Underground Film Journal

DVD Underground: Les Vampires

DVD cover of Les Vampires featuring a deranged woman

Official description: 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 on one two-sided disc, with English titles and inserts, tints and an evocative orchestral score.

Distributor: Image Entertainment

Availability: Amazon | Netflix

Contains:

  1. Les Vampires (1929), dir. Louis Feuillade

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