Archer to resurrect Nosferatu for festival

Accomplished musician Chris Archer will play live piano to the influential silent horror film...
Accomplished musician Chris Archer will play live piano to the influential silent horror film Nosferatu - A Symphony of Horror as part of the city's popular Festival of the (Un)dead this weekend.
Brought up in a strong Catholic family, Chris Archer never celebrated Halloween the way many Kiwi children do now.

“I love the idea of dressing up and sharing gifts,” he said. “But I am not sure within that model whether kids fully understand that actually it is a day to celebrate those who have passed on.”

His Catholic heritage has not stopped him from indulging his fascination with how the festival is celebrated around the world – particularly in Mexico.

“I think I have always had an interest in the bizarre, the strange and the unexpected.”

As part of the Festival of the (Un)Dead over Labour weekend, Archer, an accomplished pianist, will take audiences back in time as he accompanies the silent horror film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror with live piano music.

The German film will be screened in The Great Hall at The Arts Centre of Christchurch.Archer is the centre’s programmes and partnerships manager.

The screening will be a key feature of the festival, along with a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show straight after Nosferatu. The annual Thrill the World Christchurch global dance-off at Cathedral Square will also see residents dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller to raise money for charity.

While Archer plans to improvise part of the soundtrack throughout Nosferatu, he has spent more than 50 hours selecting mainly German music to match the mood of each scene.

“Thrown in for good measure, I am using John Carpenter’s music, Halloween, which everyone will recognise just because it seems appropriate,” Archer said.

One of the most influential horror films of all time, Nosferatu was directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and released in 1922.

“It is a technical feat in cinematography but there are also some classic, suspenseful scenes that have inspired even contemporary modern horror movies we see today.”

Archer said Murnau was very clever, putting scenes of incredible suspense against scenes of complete relaxation to take audiences by surprise.

“There is a creepy element where you know someone is following someone else and the time spent preparing that and creating the suspense . . . there are so many horror films with the same technique,” he said.

Archer first saw the film about 20 years ago as part of a New Zealand Film Commission festival at the Isaac Theatre Royal.

As well as playing the piano, he is an accomplished organist, accompanist, composer, music educator and was an organist at the Catholic Cathedral for 10 years.

•Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror will be screened on Friday, 6.30-8.10pm. To book tickets, go to

•For more information on The Festival of the (Un)dead go to




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