(A lil' blog on a dotty hill somewhere)

Wednesday, October 25

It's a Scribble Picnic Boo Fest!

The Secret History of Max Shreck

For this week's picnic, I decided to follow along with my Instagram theme of myths, folklore and fables for the online Inktober challenge. As I'm doing these in alphabetical order too (with Mummy being my last rendition), today's is based on the German-expressionist 1922 silent b&w movie, Nosferatu. I've never actually seen it myself but is considered today, one of the greatest movies of all time! In fact, there's a curious story behind its making that was almost lost in the annuls of history since Bram Stroker's family took the film production company to court over copyright infringement. While ordered to be destroyed, one copy had already been distributed and from that others were later made, eventually growing into a cult-like status for its dark romanticism and becoming a classic in its own right.

Although borrowing Gothic elements, it really is more drama and Hitchcock-like suspense than true horror per se, which, btw, I don't really like anyway, being far too easily scared by such!

Much credit is given not only to the cinemaphotography but to Max Shreck, the lead actor. Portraying Count Orlok, he stayed in character the whole time, on and off set, and is acknowledged as likely the first official character-actor. Decades later, a whole mythos developed that, actually, Shreck was quite possibly a closet vampire himself! He was too, curiously, known as having an off-key sense of humour and while married with no children, often spent hours walking alone through dark forests and renowned for his ability playing off-beat characters so well. Consequentially, a 'secret history' behind the movie and the man developed, even spawning a spin-off movie exploring that very myth!

So, how did you explore this curious Boo! theme? Perhaps some of you decided to avoid it altogether, I don't know. Let's find out...

P.S. Yes, btw, I still plan to visit everyone from last week! Please bear with me as I slowly catch up with everything else. Thank you so much!

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24 comments

  1. Hi Michael! :)) I LOVE your Nosferatu!! :) I'm a big vampire-movie fan and have seen the original silent. I'm more of a "talkie" fan though! :) The 1979 version with Klaus Kinski was quite creepy! I love all the Christopher Lee Dracula movies too, we did a Dracula marathon last October! I'm so happy to read the history of the film! :)

    Speaking of German Expressionism, this influences my creativity a lot. I'm also a Tim Burton fan, who is clearly into that style too. Everything in your post rings for me because we are also big Hitchcock fans!!

    Great theme and such a great sketch!!! Do you have a spot with all of your Inktobers so I can look at them?

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    1. Yes, Rain, just click on my instagram icon on side bar or follow the Mummy link then click on my name (a_dotty_hill) to see others! Thank you so much. Growing up in Uk, we got to watch The old Hammer House of Horror movies each week on BBC2 which was my first exposure to such and really my last proper indulgence as I find the modern movies not nearly as dramatically c since so little is left to the imagination, let alone building up that sense of foreboding that the old classics did so well. Peter Cushing was always my favourite! Thank you so much for your comment!

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    2. We all have a lot in common. Alex downloaded all the Hammer films he could find and we regularly watch them. Peter Cushing is brilliant. We actually watched Hammer's The Abominable Snowman last night and it was SO GOOD. I agree...the modern "horrors" are just shock, sex and blood festivals = BORING. Give me Christopher Lee and Vincent Price and I won't sleep all night lol! Throw in a twist of Peter Cushing and I'm happy as a frightened clam ha ha ha! :)

      The extent of my techie-ness is Blogger lol...so I will check out your Instagram link. I do have an account, but it's just to see other people's work! I love that you are doing fables.

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    3. Well, you can use IG to follow me and Alex then. :) Thx. Hee, love this: "throw in a twist of Peter Cushing and I'm happy as a frightened clam"

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  2. Great sketch and what an interesting post, Michael! I didn't know about Nosferatu. I used to enjoy Dracula movies in my teens...very different to the vampire movies we see today which I enjoy too.

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    1. I love the older Hammer House of Horror ones with Peter Cushing and such--so much more foreboding and far far better acted .I think too that the old colour or b&w ones worked so well for drama. Yes, so interesting about Nosferatu. I see it is is available on YouTube so maybe I will catch it at some point? :) Thank you.

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  3. Very scary piece Michael, I don't like horror movies myself. Thanks for the background info on this movie which I've never heard of.

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    1. Me neither, actuality, Christine. Lol. I like suspense and old horror but that is really far more like thrillers though. Thank you.

