Werewolves, Vampires, and Cock (Three Gay Horror Stories)

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Murnau is using this new art form to do more than tell straightforward stories: this is an elevation of the medium towards art. On the morning following this scene, Hutter—presumably seeking a way to leave the castle—stumbles into a cellar in the castle, and discovers the vampire asleep in his coffin: he is horrified, and—pathetic fool that he is—leaves without even attempting to harm Count Orlok. In light of the erotic undertones of Nosferatu, this scene is interesting in the way that it parallels Orlok's visit to Hutter's bedchamber the previous evening: in each case, the visitor finds the occupant completely vulnerable in his bed, and in each case leaves without doing anything—without consummating, if you will, the visit.

That night, Hutter sees Orlok load his coffins onto a carriage, and depart at high speed for Wisborg—and, of course, for Ellen. Trapped in the castle, Hutter's only egress is the window of his tower bedroom, which looks out over a sheer cliff face with raging waterfalls below: it is a leap of faith, a jump into the dangerous, natural underworld. He ties his bedsheets together, lowers himself as far as he can, and falls, unconscious, onto the rocks. As promised, I'm going to pick up the pace for the remainder of the film: partially because I want to get out of this post in less than 10, words; partially because I think we've already discussed in my shallow, haphazard way many of the important themes and techniques; and partially because it is around here that Nosferatu begins, for me, to go off the rails in places.

The centerpiece of Act III is Orlok's journey, by sea, towards Germany: it is indeed a brilliant sequence, and we'll discuss it a bit below. Padding out this act, however, are two of the characters I find most problematic in Galeen's retelling of Dracula: Knock the Renfield character and Bulwer the Van Helsing character. We've glimpsed both of them before; I discussed Knock's earlier, fairly substantial scene above, but Bulwer also makes a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance early in the film, when he greets Hutter as the young man hurries through the town.

Here we see Prof. Bulwer lecturing his students on the mysterious and horrible workings of nature, and specifically on creatures that suck the life-force from others: he shows them a venus flytrap catching a fly, and a polyp catching prey in its tentacles. The connection to our main subject is obvious. And there are even some nice visual echoes, with the cilia of the plant reminding us of Orlok's teeth, and the tentacles of the polyp his fingers. Intercut with these scenes are shots of Knock, who has been committed to an asylum, having gone increasingly mad at Orlok's imminent approach.

Like Renfield in Dracula, Knock has taken to eating insects, snatching flies from the air and bonding with the spiders in his cell who trap insects in their webs and drink their blood. It's worth noting here that the " Jewish spider " was another popular anti-semitic image in Weimar Germany. Again, the parallels are obvious, and this is not necessarily a problem: this kind of non-essential, associative commentary on the themes of the main narrative was one of Murnau's many innovative choices, and it does add additional layers to Nosferatu.

Bulwer in particular, I think, serves a thematic purpose: he represents the limitations of logic, the man of science attempting futilely to understand and categorize the workings of nature. No, my issue with Knock and Bulwer is that they serve only thematic purposes: they have absolutely no function in the story. If these scenes were the extent of their screen-time, I wouldn't complain, but a truly ridiculous amount of Act V is dedicated to Knock, and none of it means much of anything: it feels like filler. Anyway, enough of my complaints: on to the good stuff.

From these scenes we cut to some truly gorgeous shots of Ellen, sitting on the beach and communing with nature. It's interesting that the intertitle tells us she is "pining for her beloved. The one coming by sea is Orlok , whose approach we suspect she—like Knock—can sense. Note the way she is surrounded by crosses—which traditionally ward off vampires—but she sits between them, leaving a passage wide-open between herself and the sea: the waves seem to be channeling straight towards her. It is impressive how many balls Murnau keeps in play here: while all of this is happening, we also check in on Hutter, who has been convalescing in a convent and is now ready to leave for home: his journey will be intercut with everything else that is happening.

Meanwhile, Knock has picked the pocket of his guard, and discovered conveniently a notice about a "plague" in the port towns of Transylvania—a plague that leaves its victims with strange marks on their throat—and is thus able to trace his master's progress towards Germany.

