Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Nosferatu A Symphony of Horror Full Sound – review

Director: F W Murnau

New Material director: Strephon Taylor

Release date: (this edition) 2010

Another day, another version of Nosferatu, this one boasting full sound. So, what does that mean? It means that as well as a soundtrack, the film boasts sound effects, narration and voice acting. And I felt a chill go through me before it even started…

You see, I remember watching (twice, unfortunately, once on the big screen and once for review) the risible Orlock the Vampire in 3D. Now, that had a few claims to fame. They had 3D treated the film (that actually worked, at least on a technical level), they had filmed new (and at times bloody awful - bat segue) scenes and they had added sound effects.

kitten moment
This was not as bad as that – no new scenes added and whilst there are sound effects they are appropriate and not gratuitous “giggling, growling, kissy noises”. So, other than some idiosyncrasies the sound effects were generally well done. The music was odd, however. Now I am not opposed to mixing things up. I rather like the Gothic Industrial Mix version of the film (though I am a Christian Death fan and that involved Rozz Williams) but a too modern soundtrack can distract from the film and the music has to be scene appropriate to work. This was a score by HobGoblin and there was plenty in this that didn’t work for me, such as the horror moments being heralded by an ominous metal refrain (too modern for me) or some overtly light-hearted pieces (too cheesy). However other moments were surprisingly effective – jazz pieces over the travelling to Transylvania, I’m looking at you as a prime example.

Of course I have avoided the biggest change so far – voice acting and narration. I was really worried about this and mostly I had a right to be. Whilst the very occasional voice worked the voice acting was often at Muppet standard. In fact one character sounded like Fozzie Bear and whatever possessed them to think that making Dracula (I’ll get to character names in a second) sound like a third rate cartoon villain was a bright idea is beyond me. The narration was even worse, absolutely inappropriate it sounded like a narration of the Whacky Races in tone.

come the dawn
That said the film didn’t outstay its welcome, what with coming in at just over 60 minutes. To put that in context, the Masters of Cinema/Kino restoration is around 93 minutes (and is absolutely the version you need to watch). Being an inferior, shorter print also meant that it did not look at its very best generally. The filmmakers decided to use the full English/Stoker character names rather than Murnau’s German names but did (unlike the makers of Orlock) keep the film centred on Germany, using the occasional deviation of calling the city Bremen rather than Wisborg. However, despite the occasional innovation (like the use of jazz in certain scenes) and the fact that this doesn’t stay around too long, all in all the (unintentionally, I assume) Muppet voices and misplaced narration distract from a classic movie. Stick with the Kino restoration or, if after a more modern score, the Gothic Industrial Mix. 3.5 out of 10.

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