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Friday, 31 October 2014

Review and Trivia: Halloween (1978)

My all time favorite horror film is John Carpenter's Halloween so as today is Halloween I thought it would be fitting to review the much envied, imitated and loved horror films of all time.

Plot- Fifteen years before the main plot a six year old boy on Halloween grabs a butchers knife and brutally stabs his older sister to death. He is then sent to a mental asylum where he remains for fifteen years when he breaks out before stealing a William Shatner mask painted white and the overalls from a mechanic who he murders and sets off for his old home in Haddonfield, Illinois. The now grown up child, called Michael Myers...
Not that one
Michael Myers then stalks teenager Laurie Strode, (played by Jamie Lee Curtis in her first ever film appearance), with the idea to murder her and her friends. However Myers' psychiatrist from the asylum Dr Loomis, (brilliantly played by Donald Pleasence in one of his greatest roles), has to try and stop him. Although the plot seems extremely cliched and unoriginal there is a reason for this: this movie started the cliche. Halloween is considered the first slasher film, (a film where a killing murders the cast one person at a time), and many subsequent films such as Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street copied its formula. With Halloween though because of this there is some originality about it like the characters don't seem to be as cliched, (which I will come to in a bit), and sometimes a simple premise works. John Carpenter and Debra Hill knew that over-complicating the plot would make it unbelievable but they decided not to. A single killer going around in one night murdering people is not too far-fetched, for example Charles Manson did the same just seven years before Halloween was made. Although I do have a gripe about a plot hole where the creators only covered it up after the film was released. If Myers was incarcerated aged six how did he know how to drive which I would of preferred the answer to actually be in the film.
Donald Pleasence gives an excellent performance in the film
Characters- I'll talk about Michael Myers separately but the rest of the characters are really good. As you can already tell Donald Pleasence's character Sam Loomis is my favorite. Pleasence is a gifted actor no matter what film he is in and despite being paid little for an independent movie which seemed to have little chance of success he gave an excellent performance. He seems to be a realistic character and his fear of Michael Myers is a genuine one that makes the audience as well fearful of the masked murderer. When he gives the speech about his first meeting with Myers where he describes the killer's blank expressionless eyes and his pause just before he calls Myers evil is tense and makes you fearful of the killer. Jamie Lee Curtis also gives a good performance despite it being her first film. Her terror seems genuine and when she's interacting with her friends it seems genuine and her character is likable. You want her to get to safety and the fact that she is caring for two children at the same time makes her character more relate-able. Curtis already has shown that she can be a good actress at this early stage which has progressed throughout her career. The other characters, (that being Curtis' friends), also do seem relatively realistic with their dialogue and actions but it isn't as good as Curtis with at times appearing cheesy and forced. I find the boyfriend character played by John Michael Graham too cheesy and at times overacts but his acting's not too bad at times so it can be excused and he strangely his acting for when his character is impaled on the wall is quite good.
The killer Michael Myers
Michael Myers- Excluding the Evil Dead movies the antagonist is the most memorable character and Michael Myers holds this honor. Until Halloween if you had a singular human antagonist they would talk like in Dracula or The Exorcist but Carpenter and Hill made Myers a silent killer, (remember The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has multiple villains where only Leatherface was silent). His icy demeanor and slow walk puts you on edge where he gives the image of no mercy and that he some something entirely different from other regular people. Describing him as a robot would not be far from the truth with Myers being loosely based on the Gunslinger from Westworld which allows him to look more foreboding and deter any form of relation with the audience. Despite the mask his expressions even some distant with his odd leaning his head to the side after he has killed someone which seems that he cannot comprehend what evil he has done, (incidentally for Terminator 2 the T-1000 does the same thing in obvious homage to Myers).

Setting- Although filmed in California Halloween is set in the typical middle class American suburbia. This makes the film strangely more terrifying with it being in a familiar setting as before most horror films weren't in a relate-able place. The Universal and Hammer films were set in the Victorian era, Texas Chainsaw Massacre was in the Texan prairie away from people, video nasties like Last House on the Left were in houses away from towns as well as Night of the Living Dead being in a farmhouse. Films which could be seen in a normal setting like The Omen, Rosemary's Baby, Black Xmas and The Exorcist were in settings where you wouldn't find a family. Halloween brought it into suburbia and what could be more terrifying than a monster lose where your children live. In many respects it goes back to the B-Movies of the 1950s, which Carpenter loved, so it adds fear thinking that the killer seems to be at your door. Subsequent horror films began to be centered around suburbia such as Nightmare on Elm Street or areas which are associated with families like Summer camps with Friday the 13th.

