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Showing 1-10 of 24 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 42 reviews
on March 3, 2016
"Les Vampires" (1915-1916) is directed by Louis Feuillade (Fantomas). This is a 417 minute long silent crime serial film that is broken up into 10 episodes of varying length. The Vampires are a criminal organization, and have nothing to do with the supernatural type of vampire. The soundtrack was added on after the fact and it's okay, but it seems to have no relationship with the movie and it comes across as rather uninspired and monotonous after a while. This film influenced the surrealists and various directors, such as Luis Bunuel and Alfred Hitchcock, and is considered important in the history of cinema.

This two disc set was apparently restored by Cinematheque Francaise, but only the title cards are actually clean looking. The rest of the picture has numerous instances of dust and other anomalies. This set is the tinted version, which is nice to see, however, this is a barebones set. There is no audio commentary, or special features of any kind. I would highly recommend Feuillade's earlier series, "Fantomas"(1914-1914), as it is now on blu-ray and it looks stunning, as it has been beautifully restored.
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on March 30, 2015
KINO is the masters that bring cinema to Blu-ray. There line of silent films on blu-ray is amazing and utterly flooring at the art form and craftmanship they put into there products. Les Vampires is one of those forgotten about serial films. This is the film to own for it's old school mastery at telling a cliffhanger story. Perfection in performing and leaving you ready for more. The special features are awesome and the transfer of this film is mastery at it finest. Never has this film been such clarity. They honored this film. KINO tends to always create mastery. Highly recommend for the quality given to this transfer and to the reality of this being lost by time. Les Vampires is a film that goes up there with silent perfection. It's different and it's unique and is something that stands out. I absolutely loved this and KINO's transfer of this film is amazing.
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on September 22, 2009
Director Louis Feuillade's LES VAMPIRES is not just one of the all-time great serials, it is one of the greatest examples of cinema in general from the World War 1 period. It has a sophistication both in terms of narrative and acting style that even exceeds many celebrated American films of the same era.

The 10 part serial follows the exploits of a criminal organization known as the Vampires who spread fear and mayhem throughout Paris by killing, looting, and kidnapping. Plucky journalist Phillipe Guerande and his sidekick Mazamette set out on a crusade to rid the city of this evil threat.

LES VAMPIRES is a truly enjoyable viewing experience on many levels. It was shot in and around Paris during 1915-16 and the war torn, abandoned locations Feuillade chose for backgrounds add immeasurably to the heightened realism and chilling, doom-filled atmosphere of the film. Because of where and when it was made, it is a valuable, fascinating historical and cultural record preserved on film. It also has all the ingredients of the best serials: black-hooded villains, car chases, cryptograms, daring escapes, sweet-smelling poison gas... and topping it all off is beautiful French actress Musidora as the seductive Irma Vep ( an anagram of "vampire" ), strategist of the criminal gang and the mistress of their leader who is known as the Grand Vampire. But where American serials of the time used predictable plotlines, LES VAMPIRES takes unexpected twists and turns so that it evokes the feeling that anything and everything might happen. The film was hugely popular and it became the forerunner of the mystery/crime thriller genre, inspiring such great filmmakers as Fritz Lang and Luis Bunel.

Although widely available, the 1998 English version from Image Entertainment is not the best there is on this film. If you have a multi-region player I STRONGLY recommend the 2006 French language DVD edition from Gaumont Video. Granted, the intertitles are in French, but the print quality is far superior - your jaw will drop, it is that good. Keep the English version if you feel you need the translation, but once you've watched the film a few times it's easy to follow regardless of the language. Or, you can always learn to read French. The bottom line is, for a film as great as this one, nothing but the best quality available will suffice.*

LES VAMPIRES was almost lost until - amazingly - a print was found before it would have been literally carried away as garbage! The decomposing nitrate was stored in film cans and had no beginning/end titles or intertitles, making it virtually impossible to recognize what it was. Hence, the cans were put atop a dumpster to be hauled off. Fortunately, it was discovered in time and LES VAMPIRES was saved from oblivion so that we can savor it today, fully restored, its power to thrill and captivate intact and undiminished.

