Book Review: NOSFERATU: THE UNTOLD ORIGIN
Stryker (Facebook / Twitter)
Jan 16, 2012 - 6:55:47 PM
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's
1922 film NOSFERATU: A SYMPHONY OF HORROR
holds a special place for me as I become aware of it when I was just two years
into my love of the horror film genre. I
had read about the film in Darrell W. Moore's "The
Best, Worst, and Most Unusual Horror Films," a book that I purchased
in 1983 which became my bible for all things horror.
On Independence Day in 1985,
after making a VHS copy of Wes Craven's A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (sorry Media
Home Entertainment!), I headed to Holly Park Video with the hope of finding
another classic horror film to savor on tape.
While perusing the titles I noticed a VHS prerecorded copy of NOSFERATU
Video Communications through their Film Classics Video label
on VHS sitting on the shelf, but it was only available for purchase, not for
The oversized clamshell box
caught my eye because it retailed for $19.95, far lower than the $79.95 price
tag of VHS tapes that were sold only to rental stores. I eagerly bought it up and was struck by the
fact that although the film was sixty-three years old, it was still very
effective and creepy.
was not the only person to have been affected by the film. Louis J. Pesci, the author of the beautiful
and lavishly illustrated book NOSFERATU:
THE UNTOLD ORIGIN, is another one of those people, and he has created a
beautiful book all about Count Orlok.
A work of fiction from the
author's imagination with historical embellishment, NOSFERATU: THE UNTOLD
ORIGIN begins in the 15th century in Europe wherein Sigismund, the Holy Roman
Emperor at the time, issues a decree that practitioners of witchcraft and all
peoples whose beliefs run contrary to Roman Catholicism be burned at the
stake. Count Orlok, believing
wholeheartedly in The Word of God, seeks out Elsa the Witch and tries to
convince her to renounce her evil ways or risk certain death. She chooses the latter, knowing full well
that she will place a curse on him and haunt him for all eternity.
follows is a creepy and very atmospheric tale of the life of Count Orlok, who
must now roam the earth looking for human blood to keep himself going. A moment of palpable tension occurs when the
Orlok, weak from a lack of human blood, lies in a dungeon as a large spider
takes up residence over one of his opened eyes for eight hours. Get it off!!!!
Below are two samples from
the book which is illustrated with hundreds of similarly beautiful and truly
frightening images, all designed and drawn by Mr. Pecsi.
makes the story such a stand-out is how it begins with Orlok as a human being,
believing whole-heartedly in the Emperor's decree, and subsequently finding
himself to be cursed for all eternity by Elsa, the witch whom he tries to
persuade to change her mind and give up her witchcraft.
text is very well-written and keeps you guessing as to what is around the
corner for Count Orlok. I must admit
that the book gave me a great deal of sympathy for this poor man who has become
the stuff of horror film legend, and whose look has influenced so many
vampires, among them Klaus Kinski and Reggie Nalder in NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE
(1979) and SALEM'S LOT (1979) respectively.
There are plenty of truly creepy images in this book, primarily the
depictions of Elsa the Witch, looking horrific after she is hanged from a
tree. The images are so creepy that they
remind me of Andrew Prewett's cover art for the British horror sound effects records
which always unnerved me when I was a child due to their explicit depictions of
Max Schreck's portrayal of
Nosferatu in the 1922 film version is arguably the most unnerving screen
version of the vampire and has haunted countless nightmares over the past
eighty years. To write a book about his
origins was a truly terrific maneuver. I
highly recommend that you pick up a copy.
can order the book here. There are also some neat posters and
accessories that can be purchased here in addition to the book,
so be sure to have a look!
back soon for my interview with the book's author, Louis J. Pecsi. Here
is his Facebook page.
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