Somewhere in this year's epidemic of vampire pictures there was a character who had a World Health Organization grant to stamp out all suspect bats. Where is he?

The damn thing has appeared again, in Werner Herzog's "Nosferatu the Vampyre" with all the customary deteriorating real estate, aggressive-looking dental hardware, red splotches, frail ladies in white dresses and howling windstorms. Cute and creepy as the basic story is, it doesn't get any more interesting in the retelling. What we have here is an embarrassment of poverty.

Count Dracula, in this one, is about as silly looking as they come, with dead-white (or perhaps undead-white) makeup, freeform ears and spiral-shaped fingernails. Lucy, played by Isabelle Adjani, is also in a dead-white color scheme with black circles around the eyes -- she looks pretty, but definitely anemic. One cannot imagine that she would appeal to a bloodthirsty nobleman.

This time, the story has been laid in Delft, Holland, which is picturesque, in the early 19th century, which is more or less charmingly suggested in the costumes and horses. There is lots of fine scenery with eeriness suggested, as usual, by mist, dark clouds and natural noises.

However, it's still the old neck-biting routine. As reported by the international cinema, it is our No. 1 public-health hazard, and something should be done about it before one more Transylvanian bat is allowed to appear in the dark to victimize one more movie audience.

NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE -- In German with English subtitles at the Inner Circle