Today, we present another guest blogger. Zodi and I know him from playing City of Heroes as the host of Rope Radio Show that we often times listen to while playing our spandex clad heroes. This is the first of three posts on the often romanticized vampires. So let us begin, here is our third guest blogger, Clay Evans.
Ah, yes. The famous obviously-in-broad-daylight courtyard scene, all the more ridiculous because Orlock is destroyed by sunlight later. Thus we come to regret the loss of the filter this segment of film was supposed to be processed with.
Now, Our Hero proves himself early on to have the approximate mental agility of a squashed grape. The character of Hutter is such a blithering moron, you find yourself cheering for the vampire by default. Yeah, skippy. The mosquitoes just happen to bite you twice, in parallel, after Orlock evidences bloodlust AND you read about the habits of vampires. Yeah. What a coinkydink, eh? Idiot.
Further evidence: when he’s finally caught a clue and is about to be turned into a tasty hors d’oeuvres by Orlock, what does he do to save himself – crucifix? No. Holy water? No. Stake? No. Nope, friends and neighbors, Biffy The Wonder Mule attempts to save himself by… pulling the covers over his head. What the hell is this? Is he being attacked by a vampire or The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast Of Traal?
Mind, he’s only in this predicament in the first place because he gets sent there by his boss Knock. What the hell kind of name for a character is Knock, anyhow? “Hi, I’m Knock. First name? Door.”
Yep, said boss is obviously about as stable as Charles Manson on greased rollerblades going down Telegraph Hill in an earthquake. But again, Hutter (“First name? Pizza. My dad’s name is JabbaThe”) evidences all the intelligence of a used prophylactic. “Duhhhhhh… okay, boss! Me bring back heap creepy Count. Duhhhhh.”
Then, of course, we have his incredibly neurotic wife Ellen. A woman who, when her about-as-intelligent-as-a-pencil-eraser hubby is heading off to *by his own admission* “a land of phantoms and robbers” (unuttered rest of that line: “What fun!”) does exactly four things: one, fails to club this fertilizer-brained goof over the head and lock him in the house until he comes to his senses. Two, when he *is* leaving, dresses in funeral clothes (okay, maybe she’s more prescient than we think). Three, wakes up from a sound sleep to attempt a telepathic hookup across an entire continent to warn her hubby that a vampire is about to turn him into a late night snack, already. I don’t know whether her warning actually did any good or not, or Orlock realized ingesting the blood of this insult to a compost heap might turn him every bit as dim-witted. Three, she sits on a bench by the sea, day after day after day (apparently) waiting for her moronic other half to come home. Never mind he didn’t go by ship, anyway. Fourth – and this actually happens at the beginning of the movie – she goes from very happy to see Wonder Iguana to a sort of glassy eyed stare, petting flowers hubby had thoughtfully picked for her from the garden. With the look on her vapid kisser, you’d expect the intertitle to read “Braiiiiinnnssss..”. But no, she says “Why did you destroy them? The lovely flowers…” Oy..
Moving on, we come to the Van Helsing of the piece, Professor Bulwer. We’re introduce to the good Prof when Hutter, happily hurtling along to Knock’s office to get the Orlock assignment in the first place, stops him in his tracks and intones “Not so fast, my young friend. No man escapes his destiny.” Why he’d want to keep this yabbering fool around, I have no idea.
Everything comes together at the end of the film, of course, when Ellen makes an admittedly courageous self-sacrifice for the good of everyone, giving herself to Nosferatu in order to keep him from his coffin until dawn breaks and he is destroyed by the light of the sun (the first ever mention anywhere, by the way, about vampires being destroyed by sunlight as opposed to being merely deprived of their special powers and advantages). Ellen sends Hutter off to fetch Professor Bulwer. Now, apparently this sort of thing is usual for the Prof, as he apparently sleeps, sitting up, in his chair with his suit on underneath his robe for just such an emergency. Oh.
Bulwer just sort of ambles along, and Hutter obviously gets fed up with this, as he finally leaves this schlump behind and runs ahead to be with his wife – who promptly dies in his arms as he gets back to her room. The next to last shot of the film is of Bulwer outside the room with this incredulous pout. “How dare she die before I can get here to save her?” he seems to be muttering.
But ya know what? This movie is just plain damn silly fun. Max Schreck made for, perhaps, the only truly original vampire ever as opposed to endless Bela Lugosi clones a mere six years and some later and his rat-like visage emerging from the shadows of the entrance to Castle Orlock proper is still striking to this day.
No violence to speak of. No breasts. Coffin fu. Idiot fu. Orlock fu. Doc Bob says check it out.