Odds are, you’re familiar with Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, director F.W. Murnau’s landmark 1922 film, an unauthorized, exceptionally creepy adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The characters’ names were changed from the novel — the vampire is called Count Orlok, played in iconically eerie fashion by Max Schreck — as well as the setting and other details. But the plot remained pretty much the same (resulting in a copyright lawsuit): Transylvanian vampire buys a stately home in another country, develops a craving for his real estate agent’s wife, runs amok following his move and is ultimately defeated.

For better and worse, the horror aspect is central to most tellings of this often-reimagined story: Here’s a monster that hunts people, feeding on their literal lifeblood, sometimes turning them into something unnatural. He’s a creature who has tasted the forbidden fruit of immortality — from a puritanical point of view, he’s the ultimate picture of corruption, the arch dark hedonist.

Just in time for Halloween, we’re very pleased to premiere a short-film-slash-music-video that entertains a different perspective. What if there was more to the vampire’s desire for Mina Harker (or Ellen Hutter in Nosferatu) than simple, er, bloodlust?

Longtime followers of local music will know Jordan and Eric Lehning well. The brothers have been part of an array of local music projects over the past decade-and-a-half, including pop-and-rock band The Non-Commissioned Officers. Jordan is also an exceptional producer, instrumentalist and arranger who occasionally releases his own music. Eric is also an actor, and they worked together on the outstanding 2008 zombie film Make-out With Violence.

Per an email to the Scene from Jordan, Eric thought a few years back that it’d be fun to sing the romantic classic “Unchained Melody” in character as Orlok. Until recently, the idea remained just that. However, Jordan shared that Eric has suffered from colitis for about 15 years, and experienced an exceptionally bad bout of it earlier this year. The fasting Eric did as part of his treatment left him more gaunt and pale than his brother had ever seen, and they agreed that if they were ever going to “do the Nosferatu ‘Unchained’ thing,” now was the time.

So, they recorded a rich and poignant rendition of the song. Akin to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s observations in “If We Were Vampires,” the “Unchained” couplet “Time goes by so slowly / And time can do so much” lands much differently when it comes from the lips of the undead. They enlisted longtime collaborators Andy and Josh Duensing and Chris and Kevin Doyle to stage and shoot the short film, which you can see above. Thankfully, Jordan reports that Eric is responding well to treatment and is feeling much better.

The track is set to be released as a single — keep an eye on Jordan Lehning’s website and Instagram profile for updates.

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