Murnau gets some fantastic shots of the ship and the ocean here—which I can only assume would have staggered audiences used to studio-bound productions—but the real beauty of this segment is the slow build-up of tension aboard the ship, as first one, then several, then all the crew slowly succumb to the mysterious "sickness. Finally, there is no one left but the captain and the first-mate. The captain stays at the helm, while the first mate goes below to investigate what's in those mysterious boxes they've been hauling.

NOSFERATU () | Independent Study in World Cinema

He chops into one of the crates with a hatchet, and rats start pouring out. Again, the rats serve double-duty as far as metaphors go: obviously, they symbolize plague, and the fear of disease; more importantly, however, the rats symbolize the German people's fear of swarming, socially-parasitic immigrants—specifically, Jews—coming from Eastern Europe to infect the West. Caricaturing Jews as rats, of course, was also common in the anti-semitic propaganda of Weimar Germany: there's no chance Murnau's audience would miss the racial coding here.

Finally, the first mate removes one more lid, and the vampire rises—stiffly, unnaturally—from his coffin. Those choosing to harp on the sexual metaphors at work in the film can certainly seize on the rather…stiffly erect…way that Orlok rises to attention. The first-mate flees above deck, choosing to throw himself overboard rather than spend one more second on the ship with this thing. The captain, resigned to his fate, lashes himself to the wheel, as Orlok emerges and we get what is probably the best, and most memorable, shot of the film:.

We do not see Orlok kill the captain—we do not see Orlok kill anyone— but we don't need to: this fantastically creepy sequence ends with the vampire moving across the deck—framed in rigging, the spider in his web—and Act III ends with an ominous title card reading "The deathship had a new captain. But a few comments…. This act opens with a lot of clever intercutting: Hutter rushing home, the Empusa making its way to port, and Ellen staring out the window in anticipation of…both? Again, it seems to be Orlok's approach she's sensing, and his lure she's feeling. Meanwhile, Knock, too, has sensed Orlok's approach, and takes this opportunity to kill his guard and escape.

While he's doing this, the Empusa has drifted into port, eerily, with no living soul on board: at nearly the same moment as Hutter arrives home, Orlok sneaks off the boat, carrying his coffin across town to the empty house he has purchased. The discovery of the empty ship—and the rats on board—prompts a lengthy investigation from the town officials, who read the ship's log, examine the bodies on board, and declare a plague emergency in Wisborg.

As it has been throughout the movie, the play of light and shadow—both aesthetically and thematically—is precisely and gorgeously achieved, with the figures in black, the houses in shade, and the sunlight gleaming off the lid of the casket. Back in her home, Ellen has discovered Hutter's book of vampire lore: an intertitle tells us that her husband had "made her promise not to touch the book which had caused him such frightening visions," but that Ellen "found it's strange force irresistible.

She must lure him to her bed, and keep him there—through the "sacrifice of her blood"—until morning. I won't belabor the paper-thin sexual metaphor here: I think we all get it. Her power is immediately reinforced, as Hutter discovers her reading the book, sees Orlok peering from his window across the street, and immediately collapses on the bed like a baby: Ellen is scared, but Hutter is the one who falls apart.

Meanwhile, an intertitle tells us, "Fear lurked in every corner of town. Who was still healthy? Who was sick? This would be the film's counterpart to Lucy in Dracula, but she's barely a character here.

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Ellen watching from her window, sees a parade of undertakers carrying coffins up the street. She goes back to the book, reads again the section about how to slay the vampire, and we see a steely resolve come over her face. The fear and paranoia that have overtaken the town now comes to a peak, as the townsfolk chase the escaped lunatic Knock all over Wisborg. This sequence is one of my pet peeves of the film, as it's indulgently long, narratively unnecessary, and thematically fuzzy.

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Again, Knock has served no function in the plot: he seems to worship Orlok, but he's done nothing to help him since selling him a house, and whether he's caught or not doesn't really matter. At the same time, however, Murnau seems to want to say something about how fear creates a mob mentality, and so he uses Knock to do it: we see old women gossiping about how Knock killed his guard, and how he's a vampire.

