Austin’s most adventurous band, The Invincible Czars, will bring their new tastefully modern score for the 1922 German silent film Nosferatu (1922 F.W. Murnau) to the South, Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West during the month of October. This tour follows a string of sold-out and full houses in the western and gulf coast states.
Nosferatu is one of the most revered films in the history of cinema and certainly the most important horror film of the silent era though it was almost completely lost when the estate of Bram Stoker sued the filmmakers for copyright infringement and most of the prints of the movie were destroyed.
Fans, theaters and media have praised The Invincible Czars for making the near century-old movie “actually scary” for modern day audiences with their cinematic sensibility and precise performances.
But the group was reluctant to create a score for Nosferatu at first. “We didn’t think the world needed another score for this movie so we never seriously considered doing it,” says band leader Josh Robins, who founded the group in 2002 and set them down the path of scoring and accompanying silent films 2006. “But it was hard to deny all the requests we kept getting for it.” So in 2015 they decided to try it. “We checked out a ton of other scores by orchestras, metal bands, DJs and other silent film accompaniment groups and tried to make ours as stand apart.”
Using a mix of acoustic and electric instruments helped but the real stand-out is wind player Leila Henley’s otherworldly vocal performance. (She also makes much of the group’s stage wardrobe.)
The band always borrows music from the classical realm in their scores. For Nosferatu, they chose Bela Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances in a nod to the fictional Count Orlock’s home turf and because the pieces were composed around the same time as the movie was made.
Nosferatu tells the story of Hutter and Ellen, a couple from the village of Wisborg. Hutter travels to Transylvania to sell a piece of property in Wisborg to Count Orlok. Hutter stays in Orlok’s castle only to learn that the Count is a vampire. Orlok purchases a house next to Hutter’s, locks Hutter in the castle and travels to Wisborg. On the way, he manages to possess Hutter’s employer and Ellen and strike the village with an outbreak of the plague. Hutter rushes home to stop him before it’s too late.
The band encourages fans and attendees to dress for the Halloween season at these shows.