In an interview with series co-creator Michael Heagle, we get some insights as to the thought process behind TVTV’s resident cranky boss, the Vampire Le Shoc.
What impact has Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror had on the horror genre?
Murnau’s Nosferatu is somewhat of a hidden gem — while the German Expressionist films and their filmmakers were assimilated by and had a major impact on the development of American studios, it is more difficult to draw a straight line from Nosferatu to the films of today. To assign the epithet of cult film to Nosferatu is at least partially right, as its ban and destruction by the Stoker heirs and disappearance from the annals of silent film make it a lesser known entity than the ubiquitous Universal Dracula. Consider it the smarter, hipper Dracula, and the only vampire film that actually approached the uncanny feeling of Stoker’s novel for decades to come.
Has the vampire Count Orlock had any impact on the vampires we see in film today?
Orlock got the short-end of the stake, in my opinion. Hollywood naturally gravitated toward the seductive vampire, leaving behind its roots as, first and foremost, a reanimated corpse. With few exceptions, film vampires tended toward the handsome. In fact, the most lasting, terrifying vampires were direct evocation of Orlock. The 1979 TV movie of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot features a skull-visaged, floating-outside-your-window terror that scared (and scarred) me forever. When Jerry Dandridge, the vampire antagonist of 1985’s Fright Night, does the full-on vampire transformation, he is a direct descendant of Orlock and thus one of my vampy favorites.
Is Nosferatu or any other silent horror film important to cinema today?
Unfortunately, modern filmmakers are discouraged to plumb the depths of film history, and are more frequently asked to evoke recent successes. When a filmmaker boldly embraces the silent movie tradition, they are often rewarded by critics but ignored by audiences, which places films like The Artist or Shadow of the Vampire squarely on the art-house list — admired by the cinephiles and shunned by regular audiences. The state of modern film horror also emphasizes the adrenaline rush over eerie atmospherics — and are thus more about terror than horror. Few commercial filmmakers are allowed to indulge in the traditional joys of slow eerie scenes with subtle payoffs, and when they do it is often used as a joke (Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, perhaps).
Has this film or any other film from the silent era influenced you or your filmmaking in any way?
When tasked with making an original vampire character for an adult puppet series, we instantly gravitated towards the idea of a Nosferatu. The Lugosi-style vampire had been seen as a puppet on multiple occasions, ranging from Sesame Street’s The Count to Greg the Bunny’s scathing parody of the same. Thus, the Vampire Le Shoc in Transylvania Television is absolutely an Orlock-Nosferatu, with blue skin, pointed ears, and a long brown coat.