Saturday, 6 February 2010

LES VAMPIRES/The Vampires (1915) Episodes 1-5

You either appreciate Louis Feuillade or you don't. Reading the IMDb noticeboards the posts are pretty evenly split between the do and don't faction. My introduction the Feuillade's serial was a lucky one during the mid-Sixties when I was lucky enough to see a screening of JUDEX with a live piano accompaniment by the pianist Arthur Dulay. I found the experience fascinating although it took me another forty years before I caught up with his most famous creation, FANTOMAS. It was a pretty forgone conclusion that I would be totally entranced by LES VAMPIRES which was made between the two titles mentioned above. What I love about these films particularly is the way Louis Feuillade uses the streets and rooftops of Paris, the use of automobiles (still in their infancy) and how one is suddenly struck by striking and unexpected images - the black clad Vampires (not bloodsuckers here, but a gang of criminals) moving slowly through a salon robbing the corpses of their victims, the hero being yanked out of a second storey window by a noose, or the black clad "vampiress" Irma Vep. It is easy to see why French directors such as Georges Fanju (who remade JUDEX) and Alain Resnais were such fans of these serials. Rating **** Note: The serial has 10 episodes and although there is an ongoing story of the hero's fight against Les Vampires each episode can, more of less be viewed separately.

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