[box cover]

Nosferatu: The Gothic Industrial Mix

"Azrael Abyss, Prince of Sorrow" and "Circe Nightshade" are two gothy teens played on Saturday Night Live by Chris Kattan and Molly Shannon. They have a cable access TV show called Goth Talk. Azrael works at Cinnabons and wears his mom's makeup. They would love this DVD. As for anyone else ... well, this is one of those releases that begs the question, "What's the point?" Admirers of F.W. Murnau's cornerstone of German expressionist cinema, 1922's Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror, already have a superior, near-definitive DVD edition released by Image Entertainment. Likewise, fans of "gothic industrial" music have easier ways of getting their fix. Admittedly, the fusion of the two is a no-brainer. The movie's brilliant evocation of mood and undead terrors fits the self-consciously dark rock subgenre like a like a black faux-leather glove with spiky silver studs. So a goth soundtrack to a fine print of Nosferatu could be a good thing. This edition produced by Cleopatra Video and distributed by Music Video isn't it.

To be sure, the score by Christian Death, Electric Hellfire Club, and other post-pube gloomsters isn't ill-used here. This "Gothic Industrial Mix" is, in fact, surprisingly free of arbitrary techno beats or driving metal grinding that would be merely intrusive and self-absorbed. On the contrary, someone paid attention to setting down a mindful mix of extended synthesized tonalities that try to match the mood of what you're seeing on screen. It's well recorded with fine dynamic range in Dolby 2.0.

The bad news is that it's boring. Long stretches of it would be just as at home in one of the lesser programs at the local planetarium. Moments that add recitative vocal chanting, such as when the vampire enters the hero's room, may invoke more giggles than goosebumps. On the Image release, the new synthesized score by the Silent Orchestra is much more successful at applying mod black raccoon eye shadow to Murnau's classic creeper.

The worst sin, though, is the awful print itself. Long a victim of public-domain abuse, Nosferatu on this disc is plainly from a multi-generational dupe that's as washed out and contrasty as a 1970s-vintage Super 8 home movie edition. There are scenes where the film stock looks as though it's been run across a cheese grater. This disc's hand-me-down source print further gives away its heritage when the characters' names are changed to those from Dracula, Hutter becoming Jonathan Harker, Count Orlock is called "Dracula," and so on. It's untinted, unrestored, and at this point completely unnecessary. It also runs at a now-obsolete running speed that's too fast, so this edition clocks in at 63 minutes as opposed to the Image release's 81.

So what is the point? That becomes clear right away with the credit reading, "Score music taken from the Cleopatra record albums 'Vampire Rituals' and 'Vampires from Hell.'" It may be alternative and oh so goth, but it's also good ol' American cheap cross-sell. Maybe because of this edition a few raven-tressed children of the night will get turned on to silent screen cinema in general, so in that event this disc wouldn't be completely pointless. Until then, see you at Cinnabons, Azrael Abyss, Prince of Sorrow. Keep-case.

—Mark Bourne



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