FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 9, 2007

Day 7- "..."


Many a moon ago, as I'm sure you recall because you hang on my every word, I posted a bit about vampires and my feelings on them. The short of it is: I'm not that into 'em, but I like the scary-looking ones because...umm...they scare me. Piper over at Lazy Eye Theatre touched on this same notion yesterday, and I'm pretty much in the same boat he is: the look of Nosferatu scares me, but the idea doesn't. Having said that, though, there's not much imagery out there that terrifies me more than Max Schreck as Count Orlok in Murnau's Nosferatu: eine Symphonie des Grauens (A Symphony of Horror). This guy is straight outta Compton your worst nightmare.

There's one other on-screen vampire that's made me cower in fear, and his look is based on Murnau's leading man (yes, I'm sure you know what film I'm talking about, and yes, I'll be posting about it later this month); nearly 100 years on and Orlok still rules. However did Murnau do it without CGI?

Nosferatu almost vanished from the face of the Earth forever as the courts ruled in favor of Bram Stoker's widow, Florence, when she sued for copyright infringement: all existing prints of the film were ordered to be destroyed. The movie was already making its way around the world, however, and several copies survived. As the film has long since been in the public domain, it's readily available- often of the poor quality you'd expect to find in a movie anyone can distribute for a buck. There are restored fancy-pants editions out there, but you can even catch a version in its entirety on YouTube (it's a...uh, Stokerized version, as the character names are all pulled directly from Dracula, which is cited as source material).

So what flavor of vampire floats your boat? The debonair, nicely-coiffed romantic type who sneaks into your bedroom, seduces you, and turns you into a vampire? Or the grotesque rodent-like monster who brings on da plague and only bites to kill kill kill? One I'd rather meet, given the choice...but as for watching, bring on the ugly!

9 comments:

Theron said...

My vampire of choice will always be Christopher Lee.

As much as I love the look of Orlok, as a kid he never scared me much - because I always thought one of the scariest things about vampires is that they look normal. Anyone could be a vampire...until the fangs appear. You can tell Orlok's just not right somehow.

Stacie Ponder said...

I LOVE Christopher Lee as Dracula, but he doesn't scare me. I think the argument can be broken down into aesthetic scares vs. idea scares, if that makes any sense. The idea of a vampire doesn't really frighten me for some reason, but the monster-ish ones do.

I took a "Gothic in German Lit and Film" course in college, and a lot of time was spent on The Great Vampire Debate. It's like The Cola Wars, the way it divides people.

Mariana said...

I'm still waiting for a proper movie version of Carmilla, where the vampire is female. It would so rule if a good director decided to take all that great imagery and characters and put it on film! I'm a bit (a lot) tired of male vampires. I loved the female vampires in Van Helsing.

Bill Walsh said...

Ipse dixi.

melizer said...

I'd have to say I'm definitely in the former camp rather than the latter. I adore Gary Oldman's portrayal. What a coinkydink, I had the new Collector's Edition of Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula on pre-order and it just arrived today!

I'll have to own up to enjoying Anne Rice's vampires also. I was in the probably more unusual position of finding a plain worn copy of her Interview With The Vampire on the library shelf without a dust jacket, both ten years after it came out and before the more recent popularity. I hadn't heard a thing about it, so the ruse that it was possibly a real account was enthralling.

I didn't realize The Count on Sesame Street was a vampire at the time, so my intro to vampires (when I was about ten) were George Hamilton in Love At First Bite and The Drak Pack Saturday morning cartoon! And of course Count Chocula.

I too don't find the idea of Dracula very scary, and I suppose it's because I wouldn't be in danger of dying, just in danger of becoming a cool undead monster :) I do naturally tend to go to bed at sunrise and wake at sunset if I don't have to stick to a 9 to 5 schedule, but that's about all I have in common with those you mentioned that like to pretend they are.

I read recently that Nosferatu was where the rule that vampires are hypersensitive to sunlight came from, "previously present neither in literature nor folklore". And that many people were convinced that Max Schreck actually was a vampire, being seen by the masses for the first time with the advent of film. Like maybe he came from the cave in The Descent!

Piper said...

I would have to say whoever played "The Master" in Salem's Lot. Probably because his make-up is a direct lift from Nosferatu. I guess the reason I don't like most vampire movies is that they're not scary. They're usually playboys or lesbians and that's just not scary. Hooper made his vampire scary because it rarely came out.

Stacie Ponder said...

The Count is a great example of how vampires are generally portrayed as jokey and benign- I mean, a vampire on an educational program and a cereal box? That kind of de-scarifies the monster when you're exposed to that kind of thing for long enough. Although I know people who were terrified by The Count!

You got it, Piper. I'll address The Master some time this month.

Jonathan Lapper said...

This is my first comment here as I checked in after reading Cozzalio's thingamabobber. What a totally fucked up blog. Great Job!!! An open invite is extended to mine anytime but given the level of spontaneous creativity going on here you'd probably just be bored to tears. Oh, and Piper, you'll enjoy Mr. Barlow, and he'll enjoy you.

Ciao. It's Italian constable, it means goodbye.

Queen Anthai said...

Time to delve REALLY DEEP into obscure 80's fad games with me, kids...

Back in Ye Olde Days Of the VHS, there was a Pressman Toys video board game called Doorways To Horror. It was unnecessarily complicated, but the premise would translate great to DVD today.

It was here that I first saw the "shadow shots" of Count Orlock...with those looooong taloned fingers...BRRRRRR!! You can imagine I was just a touch traumatized at the tender age of six. (I had also been traumatized a year earlier having seen Nightmare On Elm Street on Beta, but don't worry, we got a VHS in '86.)

I have a copy of Nosferatu in my DVD rack at this moment, and you know what? Last time I watched it, it was still very effectively creepy! One can only imagine the reactions of the moviegoing public eighty years ago. If any such reviews from so long ago have been preserved, I would love to see them!

(Also, bonus trivia: Wes Craven used a "Count Orlock Fingers" shot in New Nightmare. Go resident Freddy fangirl for knowing that, eh?)