Originally published June 16, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.
Sculpted by Dave Grasso.
Soon to be reissued by Nocturna Productions.
1/6 scale (a little more than a foot tall), made of resin, with a piece of jeweler’s chain holding the lantern.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, many garage-kit makers and builders love the vampire – Graf Orlock – from the silent movie “Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror.” Why should a pale, rat-toothed creature be such a draw to GK fans? I’m not certain, but I suspect it has a lot to do with two people: David Fisher of Amazing Figure Modeler and sculptor Dave Grasso, the subject of today’s e-mail Q&A.
In 2000, Fisher wrote an article in issue 21 of his magazine headlined “Nosferatu: Land of the Rats.” The piece was a look at more than two dozen Nosferatu garage kits and remains a valuable, though slightly dated, summary of the subject. In it, he said of Grasso’s “hatted” Nosferatu: “…the face captures the old man features of the character better than any other I’ve seen. The features and accuracy are incredible, and the expressive hands are exactly what is needed to cure my Orlock fever. The pose is classic, the detailing superb.”
Coming soon from Nocturna Productions, the company run by Cindy Fisher, David’s wife: A much-anticipated reissue of that Grasso Nosferatu. More about the Fishers later this week.
Now, Dave Grasso. If you’re interested in the subject enough to have read this far, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re familiar with Dave’s work even if you don’t know it. He’s a special makeup and creature effects artist currently finishing up on thethird “Resident Evil” movie at Patrick Tatopoulos Studios. He worked at Stan Winston Studio about nine years. Other titles on Dave’s résumé include “Jurassic Park,” “Batman Returns,” “Terminator 2” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
Garage-kit hobbyists will also know Dave for his first Nosferatu kit, the Invisible Man he sculpted for Dark Horse and a Vampirella based on artwork bySanjulian. He also did a few toys for Stan Winston Creatures and many maquettes for studios he’s worked with over the years.
“I’ve always wanted to get back in the garage-kit world (I’ve had other ideas for kits in the past), but was always to busy with film and toy work to pursue it,” he wrote in an e-mail.
Dave lives in California and has a wife and kids.
“My dad was and still is a great one for starting my interest in this hobby at such a young age,” Dave wrote. “My mom is also amazing in that she and my dad supported me in my decision to pursue special makeup effects all the way.
“My wife is also very supportive and quite creative as well, and my son is where most of my inspiration comes from. He loves the hobby as well.”
Q&A WITH DAVE GRASSO
Resin the Barbarian: How long ago did you create the Count Orlock sculpture?
Dave: I think I started it in ’94, put it on the shelf for a long while, and finished it in ’97.
Dave: The original sculpture does exist, in fact, I’m remolding the original sculpt again so the quality won’t change from the first runs.
RtB: This is your second Nosferatu kit and I know it has been out of production for a few years. What led to the decision to reissue it? Who approached whom with the idea?
Dave: I’ve wanted to reproduce it again for some time now, and recently, David Fisher got in touch with me about releasing it through Nocturna. He’s been great to deal with and has been very patient with me and my hectic work schedule.
RtB: What, if anything, is going to be different about the reissued version of the kit?
Dave: The character himself I decided not to change at all. I figured everybody would want it just the way it was. I am doing a new base for it that should be a little more interesting, but not detract from the figure.
Dave: I’m still playing around with the base, so as soon as that’s complete, then I’ll be able to ship out some masters to David Fisher.
RtB: It seems that the thrust of your work is creating state-of-the-art special effects for movies. What drew you, as a sculptor, to “Nosferatu,” a silent-era movie?
Dave: Well, I’ll try to keep this short. My dad used to bring me home the Universal Monsters Aurora model kits after his work day and also an occasional Famous Monsters issue or horror movie book … I was about 6 or 7 at the time.
One of the horror movie books had a small picture of Nosferatu standing in the open gateway to his abbey with his classic long, bony fingers and nails. That image still pops up in my head now and then and he will always be the creepiest-looking vampire on screen.
So much for keeping it short.
Dave: I really hadn’t planned on it because the main reason I did the hatted Orlock was that I grew to dislike the first one I did. I wanted to do a much classier version of him.
I know it was keys that he was holding in the film, but I decided to do a lantern instead, just a little change.
RtB: Are you steadily involved in the garage-kit hobby (collector, builder, etc.), or do you simply return to the hobby from time to time as a sculptor?
Dave: I haven’t been involved in the hobby for a while now, but it’s cool to see that it’s still alive.
RtB: I know David Fisher once called your second Nosferatu kit one of the best Orlock kits ever made. Now it is a highly prized garage kit. What do you think about the popularity of your piece among this subculture of hobbyists?
Dave: Wow….I really wasn’t expecting that kind of response when I did it. It’s cool to see how many Nosferatu fans there are out there. I have to give a very big thank you to David Fisher for the incredible praise, I’m very grateful to you and everybody else that just loves Nosferatu the way I do.
RtB: Is there any chance that you’re squeezing sculpting new garage kits into your heavy workload? If so, can you tell me what’s in the works?
Dave: I actually have two pieces that I try to work on when I can which is hardly ever. One of them is a small diorama based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, and the other I can’t say what it is just yet.
There are a few others that I definitely want to do after these are done. Two of them are from early 1920s cinema as well. The Lovecraft piece I want to do as a series, one diorama each from three of my favorite stories.
RtB: Would you like to add anything else?
Dave: I’m just blown away to see that there is still interest in this kit, and I have to thank all the Nosferatu fans out there that like it enough to want to have one. I was going to do another one based on a particular scene from the movie, but there seems to be a flood of Nosferatu sculpts out there right now. I’ll probably hold off on that one for a while.
Again, thanks for the interest, guys.
And from me, a thanks to Mike Nordstrom for helping me get in touch with Dave.