Cinematography- Despite the low budget the cinematography is superb. The lack of a budget allowed a more guerrilla style of filming which seems more grittier and more scarier for the audience. With the produces unable to afford more cameramen Hill and Carpenter had an increased role in filming so they managed to use the camera to create fear. One such example is the opening where they literally put a mask on the camera and follows Myers through his eyes as he commits his first murder which puts the audience in the killer's view and stops them from shying away. My particularly favorite view though is at the end when Laurie Strode thinks that Myers is dead and the background is blurred. By the blurred background moves as Myers sits up and looks at her. As the camera is still focused on Laurie it makes you scared as it seems that it is in the corner of your eye.
This was actually named one of the scariest scenes in cinema history
There is also little blood. I believe that you only see blood briefly in the first scene. With a low budget they use careful lighting and shadows to let the audience imagine what is happening which is overlooked by many subsequent horror movies. Halloween can be seen as a psychological film: Michael Myers driving you to insanity. Throughout the film if you look carefully you can see him all over the film with only signs first viewing is John Carpenter's chilling score.

Trivia- Halloween is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Janet Leigh, the infamous victim in the shower scene of the film. Dr Loomis is even named after a character in Psycho. Another fun fact is that Myers is played by four people: six year old Myers is played by Will Sandin, masked Myers by Nick Castle, unmasked Myers by Tony Moran, (Castle looked to friendly to play an unmasked monster), and co-writer Debra Hill was the hands of Myers in the opening because they didn't want a child to hold even a fake knife. Critics have analysed Halloween as criticizing youth immorality with the promiscuous characters or the ones who drink and smoke being killed while Laurie Strode who remains innocent survives but this was unintentional and Carpenter has dismissed it, (makes sense as you wouldn't smoke or drink when babysitting). I could go on forever with trivia but I'll just mention one more. John Carpenter was a massive B-Movie fan and one of his favorite films was The Thing which the kids watch in the film. Carpenter would later go on to make the remake of The Thing a few years later.

Verdict- With Halloween inspiring successive horror films as well as showing inventive cinematography and acting from Pleasence and Curtis but with a plot hole and mixed acting from the rest of the cast I'm awarding Halloween 9.2/10.

Thanks for reading and please comment on whether you agree or not and for any suggestions.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Top 10 Movie Monsters

With the month of horror continuing I thought that it would be fitting to look at some of the most scary things that humans have created: monsters. Our paleolithic ancestors told stories of monstrous creatures on cave walls and in campfire stories and thousands of years later we still tell stories of the same creatures but in a different format. Since the dawn of cinema have we been interested in monsters and this will be a countdown of the best. However I'm not including human monsters, (so no vampires), but undead monsters will be included and I'm also discounting sympathetic monsters, (like King Kong), or anti-hero monsters from the list as we want the stuff of nightmares, or in a case or two some awe inspiring beasts. So let us look at my Top 10 Movie Monsters!

Number 10- The Giant Claw from The Giant Claw
If you want to laugh at this one it is perfectly fine; so did the audience in the premier of the film. I've included the Giant Claw just because of how bizarre it is, (it gets even stranger other than the look). A giant bird that can destroy a B-52 in one bite descends from space with an invisible force field to wreck havoc on the land below. The battleship like bird, (the film honestly compares it to a battleship throughout), downs planes and scorches towns and cities below as it flies around in a giant spiral pattern that covers the entire continental United States, (yes the film also claims that it follows a pattern of a giant spiral). After destroying the Empire State Building and United Nations building the military manages to use an isotope to bring down its shield so missiles can finish it off. The Giant Claw is just a unique gem in the B-Movie vault. Originally the studio had hired Ray Harryhausen to make the bird but he refused because of the low wage that he was going to receive so they went to a prop company in Mexico instead who made a marionette and the above was the result. Funnily enough before the bird appears the film is really suspenseful and serious but the cast did not see the bird until the premier. The star Jeff Morrow left early in shame in case someone saw him and reportedly spent the entire night getting drunk. Nevertheless the creativity of the Giant Claw cannot be insulted and I would gladly have that marionette hanging from my ceiling.

