Saturday, October 01, 2005

31 Days of Des' Horror Favourites: #31 Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror

Why I like it: Directed by F. W. Murnau, this 1922 classic was only the second film to adapt Bram Stoker's "Dracula" novel. It was an unauthorized adaptation and thus the title of the film and its monster's name: Count Graf Orlok. It was shot on location in Bremen which also is the setting of the film.

While I am not a raving fan of silent film this one has a brilliant and eerie soundtrack that seems to keep me interested. But the best part of this film has got to be the vampire. Max Schreck portrays probably the most terrfiying looking vampire in film history (pictured). Bald-headed, pale (even for black and white), sunken cheeked, long fanged and finger elongated, this is "the" true vampire. This is what scares children.

This film is, from what I know, is responsible for the "allergic to sunlight' part of the vampire mythology. Stoker's book only hints at weakened powers during the daylight hours. It's hard to put a theme of sexual dominance on the monster of this film as is the case with most vampire movies as it seems to only want to feed.

While the suave and sexy vampire is the one that caught on I prefer the demonic nasty who is followed by plague rats in this classic.

Check these out:
-The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-a silent German film that is so stylistic and beautiful to behold that it will be mentioned later in the list.
-Der Golem-yet another silent German film. This one tells the story of the Rabbi who creates a monster out of clay to protect the Jewish ghetto from Rudolf II's pogrom. It is impossible to find a nice crisp copy and most of its scares come from a modern interpretation after WW II but it is still worth a watch.
-Tod Browning's Dracula-Bela Lugosi takes his turn at the monster and makes it a legend. Discussed later.
-Shadow of the Vampire-A film proposing that Schreck was actually a vampire and looked like Nosferatu. A fun movie and bit of alternate history in its behind the scenes depiction of the making of Nosferatu.

5 Bitching, Moaning and Praise

Blogger Dav said...

Impressive opening to the month long salvo. I like the format.

I saw Nosferatu for the first time a few years ago on Halloween at the Orpheum with the VSO accompanying. That's one of those experiences that I know that I did, but I remember very little of, and whenever I'm reminded of it, I think, "That must've been interesting." I'm a human sieve.

9:05 pm  
Blogger Des said...

I was there too!

Crazy. It was an awesome experience for me because I only really enjoyed this movie after seeing it there with its original soundtrack being played live as the VHS copy I owned had the most dreadful music (and not dreadful in a good way.)

Thanks for the compliment. There is a great selection of movies in the first week alone.

12:19 am  
Blogger Stacie Ponder said...

I took a German Gothic horror class in college, and this was one of the films we viewed. Afterwards there was a debate as to which vampire is scarier: the suave wolf-in-sheep's-clothing type, or the grotesque, more demonic version. I'm with you: Schreck is far scarier than Lugosi! The remake with Klaus Kinski really ups the ante, too.

3:43 am  
Blogger Megan said...

Hmm.. don't know anything about horror, but the picture scared me! Did you get some of this info from your class in Glasgow? (I know you're a fountain of wisdom, but..)

Now, come to bed and cuddle me!

3:16 pm  
Blogger Des said...

A tiny bit of this info was imparted to me in Glasgow but most of the stuff I'll be talking about this month comes right from the ole noggin.

10:12 pm  

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