The Invincible Czars conducted their annual symphony of horror this weekend. The Tulsa’s Circle Cinema showed the silent films “Nosferatu” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” with a live band for the music and sound effects.
The Invincible Czars are as quirky and strange as their name. I am unsure if their sense of style was part of a Halloween costume or just what they typically performed in. Making three hours of silent movies interesting was a difficult task. The band worked in forms of humor with their live score and even some audience participation.
“Nosferatu” is an adaptation of the novel “Dracula” that represents the first blockbuster vampire movie ever made. It helped invent the genre of horror in film. It was not so much scary as deeply uncomfortable, but its ability to manage that with 1920s special effects and censorship was quite the feat. It’s an all-around classic and probably the most famous movie of its year.
Director F.W. Murnau adapted Bram Stoker’s novel better than many vampire movies, even though the name “Dracula” is replaced with “Count Orlok.” Made in 1922, the film came before much of the modern vampire genre, so many of the vampire tropes were missing. The titular vampire is associated with rats more than bats, and lacks a flowing cape.
Vampires are often very attractive, though Nosferatu was probably the ugliest thing I have ever seen in a movie. The film also invented a vampire trope or two, such as a vampire’s weakness to sunlight.
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” lacked any real ability to scare, but featured a little more plot. The tale portrayed a compelling story outside of the monster where Dr. Jekyll and his lover try to preserve their relationship which Mr. Hyde is destroying. Based off of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, most viewers probably could have given the basics of the plot going into it. The piece slowed down the plot to ask a few questions about the nature of man. Personally, I could have done with “the potion is magic” for an explanation rather than a Victorian era philosophical quandary about man having both a good and evil side. Nonetheless, the film entertained.
While the films were excellent and and music even more entertaining, $18 a ticket for the full double feature is a little much. Lovers of cinema and film music should go next year. A live score with such iconic films would be a shame to miss for any fan of old movies. But for those just looking for a Halloween weekend adventure, this one may not be for you. Seeing one but not the other knocks the price down to $12, which might be affordable enough to entice a few extra viewers.
The annual event is a great way to go see a scary movie around Halloween for those too weak of stomach for a modern horror. If you have the money to spend for the full double feature, bring a date and buy some popcorn next year.