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Spooky Month Roundup
Greetings! This Halloween, I had two goals: dress up like a skeleton and unveil a new Nosferatu short film. I’m excited to announce that I accomplished both, despite burning myself out a little to finish in time. We’ll touch on artist burnout in a future post, but for now, let’s get right to the GOOD CANDY.
HERE IS THE BRAND-NEW ANIMATED SHORT 🎬
“Nosferatu Goes Shopping” made its grand debut in an exclusive email sent out to the subscribers (hello, friends!) and the Instagram feed. I’m delighted to see the laughter it has brought to many of you, and your positive reactions truly warm my heart.
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One of the challenges I often encounter when creating something like Nosferatu Goes Shopping is the significant time investment required; it can feel like life needs to come to a halt, and I will exhaust myself in the process. So, when the animation involves humor, the joke has to be hilarious.
As I repeatedly watched the animatic (above), the crashing of the dish rack kept cracking me up, so I trusted it would be worth the effort.
NOSFERATU: SUBWAY OF HORRORS
The origin of this character began after I had watched the 1922 silent film, “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.” While I held a deep appreciation for this classic horror masterpiece, I couldn’t help but find Nosferatu’s appearance a bit goofy. That stare! It’s important to note that I’m looking at it from an obvious contemporary standpoint, as I’m sure he was absolutely TERRIFYING to audiences in the 1920s. Nosferatu remains celebrated as one of the greatest horror films in cinematic history—and I knew that I needed to draw him immediately.
I began sketching him taking the NYC subway during my daily commute, channeling a few of my own subway tales of woe. This short was also the origin of Nosferatu as the misunderstood performance artist who can’t catch a break.
NOSFERATU: IN THE BEGINNING
The animated minis on social inspired me to do more with Nosferatu. Things Took a Turn (TTAT) is an animation anthology I participated in the previous year, organized by the talented and fellow spooky Andrea, Andrea Schmitz. The 2019 theme, “In the Beginning,” revolved around myths and legends and offered an opportunity to delve into the legend surrounding Max Schreck, who famously portrayed Nosferatu in the 1922 film.
This legend suggested that Schreck’s performance was so convincing that he was rumored to be an actual vampire, even inspiring the 2000 film “Shadow of the Vampire,” in which Willem Dafoe portrayed the character.
Upon conducting my research, I discovered that Schreck had also dabbled in “obscure comedy” after his iconic role and how the Stoker estate tried to have every copy of Nosferatu destroyed because of copyright, so I combined these elements to craft a fun origin story for the character.
I found placing Nosferatu within the world of the “handsome Draculas” who have all the looks, luck, and ladies amusing. After all, Nosferatu is essentially an off-brand Dracula, so it struck me as logical that he would need to put in significantly more effort to gain attention and recognition.
NOSFERATU: GOES SHOPPING
The most recent installment was initially created for World Dracula Day (May 26). I couldn’t complete all the pieces in time to realize the entire animation. In my previous work, I primarily used monochromatic elements, which made the process faster. However, this time, I was eager to explore the use of color, and working with color naturally demands more time and attention.
I decided to postpone it until October, knowing I’d have more time (although I was still racing against the clock to finish it by Halloween). It all began with a simple idea—bringing Dracula and Nosferatu together in a single location. The question was, where could that happen? I envisioned a place where they could unite, a NYC Lower East Side store tailored for monsters, one that only opens its doors at the stroke of midnight, thus “Nosferatu Goes Shopping.”
Initially, I intended to create an animated IG Reel, but later, I altered my plans and switched to a 1920 x 1080 format. I chose a standard TV size, opting for a version that could live beyond social media alone.
While working on the short, I was aching for some artistic collaboration, so I took to my Instagram Stories to ask: “What items would Dracula have in his store?” I was fortunate to receive fantastic suggestions from online friends, which added an extra layer of enjoyment to the creative process.
SUSPIRIA & GOBLIN THE BAND
While I watch horror movies throughout the year, I wanted to shine a spotlight on my all-time favorite, “Suspiria” (1977). I had the opportunity to view it on the big screen this October at Nitehawk in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Despite having it on Blu-ray, there’s truly nothing quite like experiencing a cult classic with a jam-packed theater filled with devoted fans who erupt in applause at the very first note of the opening title. Truly a memorable experience.
I thought about the reasons why “Suspiria” holds the title of my all-time favorite horror movie. Right out of the gate, THE COLORS. If a color scheme could make my HEART SING, it would be this movie. Every scene is a vivid masterpiece, along with an incredible soundtrack by Goblin. It’s a kind of beautiful insanity that’s just awe-inspiring.
Here are some notes I jotted down after watching the film:
Fuschia-soaked fever dream, magical realism, gruesome, mesmerizing, neon, sensual
Witch coven inside a ballerina music box
Jessica Harper’s (Suzy Bannion) eyeball acting acting: A++
The clothing, the shoes!
Every single interior design in this film
1977 is my year 👀
It’s perfect, and I love it to pieces
There’s a lot to love about this movie, and Goblin’s soundtrack seals the deal. Goblin’s wild Italian prog-rock wailing casts a spell of its own. I love Goblin so much that I saw them before Massimo Morante, founder and guitarist, passed away in 2020. Here’s a clip from the 2018 show I attended at Irving Plaza:
“Bad luck isn't brought by broken mirrors but by broken minds.”
—Dr. Frank Mandel (played by Udo Kier) in Suspiria
KEEP ON CREEPIN’ ON
As we travel into November, let’s extend the spooky season with some recommendations to keep ya going:
* Music: curated playlist from my 2021 animated short Haunted Hearts
* Film: movies I watched this October 2023 on Letterboxd
* Watch: Andrea’s animated short “Thirst”, especially if you are a creative who understands burnout and the race against time
* Read: Tim’s comic Eternal Gaze of the Sightless Void. It’s beautifully chilling!
There’s a quote I want to leave you with; it’s one I think about often, especially in the most troubling of times. It’s simple but effective:
“It’s Chaos, Be Kind.” —Michelle McNamara
Use it for yourself. And, please, use it towards other people. So many people are hurting right now.
Make more art, and spread more love. 🖤