Number 9- The Gremlins from Gremlins and Gremlins 2
From Joe Dante's successful film series comes the Gremlins. Based on the Chinese myth of the Mogwai they start out as cute little balls of fluff, (like Gizmo in the two films), but if the three rules are not kept things can go bad. One, never let them get wet, it can cause more to multiply, two, never let them go out in sunlight as it can kill them and three, never let them eat after midnight. If they eat after midnight they go from a mischievous ball of cuteness to the reptilian monster above. With Gizmo being the only good Gremlin the rest under Stripe, (above), and Mohawk in the second film lead a riot of mayhem and destruction. Ranging from driving a snowplow through someone's front room, commandeering the cinema to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and hot-wiring a old woman's seat lift in the first film to genetically splicing themselves in the second to create a spider-Gremlin, bat-Gremlin and super-intelligent Gremlin they wreck havoc.Designed by Chris Walas each Gremlin is unique, especially in the sequel and is one of the best special effects to include prop monsters which spawned a series of copycats including Critters.
Number 8- The Kraken from Clash of the Titans
A monster created by the king of special effects Ray Harryhausen the Kraken is one of the greatest monsters. The original Clash of the Titans was filled with many different and unique which were all made by Harryhausen and his team. Brought to life by stop-motion the brilliant, alongside the Gorgon Medusa, brilliantly captures the story of Perseus, (even though the Kraken comes from Scandinavian mythology). This is one of the monsters that has to be seen to be fully appreciated and perfectly shows that stop-motion can equal and even surpass CGI in quality. The way that the Harryhausen captures the creature surfacing from the water to take Andromeda and how that he carefully shows the beast turning to stone after looking at the severed head of Medusa is a sight that has to be seen. If you haven't seen the original Clash of the Titans I would strongly advise it and for those who have: 'Release the Kraken!'

Number 7- The Tadpole Monster from The Host

From Korea comes a monster born out of human error after personnel from a US army base dump formaldehyde down the drain and into the Han River. After years the chemicals mutate a fish into a giant carnivorous beast. What I like about the Tadpole Monster is that is a normal creature, it kills out of the need to survive rather than malice or hatred. I love many things about this creature ranging from the slinky way it walks, the way it uses its tail to swing from the railings on the bridge and its mandible like mouth similar to a grouper fish. It has a very realistic and unique design which I have to give credit to the designers for considering of how similar recent monsters look. It also has some realistic behavior such as taking prey, (in this case the main character's daughter), back to its nest to eat later so it can have live prey. The first reveal of the monster as it drops silently from the bridge before bursting from the water to wreck havoc in its new territory is heart stopping and has you on the edge of your seat but the added factor of it possibly being a host to a new virus is a nice added feature. A warning to mismanaged pollution and the irresponsibility of the authorities the Tadpole Monster is another worthy monster.
Number 6- Pumpkinhead from Pumpkinhead
From a film directed by special effects artist Stan Winston comes the demonic Pumpkinhead. After a man's son is accidentally killed by a group of bikers in a hit and run incident a man goes to see a witch who promises that he can have revenge by digging up a disfigured corpse who the witch transforms into the disfigured demon Pumpkinhead. The monster then hunts down those who the man, (played by Lance Henrikson of Aliens fame), wanted revenge on. The monster only kills those who the Henrikson's character wants revenge on and whoever gets in its way. There is a twist though...Henrikson's character is forced to look through Pumpkinhead's eyes every time he makes a kill and the two's heads morph to resemble each other when a kill is made. Pumpkinhead is unstoppable except when Henrikson's character, (called Harley), get injured and he finally defeats the monster by sacrificing himself to stop the carnage. I love the design and idea behind Pumpkinhead, a sort of mix between the Alien and a Cenobite from Hellraiser with the unstoppable killing force of the Headless Horseman thrown in. With Stan Winston as director no wonder the film got one of cinema's most memorable monsters.