Soon, the menfolk of Wisborg are throwing rocks at Knock and chasing him through the streets. There seems to be a tone of judgment in Murnau's depiction of these events. They chose Knock.

NOSFERATU (1922)

However—given the rest of the film—I find it problematic and unconvincing. After all the blatantly anti-semitic imagery throughout the movie—which Murnau has used to ramp up the fear—it's a little late in the game to be chastising the people of Wisborg for their prejudices. Besides, as scapegoats go, Knock is a pretty fair candidate within the story we've been told: he did murder his guard, and he did help bring this danger down on the town in the first place. Honestly, this whole segment feels like an unnecessary and unearned feint at social-commentary that the film would be better off without.

Certainly the fates of Knock and Orlok follow this trajectory: the former is defeated—for no real purpose—by a mob of men, and the second is destroyed by a woman. It is also, perhaps, a prioritizing of the individual over the societal: the collective response to the crisis is wrong-minded and futile, while it is the personal understanding—and sacrifices—of one person that ultimately saves everyone.

So let's look, finally, at that event. While the idiot men are off chasing Knock, and while her idiot husband is asleep in the chair in her bedroom—he is not in the bed with her, significantly—Ellen bolts awake, and goes, once more, to the closed window. She seems to have a brief moment of indecision, in which she looks to her husband asleep in the chair, and then she turns…and flings open the window.

Across the way, Orlok has understood: he has been invited. The ambiguity in this scene is nothing short of brilliant. Audience members who chose to see a noble German woman sacrificing herself to save her husband and town from the satanic Jew can come away from this scene perfectly happy: in that version, she looks at her husband, realizes how much she loves him, and decides to die for him.

However, those of us who might see a different reading—such as Ellen's rejection of sexual repression, her longing for an erotic awakening, and her choosing the primal, animalistic force of Orlok over her insipid, chair-sleeping husband—can also find plenty here to support our case. Bring on the fangy foreigner! Whether you interpret it as a sacrifice, or as a surrender to seduction—and I think versions of both readings are intended— it works: she sends Hutter away by feigning sickness, and asking him to fetch the useless Prof.

Bulwer , and lures the vampire to her chamber, inviting the demon into her bed and the darkness into her soul. The creature climbs the stairs, and here he is all darkness: Murnau shows us not him, but just his shadow, as he approaches Ellen's chamber—and then again as he approaches her bed, just a shadowy claw reaching out to seize her heart. Note how Ellen herself is now completely surrounded in shadow: this is—literally and figuratively—one of the darkest shots in the whole movie.

When next we see them, however, the embrace is wholly physical: Orlok cradles her like a lover, drinking deeply from her throat. He has been so engrossed in their coupling that he has, indeed, missed the crowing of the cock—no puerile puns, please—and the shifting in tint indicates that the sun has risen. Realizing his mistake, Orlok tries to do the walk of shame past the open window and slink back to his coffin, but the light of the sun touches him, and he disappears in a wisp of smoke. Ellen wakes up—looking rather elated—and Hutter returns just in time to hear her call his name and then die in his arms.

An insert informs us that "the truth bore witness to the miracle, and at that very moment the Great Death came to an end…". I think this reaction was partially due to some of the issues we've discussed: the time spent on non-essential characters, the constant thread of anti-semitism, etc. However, I think is was also a failure of expectations on my part, an inability to meet the film on its own terms. I did, and do, have problems with the story, but hopefully it's clear by now that the story—which, ironically, got the filmmakers in such legal and financial trouble—is the least important element.

Last week we discussed German Expressionism a little bit, and, as I've said, Nosferatu is widely considered a masterpiece of the movement. On the surface, however, the film does not appear to fit easily into any but the loosest definition of this already loosely-defined term. The conscious embrace of artificiality—as demonstrated so brilliantly in Caligari— is almost nowhere to be seen here: in fact, for most of the film, Murnau achieves as natural and realistic effect as anyone with a camera had attempted at the time.