*See comments for a quality update.
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on June 7, 2016
This isn't a horror movie; it's a crime thriller. produced by gaumont to compete with the popular perils of pauline serial, it's divided into 10 parts, average 30-45 minutes. these were shown in theaters before the main feature. the story follows reporter philippe guérande's investigation of the mysterious exploits of a gang of master criminals known as les vampires. it's full of nefarious plots, disguises and daring escapes, with stunning stuntwork. musidora, a former acrobat, plays irma vep, cinema's first femme fatale, slinking around in a body stocking like catwoman. comic relief is provided by guérande's friend mazamette, who often appears to address the camera. yes it took awhile to get through, but for the most part it was highly entertaining :)
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on March 3, 2014
So says Oscar Mazamette, one of the three principal characters in Louis Feuillade's LES VAMPIRES and it sums up the plot concisely but hardly scratches the surface of the complexity of this legendary 10 episode serial. Feuillade (pronouced Foo-YAHD) had succeeded Alice Guy (rhymes with KEY) in 1907 as the production head of France's Gaumont Studios and produced and/or directed over 700 films between 1906 and 1924 (most were one or two reelers). His first large scale serial about the master criminal FANTOMAS (1913-1914) was an international success and helped to pave the way for LES VAMPIRES (1915-1916) which would be an even bigger success and would have a major influence not only on the crime drama as a genre but on many future filmmakers. It also introduced actress-dancer Musidora as Irma Vep, a black clad, dark-eyed anti-heroine (see cover) who would become one of the icons of early cinema. He would follow LES VAMPIRES with JUDEX (1916-1917) about a mysterious figure fighting for justice which gave Musidora another great villainess to play, that of Diana Monti. It too would be very successful (even spawning a sequel) and was remade by director Georges Franju (EYES WITHOUT A FACE) in 1963.

The deceptively simple plotline of LES VAMPIRES has crime reporter Phillipe Guerande (Edouard Mathe') taking on a vast criminal organization known as "the Vampires" (sorry, no bloodsuckers here) with the aid of trusty, comical sidekick Mazamette (Marcel Levesque). Even though each of the 10 chapters is complete (no cliffhangers like in American serials), they are a rollercoaster ride of alternate identities, narrow escapes, and daring and dastardly deeds. What makes LES VAMPIRES work is Feuillade's use of Paris locations (ca 1915) and how restrained his performers are. The plot twists are varied and the characters are engaging and intruiging. Imagine watching a 100 year old version of HOUSE OF CARDS. The Blu-Ray release is basically the same as the old Waterbearer Films DVD although digitally remastered. The Mont Alto Orchestra score suits the material well although it's occasionally repetitive. To be fair I did watch all 7 hours with only one break (to change discs). If you've never experienced a Feuillade serial before then this is the one to start with. Some sections are in better shape than others but for being 100 years old, it looks remarkable. Try it and see. Betcha can't stop at just one episode!
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on March 3, 2016
The Vampires is about a criminal gang, who robs and murders people, and not a bunch of blood sucking monsters. It is a 10 part silent movie made i 1915 and 1916. Each part is about 40 to 55 minutes in length.Philippe Guérande is an journalist who comes across the criminal organization known as the Vampires. The movie was made in France, The inter-titles are in English and the actors do a good job of telling the story through actions and facial expressions. French actress Musidora, is Irma Vep, an anagram of Vampire, is captivating and did her own stunts. She is the perfect villainess, who murders, plants bombs and breaks into peoples homes and steals their stuff. Oscar Mazamette, played by Marcel Lévesque, brings an element of fun to the story and occasionally breaks the "Forth Wall" and plays to the audience. The story is complicated and has a few twists and turns. I really enjoyed watching all 10 parts. Watching a silent film takes getting used too. The seem a background music seemed a bit lite for a crime drama. It should been a bit more sinister in tone to convey the danger the characters were going up against. It is a great story.
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on October 29, 2014
This review is of the Kino Blu-ray edition.