Number 5- The Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth 
Director Guillermo del Toro is famous for the monsters in his films but the Pale Man has to be his best. As apart of her quest to return to the fairy realm ten year old Ofelia must get the dagger in a room with the eyeless Pale Man in. Told by the faun not to eat anything on the table before the Pale Man she does so anyway and the monster comes after her. The way though that it is done is superb with the monster slowly placing his eyes in the palm of his hands before slowly ambling towards her and when he eats two of her fairy guardians it is truly a traumatic scene. The fact also that the Pale Man is a child eater adds even more evilness to the monster but as we only see paintings of his acts and not him committing them allows our mind to wonder about his devilishness. The monster is played by the same man who plays the faun, Doug Jones, and he does an excellent job of it with his posture and movement making the Pale Man extra sinister.

Number 4- Godzilla from Gojira
I just want to say that this is only the Godzilla from the 1954 original film and not the sequels or remake. This Godzilla was born out of Japan's fear and lasting nightmare of the atomic bomb which comes to haunt them as a fitting metaphor against the danger of the growing nuclear arms race during the Cold War. Awoken by nuclear bomb testing Godzilla leads a wave of radioactive destruction towards Tokyo as the Japanese military and government vainly find a way to halt the giant monster. I love this film so much and there are many harrowing details about it such as the hundreds of dead fish from radiation poisoning just before the reveal of the monster and a mother clutching her children close towards her saying ominously 'We'll be with daddy soon'. This film has a much darker feel than its more child oriented sequels and even the costume reflects this. A more bulky costume with blank expressionless eyes which stops any form of sympathetic bond between the audience and the monster; this is a monster that symbolizes the horror of nuclear bombs. The film even ends on a serious note with a weapon worse than the bomb being used to destroy the monster that the bomb created.

Number 3- Gill-Man from The Creature from The Black Lagoon
From Universal Studios comes one of the studios last great classics. An expedition to the Amazon to find the remains of a fossil with webbed hands go astray as the crew meet an amphibious monster who threatens to harass them and abduct one of the scientists, played by Julia Adams. The design of the Gill-Man is so classic and is easily recognizable but two men actually played the creature, Ben Chapman on the land and Ricou Browning in the water. Browning would have a tank of oxygen and had to stay underwater in a heavy costume as well as swim in the same costume for an extended period of time but he pulls it off with ease. Every scene the Gill-Man is suspenseful with it shocking the audience with a fanfare of trumpets to signify that the creature is here. I particularly like the underwater scenes where Gill-Man is hiding in the reeds, a stalker like moment which adds more mystery to the beast. In the credits a question mark was even used instead of the two actors' names to add a little more mystery to the monster. A warning to man to stay away from nature Gill-Man remains a truly inspirational monster and his redesign in Monster Squad is quite inventive.

Number 2- Frankenstein's Monster from the Curse of Frankenstein
You may be wondering why I chose this Frankenstein's monster instead of the Boris Karloff one from the Universal film. The answer is simple: that monster is sympathetic. This monster expertly played by Christopher Lee is truly malicious and a true monster. Even his reveal with Lee dramatically removing the bandage from his face shows the stark contrast from the Universal monster. With his face all cut up and decaying the Hammer monster looks truly terrifying and Lee's acting helps bring the performance even more scariness. This is a monster that will not play flowers with a little girl or ask to be friends with a blind man. Only in the later half of the film he makes it count by brutally murdering those who have wronged his creator, (played brilliantly by Peter Cushing), which makes this monster worthy of the number two spot.

Number 1- Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise
In space no one can hear you scream. A parasitic life form which attaches itself to your face to lay a serpentine creature in your chest so it can burst out this makes Ridley Scott's Alien one of the greatest horrors ever made. The sleek and almost metallic design of the xenomorph, designed by my favorite special effects artist H.R.Giger, the xenomorph blends into the darkness of the spaceships and bases of the far future ready to grasp a victim. The xenomorph has so many features that I can talk about ranging from the second mouth that smashes out of the main one and the acid for blood it is the perfect killing machine. One of my favorite scenes is in Alien where the captain is chasing the alien through the air vents as the beeps get louder and the alien approaches before it comes out of nowhere and the screen cuts out. Another is when the crew is eating a meal and the alien bursts bloodily and shockingly out of John Hurt's chest, a curious note is that the look on shock on the actor's faces are actual looks of shock as they didn't know that it would happen. Each xenomorph looms unique and I like the idea of each one taking a new appearance depending on the host such as the fast four legged one in Alien 3 that used a dog as a host or the mandibles in AvP: Requiem of one whose host was a Predator. With the xenomorph even being an allusion to rape this makes the creature even more terrifying and I strongly suggest seeing Alien and its sequel by James Cameron Aliens. With the Alien fighting the Predator and even Batman, Witchblade and Superman in comic book format the Alien is a terrifying monster and with the new game Alien: Isolation recreating the original fear of Alien it will continue this fear for years to come.