He films almost entirely on real locations, with what seems to be natural light. He even employs local, non-professional actors as extras and in minor roles, which gives certain scenes an incredible authenticity. The Expressionists' core tenet of rejecting even the attempt to objectively represent external reality seems to be nowhere in evidence. From that perspective—as a vehicle for effective, linear storytelling — Nosferatu seemed, on first viewing, rather flawed to me: its plot unfocused, its characters under-developed, its causalities unclear, and its resolution rather unsatisfying.

And yet, on subsequent viewings, what I've realized is that Nosferatu is a film that is Expressionistic in its intent, and its effect, more than in its techniques. From a purely technical level, here's a simple example of what I mean, from the end of Act IV: a simple shot of a town crier walking slowly down the street outside the Hutter's home, to read an announcement about the "plague.

It's a beautiful depiction of a city upon which the shadow of death has fallen, and a perfect metaphor for souls divided, half-consumed by an encroaching evil or corruption. Note how clean and innocent the houses on the left look, and how decayed and damned the houses on the right seem. It's realistic, but it's a sort of selected realism that is perfectly in service of the Expressionistic themes and emotions of the piece. It's Expressionism not as a way of creating, but as a way of seeing.

And that, I think now, is how all of Nosferatu works, and that's its special genius: I don't pretend to have sorted it all out, but I do know that there are things going on here—about gender, about sexual desire, about fear of the other, about the conscious and the sub-conscious—that are happening on a deeper level than I've begun to scratch. For all its apparent realism, and its relatively faithful use of one of the strongest and most famous stories in literature, Nosferatu is more symphonic than novelistic, more poetic than narrative, more an expression of the internal soul than of the external world: it prioritizes visual evocation over narrative development, psychological themes over societal ones, and its logic is not so much linear as associative.

Murnau distills the powerful story of Dracula to its most mythopoetic, psychologically resonant components, and turns a straightforward yarn about vampires into something that speaks to us—like opera, like music, like myth—on a deeper, more fundamental level. As the French critic Lotte Eisner wrote of Nosferatu , "Never again was so perfect an Expressionism to be attained, and its stylization was achieved without the aid of the least artifice.

For those of you who want to do the reading in advance, it's on YouTube and streaming on Netflix for free, though I can't speak to the quality of the prints. A number of links to useful articles on the web—in no particular order—that I consulted as I was writing this post:. Wikipedia pages—Oh, don't pretend you don't use it, too—on F. Murnau , Albin Grau , Nosferatu the film , and "Nosferatu" the word. One of my favorite films — and thank you for the extremely in-depth analysis! For advanced study, of course check out Werner Herzog's remake. It's not as good — how could it be? One smart Genman filmmaker reinterpreting another.

Keep up the great "over analyzing. A couple weeks ago I listened to a podcast about mirrors a sometimes symbol of the occult , and there was a bit about Orlok and Ellen's interaction with a mirror. Think I could remember it all?


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No, but it had something to do with vanity and awareness of death. Pingback: March 5: Nosferatu Jewish Currents. Looking forward to traveling to Slovakia and visiting Orava Castle, where the filming was done. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email.

Notify me of new posts by email. Skip to content. Facebook Twitter. McDunnah January 20, Share Pin 4. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror Directed by F. Act I Nosferatu begins with inserts of a manuscript, which frames the entire story we're about to hear as one unnamed narrator's "Account of the Great Death in Wisborg" in Act III As promised, I'm going to pick up the pace for the remainder of the film: partially because I want to get out of this post in less than 10, words; partially because I think we've already discussed in my shallow, haphazard way many of the important themes and techniques; and partially because it is around here that Nosferatu begins, for me, to go off the rails in places.

The captain, resigned to his fate, lashes himself to the wheel, as Orlok emerges and we get what is probably the best, and most memorable, shot of the film: We do not see Orlok kill the captain—we do not see Orlok kill anyone— but we don't need to: this fantastically creepy sequence ends with the vampire moving across the deck—framed in rigging, the spider in his web—and Act III ends with an ominous title card reading "The deathship had a new captain.

But a few comments… This act opens with a lot of clever intercutting: Hutter rushing home, the Empusa making its way to port, and Ellen staring out the window in anticipation of…both? Related Posts. Like this article? Share on facebook Share on Facebook. Unfortunately for Ian and exceedingly unfortunately for his bedmates , whenever there's a full moon, Ian turns into a Queerwolf, which makes a complete mockery of his devotion to body hair depilation and takes the expression "hunk of a man" in a disturbingly literal, gastronomic fashion.

