Thursday, October 28, 2010


With Halloween weekend upon us…

Monster-of-the-Week: …it’s appropriate we acknowledge one of the all-time greats: “Count Orlok,” the first, albeit unauthorized, screen representation of Count Dracula, in F. W. Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terrors. This is the rare figure from silent film that genuinely has the power to spook me—I can honestly say that I’ve gotten creeped out, stumbling to the bathroom at night, imagining that I’d see this bald-pated goblin-Count standing at the end of the hallway glaring at me:

Your Humble Narrator went through quite a Kerouac phase in what Kerouac himself called “the beat and evil days” of my mid-20s. I later came to find much of his work exasperating, but I still think that the first half of On the Road is one of the great rushes in American literature, & I love the superb “Mexico Fellaheen” essay in Lonesome Traveler, & some of the other pieces in that book are pretty good.

I also admire his description, from a New Yorker Film Society program of 1960, of Nosferatu’s vampire:

The Count Nosferatu [sic] has the long hook nose of a Javelin vampire bat, the large eyes of a Rhinolophidae vampire bat, long horsey mouth looking like it's full of W-shaped cusps with muggly pectinated teeth and molars and incisors like Desmondontae vampire bats with a front tooth missing the better to suck the blood, maybe with the long brush-tipped tongue of the sanguisuga so sanguine. He looks in his hunched swift walk like he probably also has his intestinal tract specially modified in accordance with his nocturnal habits…the general horrid hare-lipped look of the Noctilio…small guillotines in his mouth. His hands are like the enormous claws of  the Lepornius bat and keep growing longer and longer fingernails throughout the picture.

You can watch the whole movie, here.

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