Thanks for reading and was there a monster that you thought should be on the list? Please leave comments below, especially if you want to know the runners up. Thanks for reading and I hope that I see you next time.

Friday, 17 October 2014

What if: Night of the Living Dead actually happened?

What if Romero's living dead actually stalked the Earth?
In 1968 one of the greatest horror movies ever made was released by new director George A. Romero. That film was Night of the Living Dead and inspired a whole franchise in the form of the walking dead who crave the flesh of the living. Its influence is profound with it influencing everything from The Walking Dead to Call of Duty: Zombies. Today we look at what would happen if the iconic film actually happened but with a twist. We sought of know what would happen if it happened now thanks to Max Brooks' World War Z but Living Dead happened in 1968 so we've refined it already but to refine it more we're going on the basis that the plague never leaves the continental United States. So let us see what would happen if Romero's nightmare had come to life...

Initial outbreak- As Barbara, (the first main character introduced in the film), sees the first undead in Pennsylvania we can assume that the outbreak starts here. Quickly the infection spreads across the state and into neighbouring states including New Jersey and New York which spreads the infection further. As seen in the film organised authority collapses with small isolated bands forming in farmhouses as people flee from the towns and cities which are now infested with the dead. Anarchy would rage through the states in the North in the initial few weeks as people would not know what to do. Most likely the federal and state governments would broadcast news advising people to stay in their homes and avoid anyone who is infected but with the dead tearing at the doors most would flee their homes and those too slow to get away would swell the ranks of the dead. With the highways stretching from the Atlantic to Pacific quickly the entire country would be infected as people flee from the North-East and those hiding bites turning and biting others. In the film Barbara and later Ben, (excellently played by Duane Jones), flee to a farmhouse. This would be a good idea as the distance from urban environments allows the undead to take more time to come after them so states with large areas of non-urbanised land like Texas and Utah would be less affected. With confusion about the origin and how it is spread would allow the plague to spread quickly across the nation and soon causes continental United States to collapse.
How would the government respond to the plague?
Government response- The government response would be minimal. As the outbreak erupts in Pennsylvania and as it spreads to the South the governments of Canada and Mexico would be able close the border and prepare themselves against the wave of undead. The federal government would immediately close airports and docks to stop the rapid spread as well as spreading public service announcements to stay in their homes and avoid the infected. Lyndon Johnson would still be President and would invite vice-President Hubert Humphrey and Republican Richard Nixon to form a provisional government to last until the problem gets solved. They would most likely flee Washington and set up government at the Peterson Air Force Base before fleeing to Alaska or Hawaii before resources dry up. Army and air force bases would be used as sanctuaries where the military would hide out until the plague dissipates and as the years drag on they would start to form their own little isolated communities and we could see a few mad captains like Captain Rhodes coming about.
The mad captain wouldn't be the only despotic leader around
Of course the government would use the military to counter the zombie epidemic but this would initially be limited. In 1968 the Vietnam War was in full flow and thousands of US GI were fighting in Vietnam and many others were stationed across the world where the US had interests including West Berlin and the Philippines. With the US army scattered around the world the government would resort to the National Guard. However the Guard would quickly fall as they would be ready for an armed fight not one against a horde of flesh eaters; in 1970 the National Guard had fired on a protest at Kent State University so if they had done this to a crowd jeering at them what would they do against a horde of possibly their friends and family trying to eat them? The army itself would experience mass desertions as many GIs would be disturbed as they would go from months of mental anguish fighting the Viet Cong only to be sent back to the US to fight the undead. Also actual tactics against the hordes would be inefficient. With it taking a while to realise that only a bullet to the head would kill a zombie many soldiers would either desert or add to the horde. As months drag by what was left of the government and army would collapse.
What would a zombie apocalypse be like?
Social response- Initial groups of survivors would band together like with the Cooper's, Ben and Barbara in the film. This would most likely occur in more agricultural areas and in small towns where communities were more close nit larger bands of survivors would exist. Race issues would still be prevalent however. Night of the Living Dead was released merely months after huge race riots swept the country following the assassination of Martin Luther King and some people still weren't used to the idea of working together with African-Americans. The film itself was impacted by issues as all the cast loved Duane Jones and were heartbroken about how the country had treated him because of his race and Jones even wanted the film to address this issue but Romero chose not to because he thought he 'was being hip', (something he later said that he regretted). In smaller towns where communities had sprung up to oppose the undead there could very well be small race riots, especially where segregation had previously been prevalent, which would allow the undead to swell their ranks. Other than small communities, such as the protagonists creating one in a mall in Dawn of the Dead, there would be small nomads and bandits. The nomads would roam around the now deserted towns and cities before looking for supplies before moving on whereas the bandits, like the bikers in Dawn, would prey on small communities where they would rape those in sight and steal their provisions before moving on. Slowly both women's and race rights would increase as the need to survive would be more of a pressing issue compared to past discrimination.

