An intrepid reporter and his loyal friend battle a bizarre secret society of criminals known as The Vampires.
Episode 9: The Poisoner
A series of adventures follow, with the Grand Vampire (Fernand Herrmann) and exotic dancer/criminal Irma Vep (Musidora) providing much of the opposition. In a surprise development, it is revealed that the Grand Vampire is not the gang’s ultimate leader. When it is convenient, his superior eliminates him. He, in turn, commits suicide when he is imprisoned by the police.
Lensed in an eerily abandoned Paris in 1915, Louis Feuillade’s stark chapter play Les Vampires is a grim and powerful work which is worlds apart from the later glitz and polish of the golden age serials produced by the American studios.
“Les Vampires” is a classic of the mute cinema series directed by Louis Feuillade. In ten episodes, it counts the adventures of a masked assailants group who haunt Paris. The mythical actress Musidora [ the first "Vamp" of the European cinema ] is the star in the series, that achieved fame due to the great admiration among the surrealists (Andres Breton and Luis Buñuel were its bigger fans), seduced by the dreamily scenes that sometimes appears in the narrative. At first “Les Vampires” was rejected for the French vanguard directors, that considered it like a mere policeman series. The film was saved from destruction thanks to the efforts of the founder of the French Film library, Henri Langlois, and after years forgotten, “Les Vampires” was exhibited again in the sixties, in concurred sessions that had marked time, especially in Paris, London and New York, causing a reevaluation of the critics relatively to the work of Feuillade. Andres Bazin, the great critic of the French cinema, said that “Les Vampires” was “one of the biggest film of all the times”, admiration shared with the directors of the new French cinema. Today, Feuillade is placed side by side to other geniuses of the mute period of the cinema, as Griffith, Stroheim, Murnau and Gance. The episodes: 1: The Cut Head (31 minutes); 2: The Ring that Kills (13 minutes); 3: The Red Book (39 minutes); 4: The Specter (30 minutes); 5: The Escape of the Dead Man (35 minutes); 6: Hypnotic eyes (53 minutes); 7: Satanus (42 minutes); 8: The Master of the Thunder (50 minutes); 9: The Poisoner (48 minutes); 10: The Terrible Marriage (57 minutes).
Production took place during WW I, when the streets were largely abandoned, and this strange desolation combines with the scurrying of the few characters to present a powerful emphasis that goes beyond the actual turns and twists of the plotline. The result is compelling, entertaining, and more than a bit weird in spots. Tinted scenes add to the welcome air of unreality.
Cast and Crew:
* Musidora / Irma Vep
* Édouard Mathé / Philippe Guérande
* Marcel Lévesque / Oscar Mazamette
* Jean Aymé / Le Grand Vampire
# Writers: Louis Feuillade
# Director: Louis Feuillade
Production: Film Gaumont (Paris)
Original Air Date: 1915
Audio & Video: Mono – Black and White
Additional details in: IMDB
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Filed Under: Les Vampires