Thursday, October 27, 2022

Tonight: 'Nosferatu' flies into the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, R.I. for 100th anniversary

The vampire mounts the stairs in 'Nosferatu' (1922.)

 If you're looking for the "big audience" experience of silent film, look no further than tonight's screening of 'Nosferatu' (1922) at the Jane Pickens Theatre in Newport, R.I.

I'm told that already well over 100 tickets have been sold for tonight's show. Wow! So it should be a packed house, which I think always makes for a screening.

The fun starts at 7:30 p.m.; more details in the press release below.

Last night's screening of 'The Cat and the Canary' (1927) drew a good-sized crowd to the Rex Theatre in downtown Manchester, N.H.

Most had never seen (or heard of) the film; indeed many were first-timers at the Rex, which was recently renovated and reopened by the Palace Theatre, the city's main downtown performing arts organization.

For this film, I make a point of describing it as it was originally promoted: as a "comedy thriller." 

I think it's important for people to know that's what director Paul Leni was going for, thus giving them permission to laugh. Which they did!

Okay, here's info on tonight's screening of 'Nosferatu' in Newport, R.I. 

By the way, yesterday's Newport Daily News carried an extensive write-up of the screening. Nice job by writer Robert Duguay!

And I can't help but observe that for me, it's the second-to-last 'Nosferatu' of this 100th anniversary Halloween season.

Accompanying it repeatedly is beginning to feel like silent film aerobics: "Two more, one more..."

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The creature emerges: Nosferatu disembarks from his shipboard accommodations..

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Creepy classic thriller 'Nosferatu' to screen at Jane Pickens Theater on Thursday, Oct. 27

Prepare for Halloween with 100-year-old silent horror movie with live music—see it if you dare!

NEWPORT, R.I.— Get into the Halloween spirit with a classic silent horror film celebrating the 100th anniversary of its release.

'Nosferatu' (1922), the first screen adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel 'Dracula,' will be shown with live music on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jane Pickens Theatre and Event Center, 49 Touro St., Newport.

General admission $15; members $13. Tickets available online or at the door.

The screening will feature live musical accompaniment by Jeff Rapsis, a New Hampshire-based silent film musician.

'Nosferatu' (1922), directed by German filmmaker F.W. Murnau, remains a landmark of the cinematic horror genre. It was among the first movies to use visual design to convey unease and terror.

To modern viewers, the passage of time has made this unusual film seem even more strange and otherworldly.

It's an atmosphere that silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis will enhance in improvising live music on the spot for the screening.

"The original 'Nosferatu' is a film that seems to get creepier as more time goes by," said Rapsis, a resident of Bedford, N.H. who accompanies silent film screenings at venues across the nation.

"It's a great way to celebrate Halloween and the power of silent film to transport audiences to strange and unusual places," Rapsis said.

In 'Nosferatu,' actor Max Schreck portrays the title character, a mysterious count from Transylvania who travels to the German city of Bremen to take up residence.

In the town, a rise in deaths from the plague is attributed to the count's arrival. Only when a young woman reads "The Book of Vampires" does it become clear how to rid the town of this frightening menace.

Director Murnau told the story with strange camera angles, weird lighting, and special effects that include sequences deliberately speeded up.

Although 'Nosferatu' is suitable for all family members, the overall program may be too intense for very young children to enjoy.

Modern critics say the original 'Nosferatu' still packs a powerful cinematic punch.

“Early film version of Dracula is brilliantly eerie, full of imaginative touches that none of the later films quite recaptured,” Leonard Maltin wrote recently.

Critic Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader called 'Nosferatu' "...a masterpiece of German silent cinema and easily the most effective version of Dracula on record.”

Despite the status of 'Nosferatu' as a landmark of early cinema, another scary aspect of the film is that it was almost lost forever.

The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was an unauthorized adaptation of Stoker's novel, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain rights to the novel.

Thus "vampire" became "Nosferatu" and "Count Dracula" became "Count Orlok." After the film was released, Stoker's widow filed a copyright infringement lawsuit and won; all known prints and negatives were destroyed under the terms of settlement.

However, intact copies of the film would surface later, allowing 'Nosferatu' to be restored and screened today as audiences originally saw it. The image of actor Max Schreck as the vampire has become so well known that it appeared in a recent 'Sponge Bob Squarepants' episode.

In screening silent films at the Jane Pickens Theater, organizers aim to show early cinema as it was meant to be seen—in restored prints, on a large screen, with live music, and with an audience.

"All those elements are important parts of the silent film experience," said Rapsis, who will accompany the film. "Recreate those conditions, and classics of early cinema such as 'Nosferatu' leap back to life in ways that audiences still find entertaining."

Rapsis performs on a digital synthesizer that reproduces the texture of the full orchestra, creating a traditional "movie score" sound. He improvises the complete score in real time during the screening.

"Creating a movie score on the fly is kind of a high-wire act, but it can often make for more excitement than if everything is planned out in advance," Rapsis said.

The classic early horror thriller ‘Nosferatu’ will be shown with live music on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jane Pickens Theater and Event Center, 49 Touro St., Newport.

General admission $15; members $13. Tickets available online at or at the door. For more information about the JPT Film & Event Center, call (401) 846-5474. 

Have a nice trip!

1 comment:

  1. It was a brilliant Soundtrack you did. Fantastic Job. I'll definitely be following your work.