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Graverobbers steal Nosferatu director's head from German cemetery

In a macabre development worthy of a horror movie, the head of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau — the director of silent horror classic Nosferatu — has reportedly been stolen from his grave. According to Der Spiegel, Murnau's skull was removed from his family in Stahnsdorf, Germany, while the bodies of his two brothers remained unmolested. The German publication says wax residue was found near the disturbed grave, hinting at the possibility of occult intentions for whoever decided to steal Murnau's head.

Murnau died in the United States at the age of 42 after his Rolls Royce, which was reportedly being driven by a 14-year-old boy, hit a pole near Santa Barbara. He had directed several silent films in the United States during the 1920s, including The Last Laugh and Sunrise, but is best known today for Nosferatu. The movie, originally an unauthorized copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula, focuses on the vampire Count Orlok — a grotesque and nightmarish creature that sleeps in a coffin and terrifies the local townspeople. With its striking imagery and iconic images of Orlok's silhouette creeping through bedrooms, Murnau's 90-year-old movie is still held up as a classic of the horror genre, referenced almost as often in modern media as the book it's technically based on.