See A Classic Reborn on Halloween at the Circle Cinema
As one of the most well-known silent films (of which only 25% still exist), and the first vampire film ever made, F.W. Marnau’s “Nosferatu” remains a cornerstone of horror cinema. People were shocked. It proved to be an inspiration for the burgeoning German Expressionist era, most relevantly Carl Dreyer’s 1933 film “Vampyr.”
And over the last century, vampires never really left. Be it films, television, novels, or Grand Guignol plays. I got sick of vampires after a while, kind of like zombie burnout after they started showing up in Mastercard commercials.
But the history is there. From Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee, or a horned-up Frank Langella, all of whom portrayed the caped and conventional 20th century iteration of Count Dracula in their own ways, to more modern takes like the sexy sparkling vamps of “Twilight” and Gary Oldman’s lovelorn king in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992, aptly titled, “Dracula”—the character has been reborn for decades. “Nosferatu” was and is the seminal story that kickstarted an entire genre of film and a century of Goth kids.
Fast forward to the contemporary films, there were those feral, fast zombiesque, spurious characters from 2007’s middling “30 Days of Night.” John Carpenter, a horror legend, turned tropes on their ears by casting James Woods as a smack-talking Van Helsing backed up by a vampire killing crew in 1998’s titular, “Vampires.” There’s the spectacular sci-fi take that is the 2009 Spierig Brothers film “Daybreakers”—where Willem Defoe returns to the genre after playing “Nosferatu’s” OG star, Max Schreck, as a real bloodsucker, in 2000’s “Shadow of the Vampire.” The list, from “Near Dark” to “Blade” to “Let the Right One In” could go on for eternity, but eternity has always been the appeal of vampires.
So, in celebration of the Devil’s Holiday (bring your own lettuce), the Circle Cinema, 10 S. Lewis Ave., is doing it right with a 4K restoration of the movie that started it all, “Nosferatu,” in celebration of its 100th anniversary, accompanied by a live performance of an original soundtrack composed by The Invincible Czars. The musician’s collective has been crafting original scores for silent films since the mid- ‘aughts, starting with “The Nutcracker Suite” in 2004, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” in 2019, and their 2015 score for “Nosferatu”—and who have visited Tulsa before when they performed at Soundpony Lounge.
Silent German classics like “Metropolis” and “Der Golem” have had restorations and newly commissioned soundtracks over the decades since their release, from the likes of Queen in the ‘80s to Frank Black (as Black Francis) in 2012, for “Metropolis” and “Der Golem”, respectively.
I’ve listened to The Invincible Czars score for “Nosferatu” (you can find it on Spotify). The lilting melodies and symphonic instrumentation recall the antiquity of the era, and certainly befit the tone of the film, becoming another modern augmentation to a creepy, timeless classic.
Any way you bite it, it’ll be a good time.
There is something haunting and enigmatic about watching a time capsule film that still resonates. Especially one where literally everyone who made it, composed it, was in it, or had anything to do with it, right down to the littlest kid, are all dead now.
“Nosferatu” drops anchor on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, or $15 for Circle Cinema members. Visit Circle Cinema’s website for more details.