International response- It would be highly likely that the international community, specifically NATO aligned nations, would send briefly send troops to help fight the plague. Canada, Mexico, the UK, France and Israel would donate the most troops to help fight the undead and possibly even the USSR seeing a way to help thaw Cold War tensions. This help would most likely not last long after the coalition troops being turned. The WHO and UN would be under fire for not recognising the origin of the virus such as the Venus probe mentioned in the film as well as not doing enough to fight the virus. As the US government flees to Hawaii and Alaska the world would start to draw away from the collapsing United States and the continental United States would become a zombie filled no-man's land. The USSR would win the Space Race with NASA cancelling the space program after the zombies start to take over so we would see a Hammer and Sickle on the Moon instead of the Stars and Stripes. The Cold War would continue as normal as Britain, France, Japan and West Germany taking on the role of world protectors with their economies rising as the Western world starts to divert their original trade with the US to these nations. Of course their would be an economic slump for a decade without the US as the lack of imports and exports from the US would have a massive knock on effect. The OPEC Oil Crisis would still happen as the UK and France still recognise Israel but Communist China is admitted to the UN much sooner as it took Nixon to recognise Mao's China while France, Britain and the USSR had recognised Mao's China as the correct China years before. Like in World War Z Castro would welcome Cubans who had fled his regime back to Cuba in a massive propaganda coup but the still repressive nature means and the existence of the USSR would mean that Castro would refuse to democratise. Finally the Vietnam war would end much sooner as without the US supporting the South Vietnamese the North would easily take over the South with their Viet Cong allies but without continuous US bombing weakening the Sihanouk regime in Cambodia the Khmer Rouge wouldn't be able to seize control.
What would happen years later?
Years later- Eventually the undead would decline in number but a very different United States would emerge. With the Presidency and Congress moving to Hawaii and Alaska a new nation, the Alaskan-Hawaiian Republic, would form instead. The military would finally emerge and push back the zombies and any nomads or communities they encountered would join them. Two scenarios could emerge: the military reunify the US and prepare for elections but the country would be heavily decentralised and in fear of the dead or feudalism could come into play. Military commanders or despotic leaders of some communities would form mini-kingdoms like in Land of the Dead where a form of serfdom exists in the confines of an enclosure with guards stopping the undead from getting in and putting down dissenters. The US would be seen as a tribal nation like many nations in the Middle East in the 19th century with independent lords ruling over a city of people wary of the dead.

Thanks for reading and please comment for my next post which is a top ten. Continuing with the month of horror I will be doing a Top Ten Movie Monsters so vote for which monster you want. Human monsters like Michael Myers or humans given supernatural powers like vampires and Freddy Krueger are not being included though. Please comment and see you again.

