Welcome to the weekly movie thread, your place on the Avocado to talk about films! Have you seen something new in theaters? Caught a classic on streaming? Have very strong opinions and want to drop a hot take? This is the place for you!
This week we see the debut of the long-delayed Morbius! Soon we’ll see if this vampire movie set in the Marvel Universe is worth the wait.
Instead I’ll use this opportunity to look at another vampire film. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the landmark horror film, Nosferatu.
The F.W. Murnau film is an unauthorized adaptation of Dracula. Details were changed. The story, for example, now took place in 17th century Germany. Also it’s Professor Bulwer being summoned by the Hutters to defeat Nosferatu! It’s totally different! Despite that, Bram Stoker’s wife sued and had all the prints destroyed. Fortunately, like the under Count himself, a few reels managed to stay hidden, which is why we can see Nosferatu today.
It’s been pointed out that, in 1922, the world was just coming out of a four year long pandemic. It’s addressed head-on in this film, with “the plague” being blamed for Nosferatu’s victims. (Another change: drinking blood doesn’t turn victims into vampires. Rather, it kills them.) The whole city of Bremen goes on lockdown when people start dying, which is quite eerie to relive a century later.
The movie seems to have gained traction during the 1970’s horror boom, especially around the time of the Blue Oyster Cult’s song that recounted the plot of the movie. (“Mortal terror reigned/sickness now then horrible death” … cutting it a little close to the modern day, BOC.)
The vampire Count
Dracula Orlock was played by Max Schreck. For a while there, there was some doubt whether he was real… or perhaps he was a vampire! (Or maybe Shadow of the Vampire was the only time that was ever postulated. I’m not sure.) After all, “schreck” is German for “terror”. No way that’s real!
Anyway… yeah, that was his real name. Max Schreck did exist, and he also starred in movies that weren’t Nosferatu. Schreck had been in other films. He was in comedies, dramas, and adventure films. Nosferatu was his only horror role. Contrary to what you read on the internet, film print of those performances survive… so his only film legacy isn’t just Nosferatu.
And yet, this is how Schreck will be known for all eternity. Pointy ears, long fingers, and sharp rat teeth. So indelible is the make-up that it is Max Schreck for all time. Which… may unfortunately be a caricature of Jewish people.
Though I will say: he’s only on screen for 9 minutes.
I’m almost certain a good two minutes of that is that goofy scene of him running around town with a coffin under his arm.
So in honor of Mr. Schreck’s terrifying makeup, our bonus prompt: what is your favorite example of movie make-up?
Next week: 1992