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Nosferatu (1922) – Episode 21 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew for this episode – Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we take our second journey in a row to Transylvania, this time to take in the silent scream splendor of Nosferatu (1922), the first cinematic version of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 21 – Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu is most definitely based on Bram Stoker’s novel, but it is just as definitely an unofficial version. The filmmakers intentionally avoided obtaining the rights from the Stoker family, hence, the names along with a few other details, were changed to protect the not-so-innocent. As a result of their unsuccessful subterfuge, Dracula becomes Count Orlok/Nosferatu (Max Schreck), Harker is converted to Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim), Mina is replaced by Ellen (Greta Schröder), Renfield is changed to Knock (Alexander Granach), and a new way to kill the undead is devised.

Directed by German expressionist legend F. W. Murnau, Nosferatu reinforces the director’s reputation as master of shadows. Jeff marvels at the shadows and shot composition of nearly every scene. This episode’s Grue Crew all agree that Henrik Galeen’s screenplay loses much of the character depth present in Stoker’s novel. Produced by Enrico Dieckmann and Albin Grau, Nosferatu was most influenced by Grau who also served as art director and costume designer, and even created some of the poster art.

It is hard to imagine Max Schreck as a normal human being after witnessing his portrayal of Count Orlok. In fact, many people over the years have speculated he was a real vampire.

Joseph makes sure we discuss Alexander Granach’s performance. His version of Knock seems to have set the mold for future portrayals of Renfield. Erin expresses her concerns for the dangers of one-dimensional female characters, such as Ellen, who represent pure good and whose only purpose throughout the film is to sacrifice herself for the benefit of everyone else.

All in all, they all agree. If you haven’t seen Nosferatu (1922), what’s the hold-up?

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is another James Whale classic, The Old Dark House (1932), selected and hosted by Chad Hunt.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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Dracula (1974) – Episode 61 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“You are now in my domain gentlemen, and you shall not leave.” Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issue of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions, but Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr are back, along with guest-host Joey Fittos, to take that familiar journey from Transylvania to England, this time as told by producer/director Dan Curtis in 1974’s Dracula.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 61 – Dracula (1974)

Originally released as Bram Stoker’s Dracula until the rights to that name were acquired for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, the film is now sometimes referred to as Dan Curtis’ Dracula. This TV movie was scheduled to premiere in October 1973 but was preempted by news coverage of an unfolding historical event and rescheduled for February 1974.

This episode’s Grue Crew discuss Emmy winner Curtis’ start as the creator and executive producer of the daytime, horror/soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-71). He then went on to direct and produce a number of horror-related movies in the 1970s: The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973), several TV-movie adaptations of well-known horror novels, and the theatrically released Burnt Offerings (1976).

Though your hosts find the script lacking in places, they do give props to frequent Curtis collaborator and horror icon Richard Matheson, who penned the screenplay for this version of Dracula. Despite this script’s faults, Curtis and Matheson do use a plot device lifted from Dark Shadows that doesn’t appear in Bram Stoker’s novel or any previous film versions but is used again by Coppola in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Academy award winner Jack Palance tackles the title role. Curtis and he had worked together before on another TV movie, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968). Chad, Bill, and especially Jeff, appreciate the feral quality of Palance’s performance, but Joey says, “He’s not my Dracula.” The rest of the cast – Nigel Davenport (Van Helsing), Murray Brown (Jonathan Harker), Fiona Lewis (Lucy), Penelope Horner (Mina), and Simon Ward (Arthur) – don’t have much to work with, possibly leading to their seemingly lackluster performances. The crew also point out that many of our listeners may recognize Sarah Douglas, one of Dracula’s brides, who later played Ursa in Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980).

When all’s said and done, Mr. Fittos gives Dracula (1974) thumbs down. Though Chad and Jeff admit it doesn’t hold up to impressions from their first viewings, the other hosts think it is worth the watch for Palance’s performance.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Golden Age of Horror – Episode 1 – Dracula (1931)

Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) introducing Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula is the topic of the first episode of the new podcast from Decades of Horror, The Golden Age of Horror. The monthly show will cover films from the beginning of horror cinema from the 20’s through the 50’s focusing initially on the popular, influential Universal Monster films. The show’s hosts Dave Dreher and Doc Rotten dive into the makings of the film and their fond memories of watching it for the first time as children reflecting on its impact and staying power.

Check out the podcast over at GoldenAgeofHorror.com.

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Golden Age of Horror 
Episode 1 – Dracula (1931)
(48:00, 22:35MB)
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