The good folks at Wild and Woolly Video started their new film series off with a blood-curdling gasp last night at the Clifton Center. This version of Nosferatu surprised me with the clarity of its digital transfer (I think the last time I saw the movie was on an old KINO VHS). Considering that Bram Stoker's widow had the original negatives destoyed, it's impressive seeing what our current technologies in film preservation are capable of. Coupled with the theater's sound system, this old-timer from 1922 felt new. This is how classic films were meant to be seen. The Eifler Theater is the same space being used for the Clifton's ongoing concert series, and the theater is just as suited for the type of films that will be shown.
There was a decent turnout, and many of the filmgoers had a laugh or two, I assume as a defense mechanism against the horrifying sight of Max Schreck as Count "Nosferatu" Orlock. I was reminded throughout of the film-within-a-film Shadow of the Vampire (2000), a great dark comedy in which Willem Dafoe portrays Schreck in all his pallid, eldritch bloodlust. The movie suggests that F.W. Murnau (played by John Malkovich) hired an actual vampire for the role of Count Orlock, to the misfortune of the locals and his film crew. Willem Dafoe revels in the role of Max Schreck/Count Orlock, and was even nominated that year for the best supporting actor Oscar. Try watching the original Nosferatu, followed by Shadow of the Vampire, for a wonderful inside look at the history of filmmaking and the evolution of a classic horror story. Also be sure to check the Wild and Woolly website for the next film in their series.