This two disc set contains ten films varying in length from 15 to 60 minutes. Each story is complete within itself (no cliffhangers), yet part of an overall story arc. "Les Vampires" refers to a gang of criminals terrorizing Paris of 1915. There are rival gangs and gang leaders vying for supremacy. The nominal head of the vampires is a woman named Irma Vep -- an anagram of vampire. An investigative reporter tries to track down the gang, providing the overall story arc. Comedy relief is provided by the reporter's sidekick, a reformed Vampire, who often muggs into the camera. There are kidnappings, bombings, poison gas attacks, assassinations of police officials -- you name it, the Vampires are up for it! This is a silent film with musical accompaniment, and occasional off-screen sound effects (door bells, telephones).
Image quality: The image is clear and sharp, though a little contrasty. The film has not been cleaned up, so there are numerous scratches, specks and white spots. In short, it looks like a 100-year old film, so don't expect perfection. Night scenes are tinted blue, but there was no other tinting. Tinting was common in silent films of the era, with a whole range of colors used to suggest different times of day and lighting conditions, but only night scenes were tinted in this film.
Silent films told their stories visually, with only occasional intertitles where an explanation was necessary. The Kino discs have English intertitles, and translations of on-screen letters and notes.
Highly recommended.
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on June 25, 2002
This is an excellent silent film and an artistic masterpiece! It centers on the exploits of a group of ingenious and resourceful jewel thieves also referred to as Vampires, who seek sexual and psychological domination over Paris' elite. Their methods include the use of poisonous gas, weapons, kidnapping, and disguises as tools to achieve domination. Although there is a leader that gives the vampires their orders, the group is really led by a captivating woman named Irma Vep who assumes a variety of disguises in order to carry out the gang's evil schemes. A relentless newspaper reporter named Philippe Guérande is on the trail of the vampires and seeks to have them imprisoned. His sidekick is Mazamette, a former member of the vampire gang who has reformed himself and assists Philippe in tracking down the bold and brazen group. Mazamette serves as Philippes' right hand man, informer and loyal friend. He also provides the comic relief in the film. This is a superb spectacle of French and silent cinema that mixes drama, mystery, horror and comedy and weaves it into a very complex and appealing epic. A big part of what makes this film so much fun is that it has a strong story line and features very imaginative and surreal situations that create the feeling of fantasy, but the brazen crimes and sometimes horrifying events that take place are very realistic. The film was shot in the deserted back streets and alleys of Paris during World War 1, which ultimately enhances the film's eerie atmosphere. It's easy to be drawn into this film, as the performances of its stars are very captivating, almost hypnotic and the cinematography is so evocative, you'll feel compelled to see what happens next. Many of the characters assume various identities and wear many hats in this film, for example; Irma Vep who is the main criminal, poses as a secretary at a bank, a maid, and a switchboard operator at a hotel. Musidora gives a stunning performance as the devious but very alluring Irma Vep. Edouard Mathé is fantastic as Philippe Guérande, the always efficient, intelligent and polite newspaper reporter. Marcel Levesque turns in an absolutely hilarious performance as Philippe Guérande's faithful, but loopy sidekick Oscar Mazamette. Delphine Renot also gives a good performance as Philippes' mother, who also gets caught up in the action when she is kidnapped and then later sent on a wild goose chase. Under Louis Feuillade's outstanding direction, these stars helped create an atmospheric and innovative entry into the silent film genre. This is a spectacular movie that deserves multiple viewings! Those who enjoy silent films and appreciate the incorporation of surrealism into motion picture will enjoy this epic the most, but the plot is so engaging and the performances so mesmerizing, anyone can enjoy this film! It's also a great place to start if you're just discovering the magic of silent and/or French cinema. The film has been corrected to the projection speed at which it was originally filmed, features new color tints, new title cards (subtitles) in English, and a memorable music score that adds to the excitement. Don't let this one pass you by!
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on April 21, 2002
OK, this DVD is a bit expensive; nor is it admittedly for everyone, but for those who are willing to take a risk will find that great cinema dates much earlier than they ever thought.
It is said of director Louis Feuillade, that this work is the first film of the silent era that doesn't require putting into a historic framework and I agree. At times this film will shock you in how "contemporary" it feels.
The DVD is a decent quality transfer in 1.33:1 standard screen. The episodes are tinted (yellow for interiors, blue for night scenes, red for love scenes, etc.). I recommend setting your DVD player to black & white for the best picture. The score is a mostly piano soundtrack reminicent of Chopin, which was recorded recently, but is remarkably fitting. The title cards are in present-day English.
This film is a ten-part crime series spanning a total of over 7 hours. Each episode runs approximately 40 minutes or so. The style is slightly comedic, full of espionage, and alot of fun, not very unlike watching a Bond movie today, minus the sexuality. My advice, buy this DVD and set aside a week to watch an episode or two a night. It truly is one of the supreme pleasures of film.
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on December 23, 2014
Louis Feuillade's1915 serial "Les Vampires" is a Must-See for thriller fans - this is where the genre was invented! (along with Feuilade's "Fantomas" and "Judex") Multiple secret criminal conspiracies, whose criminal masterminds, with high-tech weapons, mystify the police and battle each other to the death, while an intrerpid journalist risks life and limb to expose them. Musidora as Irma Vep portrays the screens' original "Bad Girl" with seductive, exotic flair, and has entranced fans even after a century. Cat-suits go back a long way! Graphic violence. Revenge. Needless brutality and cruelty. Sensuality. Sounds contemporary. What's not to like? Ten episodes, from about 1/2 hour to one hour each. Think of it like a tv series, don't try to watch it in one sitting. It's NOT a "cliff hanger", like other series of the time.
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