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Les Vampires

Musidora , Édouard Mathé , Louis Feuillade    Unrated   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 44.99
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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.


This legendary seven-hour silent French serial, one of the earliest and most original gangster films, combines realism and fantasy. Written and directed by Louis Feuillade, Les Vampires concerns an intrepid reporter's pursuit of a strange gang of jewel thieves terrorizing Paris. The gang ambitiously seeks political, psychological, and sexual domination of the city's social elite, with the seductive Irma Vep (an anagram of "vampire") as its brazen leader. While slow going at first, the 10-part serial becomes more and more fascinating with each episode, thanks in large part to the alluring Musidora as Irma Vep. Because of her many guises and frightful charms, she truly becomes a vampire of sorts. Feuillade achieves a subversive, nightmarish atmosphere amid the everyday goings-on of the city. Filmed on the streets and back alleys of World War I Paris, the 1915 picture was a huge commercial success, though temporarily banned by Paris's chief of police for glamorizing crime. --Bill Desowitz --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Newer issue has Two DVD March 13 2009
While I have never received a DVD from Amazon (.de, .fr, .jp, c.o.uk, or .ca) that had a tag ON the DVD - in 10 years of buying from amazon, I bought this twice, once for a friend and much later, after having seen it, also for myself.
Both Sets contained two single-sided DVD.
This is to encourage other would-be buyers to ignore the 1 Star reviews.
Also a tag ON the DVD could ruin a single-sided DVD just the same, as the reflector side under the paint is needed for properly playing the DVD.

As for the contents, it is a great saga and really worth watching. There is another french film which ties in with it, altough totally different and much newer: Irma Veep (1996). It tells the story of trying to remake Les Vampires.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I took the two 1 star reviews to heart and bought a second hand copy instead. It came perfect. (I would give this movie a 3 1/2 stars rather then the full four stars)

As for the movie. To me any silent movie is pretty cool, but now having over 150 of them I could see this with a more critical eye.
There were some very cool shades of toning on the various scenes. I have seen old movies where the outside scenes are in blue tint and the interior shots are in sepia (Broken Blossems is and example) , but this movie had at least five tints! blue, sepia, dark sepia (interior dark) green, and red and seemingly endless varieties of shades.

The acting by the main charachter was above par for the period, but his friend (Mamzette) and many supporting male actors was often terrible...though the female actors didn't seem to fall into the trap the men fell into so often. Mamzette should have been in a comedy or something as he constantly kept looking at the camera as though we were there, but often he was simply peeking or looking for cues or who knows what, or just hamming it up. He got a little better near the end, but overall he was quite distracting. His looking at the camera seemed to be for a variety of reasons, some of it to include the viewer, but that was only part of it. He was constantly aware of the camera and kept playing to it...almost as if he wanted to be sure he was being filmed. It was often very silly or distracting. Other players in the movie also had this habbit for looking at the camera so it got a bit silly at times as it was pretty clear they were following coaching, often in mid "act".

One thing that really bothered me was the complete destruction of the original parts you read.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Arrrrrrrrrggggggggggghhhhh!!! Aug. 31 2003
By A Customer
I know -- this is a classic of world cinema, and it's seven hours of heaven to people who love film. Which is what makes this review so frustrating. When I opened this, I noticed that all seven hours is contained on one disc. The DVD is two-sided, which is technically brilliant, and not something I'm that familiar with seeing. Unfortunately, someone should have told the distributor about it, because when you order from amazon, you will receive your DVD with a great big sensor tag smack in the middle of what someone obviously thought was the blank side of the DVD. Removing it ruins the film. Oh, and opening the box to see if your tag is on there violates amazon's returns policy. Amazon, I love you guys, you're the best game in town, but this is a bit of a hiccup. Maybe the sensor tag only went on a couple of these suckers -- I dunno. I'd like to get the film but ordering it again will be a gamble -- a sensor tag this time or not?
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5.0 out of 5 stars That's Entertainment Aug. 29 2002
I have to confess that I first saw "Les Vampires" for academic reasons; because of its influence on the Surrealist movement. But now, having seen the entire series (lovingly restored) on its own terms, I think "Les Vampires" is just what it was originally meant to be-- an exciting, humorous adventure story and sort of a precursor of James Bond. The basic idea is that an investigative reporter becomes privy to the secrets of a criminal gang called "The Vampires" and manages to foil many of their plans. At the same time, WE become privy to the plans and in-fighting that go on between the Vampires and other criminal gangs. The main continuing character on the Vampires' side is Irma Vep, a beautiful cross between Mata Hari, Houdini and John Dillinger. At some point she falls prey to a criminal hypnotist, but she is always an interesting character in her own right and often sympathetic.
Technically, the DVD is wonderful; it contains the entire series on one disk, as well as several promotional films starring members of the cast. The film itself is transfered very well and is appropriately tinted; the entire project was obviously a labor of love, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A cinematic triumph! June 25 2002
Format:VHS Tape
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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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars yeah...
This is just to second the previous reviewer. My DVD has the
&#$%@^% sensor tag on it as well. I can't seem to get the glue off. Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Les Vampires
I saw parts of this on TCM,but missed a few chapters.
This is one of the best movies I've seen.It's a classic. Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2002 by Clyde
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL SERIES! GREAT DVD
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... Read more
Published on April 21 2002 by E. Dolnack
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
Some directors have to see this work. You don't need special
effects and fancy things to achive a good film. Emotion, good
scenario and a lot of personal feeling. Read more
Published on April 11 2002 by "bill66"
4.0 out of 5 stars great, just.....
love the films and great to see them restored so well, am very happy with this purchase except... in one episode the picture broke up slightly 3 times into the blocky terror of all... Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2002 by SockPuppetTheatre
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing better than this
I was leery about buying this movie because it's ... expensive, but let me assure all of you that it is worth the price! Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2001 by M. Surani
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY ME NOW!
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. Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2001 by Mart Sander
5.0 out of 5 stars Irma Vep is not a Vampire
The first thing to note about this film is that it is not about vampires, at least not in the traditional (bloodsucking, garlic, crosses) sense of that word. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2001 by Mr Peter G George
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