For some reason, the town of Dante's Cove seems to have more than its fair share of nights with a full moon—there seem to be about 50 of them a week, going by the average episode—but Ian's inner Wookie doesn't even need moonlight to change. Blacklights trigger his transformation NEVER go nightclubbing with this dude as do certain night-blooming plants; physical contact with the werewolf's kryptonite, silver hide the good cutlery, boys!

He's the American Werewolf in Condom! Cursed is an unfairly panned offering from Wes Craven that features Christina Ricci, her moon-sized head, and a pre- Zombieland Jesse Eisenberg as a brother and sister who fall afoul and abite of Big Bad Wolf Joshua Jackson clearly six years of Dawson's Creek was enough to snap his hold on sanity and who spend the rest of the film NOT transforming into werewolves. Oh, they sprout fangs and claws here at inconvenient moments, are super-strong and boast "unnatural sex appeal" I hear that's the title of Justin Beiber's next album , but they won't actually do the whole full-body fur-coat thing until they've both "submitted" to Pacey's penis.

Eisenberg is seriously the hottest thing on two and occasionally, four legs in this film. His sexual allure basically involves trading in the Jew-fro for a skater cut and finding himself naked in odd places: the doghouse in his backyard, the coyote exhibit at the zoo, my bedroom when I'm watching Snoopy Come Home. Also falling for Jesse's Semitic sexiness is Milo Ventimiglia Heroes as the closeted captain of the school football team.

Whilst not a werewolf himself, Bo is certain that between the two of them, he and Jimmy can make the Beast with Two Backs. The film gets major gay kudos for having Jimmy react calmly to Bo's interest in finding out which way his tail leans, and even suggests that the two of them might eventually be more than friends. Take that, Teen Wolf!

John J. York as Eric Cord in Werewolf This series from the mind of the great and recently Late Stephen J.

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My very first ever man-crush, John J. York you know a guy is hot when you'd still do him even with 80's hair , plays Eric Cord, a young man whose dreams of becoming college valedictorian are shattered although I guess he could still enroll at Sunnydale U when he nearly becomes Alpo after his best friend makes an inappropriate advance of the suddenly-sprouting fangs-claws-and-muzzle kind.

Hilariously, when the two hot young roommates are fighting each other, one wolfs out and tries to eat the other one with much banging and throwing of furniture, and their landlady bangs on their door with her walking stick and yells, "What are you two boys doing in there?! I hear bed springs!


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  8. On the run for murder after giving his best friend a silverectomy "I had to kill him because he was a werewolf" was not really going down well in most courtrooms, outside of being involved in a hit and run with Alec Baldwin or a shiving with Robin Williams , Cord can only free himself of his monthly trip to Big Bad town by finding and killing the Master Werewolf that started the bloodline, Janos Scorzeny 50's cowboy movie stalwart Chuck Connors, who goes beyond merely chewing the scenery to coating the entire set in lube and making it his bitch , a werewolf so ancient that part of his body his right eye remains permanently transformed into lupine form, requiring the judicious application of an eye patch to make him look LESS suspicious.

    Each episode also features Eric waking up post-transformation completely naked, in a plot device that a often stretched the limits of how much male nudity could be shown on television and b made the little kid version of myself feel funny in his pants. Canadian beef cake moose cake? Brandon Quinn plays Tommy Dawkins, a high school football captain who gets the prerequisite werewolf bite seriously, all these guys get turned by a bite?!

    Why not vary it a bit and have them turned into werewolves by a roll in the hay? Or sharing drinking straws? Or karaoke singing Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London"?! Yes, Merton is a goth who has the wardrobe down pat, but seems to have forgone the whole sullen, misunderstood pessimist thing—he's like Edward Scissorhands on an ecstasy binge. Resigned to the fact that once a month he becomes a supernatural creature with a frankly alarming resemblance to a young, hirsute John Travolta, Tommy teams up with Merton to fight evil and heterosexuality in equal measure.