It's Thursday (officially, anyway :) ) how about we return to the ring an old favorite....
Or AKA this one...
Director-- F. W. Murnau
Writers--- Henrik Galeen
Brahmn Stoker (Novel film is based on)
Starring--- Max Schreck
Gustav Von Wagenheim
Company: Jofa-Atelier Berlin-Johannisthal
The Basic Scoop, The Poop, The Lowdown:
In the German city of Wisborg in 1838, a young real estate broker named Hutter is sent out by his employer to finalize a house-buying deal with a creepy-ass Transylvanian Count named Orlock but in the process gets a whole heckofalot more than he bargained for.
What's Pretty Good:
This flick is a classic for a reason. Despite the fact it's older and less-seen today than your Grandmama's stash of whips, chains, and ball gags, (except by ME...every week!) it has a solid cinematic style.
YES it's an old silent film but you can tell the dude (otherwise known as Murnau ;) ) knew what he was doing behind the camera. Even though his villain, Orlock/Max Schreck is seen on camera roughly a few minutes out of the entire film's two-hour runtime, Murnau gets the most out of it. Schreck totally and completely embodies the form of this "vintage" of Vampire, the exteriors and scenery are used expertly to "frame" his grotesque shape, shadows and light all work FOR the mood, NOT against it.This may be one of the few times when an archaic format and darker lighting overall actually makes the film more watchable.
You see quite a few sophisticated and modern filmmaking/and storytelling techniques that you may not necessarily expect...excellent uses of cutaways between different scenes and plot points for a film this old. Also for a silent flick, the acting isn't as laughably melodramatic as is common among films of this era, though there ARE still a few chuckle-worthy moments.
What Kinda Sorta Really, Really Sucks:
It's older than dirt.
(Seriously WYATT EARP was still breathing when this movie was made...I shit thee not!)
And...Uhh...duh it's a SILENT FILM!!
Which means: you'll be doing reading...A LOT. And you and me both know that we Americans (Nocturnal or otherwise ;)) think reading sucks. (Not to mention also knowing that bump in your pocket isn't really your wallet, and even though you SAID it's a jelly donut, there's no way in Hell I'm going to reach in and fish for it! Unless you pay me! :P )
The lack of sound and the pacing just might leave you feeling bored-out-of-your-balls at some point. A 1-in-5 chance you'll dose off.
The "Scare Factor" of this film (based on the high-bar zombie-ripping, brains-munching, sadistic-serial-killer throat-slashing, sexy-as-hell-and violent standard of today) pretty much is a 0=goose egg, but that may not be fair, given the limited technology standards (and prude censorship) of the times.
Also, as it's just been brought to my attention via a bloated text message "doctoral thesis" by our recent guest blogger Remster, I should point out and deduct points for the potential "subtext" of the film. His long-winded point shorted for digesting: made in GERMANY just three years after the end of WWI, and 11 years before the Nazis came in, lots of uses of RATS in the film, and the Vampire Orlock's undeniable connection to them and "infection." The "co-opting" of the ancient "Nosferatu" appearance of the Vampire to imply filth and evil and how that "look" is often applied to another more mistreated group of Humans in CERTAIN German state-produced Propaganda films, say, only a decade later.
AKA...the possible anti-Semitic angle. Is it there?? I dunno...YOU can be the judge.
WATCH Nosferatu over at HULU.COM!
Overall Film Grade: B
I think it's kinda nifty to take a trip back to the beginning of where the "Golden Age" of movies began, and where pretty much all horror movies and Vampire movies got their start. If you're a "student" of films, officially or not, you might enjoy taking this little two-hour trip back in time. But it's not for everyone.
If you're not a patient soul, you just might find yourself falling asleep after the first 30 minutes, but you'll still likely see enough of Nosferatu by then to know why it deserves its place in horror movie history.