bram Stoker. Yet the Irishman used Gerard's phantastic description quite crafty, to develop a fascinating tale around "The Count" when he invented his legendary "Dracula" in 1897. It may well be Stoker's impressive mixture of folklore, fantasy and realism that sticks with us today. And anyway: It probably wasn't "opportune" for a lady of the 1800s to travel alone, let alone invent horror stories...