When I first gazed at a photo of Mohamed Merah, the madman who murdered seven people in and around Toulouse, France, I was struck by how much he resembled the character of “Nosferatu,” the vampire and the central figure in the classic expressionist German silent movie of the same name by director F.W. Murnau.
The bald head, the prominent nose, the lifeless eyes and the fang-like teeth -- Merah was a dead ringer for the Transylvanian ghoul.
Like Nosferatu, Merah was also a merciless killer who seemed to have not a whit of morality nor restraint – his murderous fury was almost mechanical, considering he even targeted innocent children.
Again, like the dreaded Nosferatu.
Merah, too, supposedly starred in his own “horror movie” – according to reports, the Al Jazeera news agency possesses a copy of a video that Merah himself filmed of his own horrific killings.
After much protest from the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the families of Merah's victims, the Qatar-based news service was pressured into not broadcasting what is surely to be a sickening piece of footage.
Now, there are worries that alleged accomplices of Merah might have the video also and may upload the nightmarish images on the internet themselves.
In a bizarre twist, Merah’s father in Algeria, Mohamed Benalel Merah, said he may consider suing the French government for his son’s death – the younger Merah died after a 32-hour police siege outside his flat in Toulouse reportedly as the result of a shoot-out.
In response, France’s foreign Minister Alain Juppe, angrily declared: If I were the father of such a monster, I would shut my mouth in shame.
Again, the link between Merah and a monster (Nosferatu).
The monster from Murnau’s 1922 film was much more frightening than the better known Dracula of subsequent Hollywood depictions which actually made the prince of darkness a suave, charismatic, alluring and sophisticated figure (like Bela Lugosi).
In stark contrast, the creature from Murnau’s film is physically repellent and utterly without charm or redemption (much like Merah himself).
However, Nosferatu is not real, Merah most definitely was – a real-live monster that spread misery death and suffering wherever he went. He was killed not by the rays of sunlight, or a stake through the heart, but rather by the bullet of French policeman.
Moreover, monsters are very much real – the worst such monster in the world right now is Syrian President Bashar al Assad, another amoral madman who also spreads death and pestilence, even ordering the massacre of innocent children (perhaps as the vampire would).