This week in scary characters, Scoop would like to bring you Graf (Count) Orlok, Count Dracula’s not-so-distant German relative from the 1922 German Expressionist film Nosferatu: A Symphony Of Horror.
When F.W. Murnau sought to tell his version of the Dracula mythos, he failed to secure the rights from the widow of Dracula author Bram Stoker. While the film was made and then released in 1922, Widow Stoker brought suit against the film’s makers and all copies of the film were ordered to be destroyed. Thankfully, some copies have survived, preserving a classic of the horror genre.
Easily counted amongst the most frightening images of early cinema, Max Schreck’s portrayal of Orlok still resonates nearly 90 years since he first raised the hairs on the backs of viewers’ necks. Part of the intrigue deals with the sheer look of the character. While Bela Lugosi’s Dracula is a suave gentleman, Orlok, with his pointy ears, rat-like features and menacing shadow – is repulsive. It’s almost as if evil drips from his every pore.
Despite the character’s early troubles, he continues to rise from the grave, again and again. In 1979, Werner Herzog retold the story with his film Nosferatu The Vampyre. Orlok’s design appears again in 1979 in the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. Orlok, and indeed Max Schreck return in 2000’s The Shadow Of The Vampire, a fictionalized telling of the making of Nosferatu in which Schreck is an actual vampire and the story was real.