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Les Vampires

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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(Aug 14, 2012)
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(Apr 05, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

A legendary seven-hour silent crime serial in ten episodes. "Les Vampires" follows the exploits of a brazen and resourceful band of arch-criminals who rob the rich, transfix the elite of France, and almost elude the obsessive pursuit of crusading journalist Phillipe Guerande and his sidekick Mazamette. A series of Grand Vampires with names such as Satanas and Venomous share the irresistible Irma Vep (an anagram of "vampire") as strategist and mistress. Sometimes seductively garbed in a black body stocking and a black hood, sometimes disguised as a boy or hidden in plain view as a maid, stenographer or bourgeois spinster, feared and desired by both her cohorts and stalkers, Irma is perhaps the first liberated screen woman. Shot off-the-cuff by writer-director Louis Feuillade in the streets and interiors of 1915 Paris, "Les Vampires" was banned by the Paris police for glorifying crime. A smash hit when finally released, and for fifty years celebrated as a masterpiece of French cinema, "Les Vampires" is complete and restored, with English titles and inserts, tints and an evocative orchestral score.

Special Features

  • Insert Essay, "The Public Is My Master: Louis Feuillade and Les Vampires" by Fabrice Zagury
  • "For the Children" (1916), a three-minute comedy sketch by the cast and crew of Les Vampires to raise funds for the French war orphans
  • "Bout de Zan and the Shirker"(1916), an eight-minute comedy that features the child actor Bout de Zan from Episode 8 of Les Vampires and is directed by Louis Feuillade

Product Details

  • Actors: Musidora, Édouard Mathé, Marcel Lévesque, Jean Aymé, Fernand Herrmann
  • Directors: Louis Feuillade
  • Writers: Louis Feuillade
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 5, 2005
  • Run Time: 399 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305837147
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,026 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Les Vampires" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
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.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
This is a treat indeed! Not reviewing the film (which is really good) I would like to discuss the technical data. The transfer is quite good, although not the best possible (i.e. the special features - two ultrashorties - are of amazingly good quality), but this is in no way the fault of the producers of this DVD. The picture is gently toned in sepia, green or blue thus assisting the scene. The new soundtrack is really superb: a small concert orchestra (possibly a septet) plays typical silent film horror music, with sometimes the popular tunes of the period melted in effortlessly. I have sometimes used this DVD simply for the purposes of music! The included booklet is very useful as well. All in all - you are unlikely to find a better silent movie, transferred in correct speed, with great score, very sensible actors, and good quality. Not to mention the MOOD...! My only complaint is that all the old French texts have been dropped and have been replaced with still image texts in English, but that really is not important. Grrrrrreat job, thanks!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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