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  4. I'm familiar with 'Nosferatu' but have never seen it. Reading the story was so interesting Michael. Your art is awesome - just hope I never meet him in a dark alley!
    Hitchcock movies are good and, like Rain, Dracula movies with Christopher Lee were very interesting in my younger years!

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    1. Peter Cushing was always my favourite and loved his older Hammer movies, often with Christopher Lee. I never got into Vince Price as I don;t think he ever made it in those movies really. More of a US thing. And yes, I would loathe to see anything like this anywhere as am far too easily scared. hahah. thank you.

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  5. For as busy as you are, you really outdid yourself this week, Micheal. I love the history behind the character and, though I am not a lover of vampire movies, my whole family is so I do watch them on occasion. Your Nosferatu is superb and convincing and I hope I never meet anyone like him in real life, but love this exposure. Your are truly perfecting the ink drawings by doing the Inktober challenge ... I love coming over here to see your art and the art of your followers and like you, since Wednesday is my busy day, I have to wait a day to really revel in it all. Have a great week, Micheal (we are getting snow this week, are you?

    Andrea @ From the Sol

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    1. Wow, such a lovely comment, Adnrea. Thank you so much. You know, I am not terribly into vampire movies at all...except for the old 1960's ones from Hammer that had the likes of Peter Cushing and such. Those were more suspense filled than true horror though. Thank you for the inktober compliment. It is seriously challenging me and pushing me in new directions...as is coming up with the theme in alphabetical order, no less! Thanks again.

      Catching up now btw but still quite drained! I love my work, yet it can be quite demanding and I always have to give it my best. Passion, you know.

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  6. Michael I love your Nosferatu! Have to say I also have never seen the original, only clips of it, but "Shadow of the Vampire", the spin-off you referenced, IS a favorite of mine.

    It is such a wonderful time of year and the theme is just right, of course, for the season but also for Inktober! You've caught the mood of Nosferatu there very well!! I try to imagine what it must have been like for people seeing the original Nosferatu when there was nothing to compare it to! I mean, moves today can still shock, startle, creep and frighten us but to think of seeing one of the first before it was a film genre!

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    1. Wow, you make such an astute point there, Nicolas! It must have been utterly horrifying to see it on the big screen with the orchestra playing the back up music. I just watched a few clips on YouTube to get an idea of how he looked and used those for my inspiration. You know, one can actually watch the whole movie on YouTube since there was no copyright for it after all that. Maybe I should watch it but am seriously easily too scared...especially when a sense of foreboding..when things were left more to the imagination.

      There are two later Nosferatu versions and I've seen neither of those either. lol.

      Thank you for your lovely comment. I am slowly catching up and will visit your blog as able. I haven't even seen all Alexandra's Inktobers, come to think of it. Still a wee bit worn out but getting up to speed slowly.

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  7. I know I've heard that name before, but I've never seen the movie. The only vampires I remember were those from the soap opera "Dark Shadows". This guy looks a lot more threatening - I think you've captured the genre quite well. I think you've chosen such a great theme for Inktober - great time of year for it too!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lorraine, and I'm glad you are enjoying the themes. Only wish I had managed to do it every day! I've never seen "dark shadows" but will take your word on that.

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  8. So wonderfully creepy! Especially love the shading and shadowing.

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne for popping by and the comment!

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  9. Sorry I'm so late in my visit. We are leaving in the morning on a trip, and I've been packing. When you have a dog, you have to pack for them too...HaHa.
    Now for your Nosferatu is my first introduction to this. Guess I have lived a sheltered life...HaHa. Have never been into these movies, but the old black and white are much for scary that the new colored modern ones. I love your pen and ink...they are absolutely wonderful. I love the errie shadows...and no feet...just moving along....Yikes.. BOO!

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    1. Wanda, what an impressive comment for something you know so little about. Yes, as noted, not seen movie itself either and can;t remember last time I saw a vampire movie but def would prefer the older ones.

      Hah, you are always traveling up and down the coast. Hope it's fruitful. Thank you for you visit.

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  10. I am loving your inktober pieces Michael. They have so much character, feeling and interest to each one. Bravo.

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    1. Aw, that is so nice of you to say, Tammie. Wish I had done every day but c-est la vie. Thanks so much.

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