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After the success of his Fantomas films, French director Louis Feuillade attempted to create the ultimate espionage serial, a ten-episode, seven-hour epic called Les Vampires.
Edouard Mathe stars as Philippe Guerande, a crime-fighting journalist who attempts to penetrate the international ring of thieves known as The Vampires. Among the most fascinating of these sophisticated thieves and assassins is Irma Vep (Musidora), a black-clad seductress whose name is an anagram for ''vampre'' and who endures today as an icon of European cinema.
At times gruesome, fantastic, and romantic, Les Vampires was a spectacular accomplishment that influenced filmmakers for generations. This Kino Classics edition is authorized by the Gaumont Studios, and was mastered in HD from 35mm film elements restored by the Cinematheque Francaise, and is accompanied by a new musical score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.
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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.
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!
Most recent customer reviews
Les Vampires makes you long for these great silent films.