Thursday, October 23, 2014


If the Halloween choices at the multiplexes this year don’t quite cut it for you, have no fear. Or rather, be very afraid—on October 25 at 7:30 p.m., Tempe Center for the Arts is offering one of the all-time great monsters of the movies: “Count Orlok,” the first, albeit unauthorized, screen representation of Count Dracula, in F. W. Murnau’s 1922 masterpiece Nosferatu.

The movie’s subtitle—A Symphony of Horror—has particular significance at the Tempe Center’s showing. The film will be accompanied by live music—Brahams, Dvorak, Wagner—performed by the Arizona Pro Arte Ensemble, under the baton of conductor Timothy Verville.

I’ve seen several of these live music/silent movie performances over the years, among them Eisenstein’s Potemkin, Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc and the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula (an early talkie, but made without a musical score). If you’ve never had this experience, I highly recommend it; both the cinematic and the musical sides are enriched. Details here.

And if you’ve never seen Nosferatu, you really need to put that on your movie bucket list as well. This is the rare silent film that still genuinely has the power to spook, or to spook me, at least. The rat-faced, dome-headed, baleful-eyed figure of the vampire Count, played by the unforgettable Max Schreck, is unnerving, more than 80 years after the film was made. I can honestly say that I’ve gotten creeped out, stumbling to the bathroom at three in the morning, imagining that I’d see this bald-pated goblin-Count standing there at the end of the hallway glaring at me.

But since Schreck’s original Count Orlok has already been a Monster-of-the-Week…

Monster-of-the-Week: …this week let’s acknowledge one of the many homages paid to him, in E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire, an uneven but wryly funny horror picture about the making of Nosferatu which suggested that Schreck (an excellent Willem Dafoe) really was a vampire…

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