Friday, 3 October 2014

A Tribute to Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror

One of the earliest, (and greatest), horror films
As a fan of horror movies I could not pass up the chance to review at least one horror movie in the month of horror itself. I wanted to do one of the early classics and was torn between The Cabinet of Dr Caligari but ultimately decided to review the movie that inspired an entire genre. For this review it is more of an analyse and an ode to this great film. A perfect example of German Surrealism from the 1920s let's see the master of the silent horror movie with Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror.

Plot: Nosferatu is a plot that you will know, The film originated as an attempt to adapt Bram Stoker's iconic gothic novel Dracula onto the silver screen although there was an earlier adaptation of the novel before Nosferatu. Two years prior, (1920), in Russia a Dracula film was released but unfortunately all copies of the film have either been lost or destroyed so we cannot possibly see the earliest adaptation of Stoker's novel. The director F.W.Murnau and the producers could not gain the rights from Stoker's widow but luckily they managed to rewrite the script including changing the vampire's name from Dracula to Count Orlok, although some copies released in the US had his name still being Dracula, and a few other characters names being changed. Although Murnau changed the ending about how Orlok met his end in order to further differentiate Nosferatu from Dracula but the ramifications of this change was giant.
Orlok meets his end in the rays of the sun with superb acting
 Murnau changed Orlok perishing in the sunlight, (with some of the greatest acting in a 1920s movie), as like in folklore evil is done away by the warmth of the sun. Before this vampires did not die in sunlight; quite often they were weakened like Dracula was in Stoker's novel. Even the Strigoii vampires of Romanian folklore were unaffected by sunlight! The impact of this scene allowed sunlight to be the archenemy of the vampire from other adaptations of Dracula, including the Hammer Dracula films, to the Tomb of Dracula comics and the Underworld films. The loss of the sun as a way to kill a vampire was only left out in one film that I know of: Coppola's Dracula, (there is another particular series but I decline to name it in a review to such a masterpiece).

Music: Of course silent films rely heavily on their music and generally it is purposefully melodramatic to help emphasise the emotions of the actors. Nosferatu however is subtle. It creeps up to you like a shadow in the night. Quiet until it is too late to escape. One particular scene springs to mind which perfectly shows the masterpiece of the music which is when Count Orlok creeping up a stairwell; his long fingers casting sinister shadows across the wall as his silhouette lurks menacingly further after his prey. The music is slow and filled with dread, perfectly capturing the nefarious deed to which Orlok plans to commit.
One of the most iconic scenes in horror movie history
 Orlok- Of course I have to talk about Orlok himself. He easily steals the movie and overshadows the rest of the cast. Played by Max Schreck he gives a stunning performance, possibly the best performance prior to the arrival of Lon Chaney. Nowadays we view vampires as suave, sophisticated and cunning but Schreck portrays Orlock as something different. He portrays him as cunning yes but someone who wouldn't seduce you like Christopher Lee in Dracula would or Kiefer Sutherland in Lost Boys. He acts like the classical bogeyman, creeping along with bony hands waiting to bite your neck. Schreck as Orlock perfectly shows what a folkloric vampire should be. Even the makeup on his face make him look like a rat, cunning and frightening. I particularly like one scene where Orlock walks into a doorway and completely fills the doorway, leaving no escape for the audience. It is a scene that needs to be watched to be appreciated.
A snapshot from the iconic scene
 Extra snippets- There is so much things that I love extra about the film such as the set is still around! The buildings is Wismar for example where Hutton, (Nosferatu's Jonathan Harker), departs for his life is still around. I cannot begin to say how many times I've seen scenes from the film in other aspects of the media including Spongebob Squarepants! For over ninety years this film is still influencing our culture and I find it mindboggling how amazing that is. The film was even banned in Sweden just because how scary it is which shows you don't need jumpscares and gore to scare people, just shadows and music. Nosferatu was even a lost film briefly. Stoker's heirs sued the film makers and the court ordered all copies of the film destroyed and for years another early adaptation of Dracula remained lost alongside many other classic films including a Frankenstein film dating from even before World War One! Luckily it turns out not every copy of the film was destroyed and we still have one of the greatest examples of the German Surrealist movement.

I am quite happily giving Nosferatu 10/10. For superb acting, being a fine example of German Surrealism, stunning music and for being one of the earliest horror movies alongside The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and The Golem it is easy to see why.