The head of FW Murnau, director of Nosferatu, has been stolen

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Jul 15, 2015, 12:21 PM EDT (Updated)

It sounds like the plot of a horror movie, but, sadly, it isn’t: The head of FW (Friedrich Wilhelm) Murnau, who directed the seminal vampire movie Nosferatu, was stolen from his grave in Stahnsdorf, Germany.

The Guardian reports that Murnau’s head “has been stolen from his family plot in a cemetery in Germany." The grave-robbing occurred in Stahnsdorf, about 12 miles south-west of central Berlin, according to Variety. The graves of Murnau’s brothers were reportedly not disturbed.

Wax residue is said to have been found near the grave, suggesting that candles had been lit, and a possible occult motive for the theft.

Because Murnau did not have the rights to adapt Dracula, he created Nosferatu in 1922 by tweaking the names and minor plot details of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. Nosferatu is considered one of the world's greatest horror movies to this day.

Murnau was portrayed by John Malkovich in the horror comedy Shadow of the Vampire, about the filming of Nosferatu—with a real vampire playing Nosferatu. 

Murnau died from injuries received in a car accident near Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1931; according to Wikipedia his 14-year-old driver had crashed the car against an electric pole. He was buried in Stahnsdorf. Also according to Wikipedia: Greta Garbo “commissioned a death mask of Murnau, which she kept on her desk during her years in Hollywood.” 

Perhaps it’s all the zombie movies I’ve seen, but grave robbing holds a particular horror for me. Here’s hoping that Murnau's head is returned safely to its grave. After all, that's why they call it a final resting place.