According to Jeff Rapsis, 46, of Bedford, an accompanist to silent films, “These films are from the German Expressionism school — the school of film making where filmmakers began to first use creepy backgrounds and effects, and deliberate distortion of perspectives.”
These scary films will be seen at the theater’s Frightfest on Monday, the way they were supposed to be seen: in top-quality restored prints, on a large screen, with live music and with a live audience.
“(The films) are not like anything you see these days,” Rapsis said. “There is a freshness and a sense of discovery in these movies.”
The two movies that will be shown are “Nosferatu” (1922), which is the first screen adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” and “The Golem,” about a giant creature created from clay by a rabbi to protect Jews from persecution.
“These movies are a great way to get in the spirit of Halloween,” Rapsis said.
At the time silent films were being created, filmmakers were just learning how to scare their audiences.
“People think silent films were just in black and white,” Rapsis said.
“However, according to how scary the scene was, the colors of the film would change. For instance, if there was a very intense and scary scene, they would tint the film slightly red.”
While the horror movies of today are not meant for everyone, Rapsis says that these silent films are intended for all ages.
“These films don’t have scenes that are inappropriate for kids and anyone can enjoy them,” Rapsis said.
The films, though silent, do have a musical component.
“Expect live music, me on a keyboard,” said Rapsis. “And on a high powered digital synthesizer that recreates the sound of a full orchestra.”
All of Rapsis’ music is made up on the spot and he says he never plays the same thing twice.
“The music depends on my mood and the mood of the crowd,” Rapsis said.
The actual copies of the film are brand new, having been restored.
“They look like a beautiful black and while photo come alive,” Rapsis said.
Rapsis has been accompanying the silent films for the past three years.
“It’s been a lot fun to bring these movies to life and have them be appreciated,” he said. “I always enjoyed as silent film and studied music years ago and then I got a chance to do them both.
If you go
What: Silent Film Frightfest.
When: Monday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.
Where: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester.
How: Tickets $8. Purchase in advance by calling 603-668-5588, visit palacetheatre.org or at the door.
This article ran in the October 13, 2010 issue of NH Lets Go.