Wednesday, September 16, 2009

04. Les Vampires (1915)

Running Time: 399 minutes
Directed By: Louis Feuillade
Written by: Louis Feuillade
Main Cast: Musidora, Edouard Mathe, Marcel Levesque, Jean Ayme, Fernand Herrmann, Stacia Napierkowska

As a quick sidenote, before the review, here's a little story for ya': So as I mentioned previously, I have researched every movie up through the thirties for their availability. For this particular movie, I had found it on Netflix streaming, and only streaming, as they did not have it to rent. So I get all geared up Sunday night to sit down and tear into the 399 minute epic, I head over to Netflix, click on "Les Vampires" and realize that they only have the first two parts of this ten part serial. So I figure, I'm fucked. So I buzz through the internet looking for possible leads to a link where I can watch the entire thing...and nothing. I head over to Amazon at one point, just to see if it's available on VHS (as I assume the DVD is unavailable, since Netflix doesn't have it) and see that it IS available on DVD and it's somewhere in the neighborhood of $15. Well, I really don't wanna have a budget for this little journey I'm taking, so that's really not an I'm broke as a joke. Then I'm thinking if the damn thing's available and only $15, why the hell doesn't Netflix carry it? Anyway, after a few moments of cursing Netflix, I head over to the Internet Archive website, a nice little site that has a bunch of links to old movies for free. I type in "Les Vampires" and a link pops up, however, on the bottom it says: "Warning, this is not the entire film, just the first 30 minutes". Well GREAT!! So for some odd reason I get the idea to type in the name of just one of the parts, as each part of the ten parts has it's own title. And guess fucking worked baby!! They had the entire ten parts split up into their own link. So all ended well in the magical land of make believe.
And now I am forever indebted to Internet Archive, for saving my mission from skipping a movie, after only watching three.

Now then...on to the business at hand...

If I were to sum up Les Vampires in one word, I think I'd have to pick...LONG. At an overwhelming 399 minutes, I can say that this one was not an easy task to sit through. Although, it wasn't bad at all. The time does get to you after a while, and you just wanna rip your hair our and move on to something different. I started this thing Sunday night and just finished it today, meaning it took me about three days and five sit downs to put this sucker away. Now that I've vented about the length, let me tell ya a bit of the good about this flick.

So as I mentioned above Les Vampires is broken up into ten parts, which are each named, which helps a lot in getting through it. Here are the episodes and their names and times:

Each episode really doesn't tie into the next all that much. While the main heroes and their principle mission stay the same, the villains tend to switch back and forth between several different characters, with only Irma Vep (an anagram of Vampire and played by Musidora) being a bad "girl" that appears in every episode. Also each episode is different in that the villains have a different plan to thwart the good guys or a different treasure to steal or something in each part.

For me to layout this entire plot to you, would take me as long to write as it took me to watch Les Vampires, but I'll give you the just of it.

Phillipe Guerande is a newspaper man, who's sole mission is to hunt the Vampires, a gang that is terrorizing Paris, France. No, they're not ACTUALLY vampires, that's just the name they go by. As I said above, the bad guys tend to switch out, as they are either captured or killed, by the police along with the support of Guerande and his trusty (and very funny) sidekick Mazamette. You got the Grand Vampire, Juan-Jose Moreno, Satanas and lastly, Venomous taking on the job of terrorizing Guerande. Basically, they want him off their case and they'll do anything to get what they want, including capturing his mother, wife and friends. But it seems they are always outsmarted by Guerande, as he always one ups them at every turn.

I was quite surprised by the cleverness of this 1915 film. For some reason I thought it would be very cut and dry, but on the contrary the plot was very well developed and very intricate and the characters, for the most part, were interesting. The character of Mazamette provided the most enjoyment for me, providing comic relief for the movie. I can't, however, say that it wasn't a chore to sit through this nearly seven hour film, because it was. Like I said, there were times when I just wanted to get on to the next movie, but I still had four hours of Les Vampires left to watch, so I couldn't.

I'm not sure whether this film is a must see before you die or not. I could really argue for both sides. On the one hand, if you don't see it, I really don't think you're missing a WHOLE LOT, and you're saving yourself from having to watch a very, very long film. On the other hand, if you do decide to check it out, I think you'll find, that for 1915, it's quite good and quite intriguing in most parts. So you make the call for yourself on this one...but don't say I didn't warn you about the length.

RATING: 5.5/10 I couldn't decide between a five or a six, so I called it right down the middle.

NEXT UP: Intolerance...More D.W. Griffith FUN!! Hopefully I'll have this review up later tonight, as I'm planning to watch it here in a little bit. Till then...adios!

September 16, 2009 7:51pm


  1. Well I must say I am proud of you for sticking in there! A almost seven hour silent film from 1915 could in no way have been an easy chore. Great job!

  2. Re-posting this, somehow first time, seems it didn't go.
    You are the only person to have even HEARD of this, never mind see it, so great to exchange views.
    Wow, did I love it! So much so, I still have one more to go, don't want it to end.
    OK, I bought the dvd, having seen the first couple from lovefilm (uk's dvd by post leaders), I had to buy it. That helped.. no pressure to rush through. Take 'em one at a time.
    If there is one film I had to thank '1001 MYMSBYD' for 'making' me watch, it is this. Makes up for 'Diary of a country priest' Almost.

  3. That's why I love doing this project because there are so many movies that I never would have watched, let alone heard of, if not for the book. "La Roue" would have to be my big thank you to the book. Fabulous film that I will NEVER forget.

  4. Absolutly. It is easy to critisise people who blindly follow lists, relentlesly 'ticking off' films thst someone has told them they 'must' see. And it's a fair point.. but...
    I'm jealous.. carn't get hold of 'La Roue' in UK...

  5. I've always been a list person, as I learned a while back that if it wasn't for lists, there are a lot of films that wouldn't have gotten a second look from me and that I ended up loving. "La Roue" is brilliant and I really hope you can eventually find it.

  6. Where I live - on the edge of UKs best known National park - The Lake District, we have a thing called 'Wainwrighting'. Back in the 1950's, a guy set himself the task of walking all the hills (we call them fells), by almost every route possible, sketching them as he went, and over the next 15 or so years, self publishing them. They are a national insititution now, and people 'collect Wainwrights@ - Ie set them selves to climb every top in the book.
    Its simular thing. You can say it's blindly following, collecting for collecting sake, but (before my accident), I found it took me to places I would not have gone. Same with this list. Still a pity about 'Diary of a country priest'.

  7. Great story, thanks for sharing. An even better reason to stick with lists. Although I can say that I'm not one who blindly follows them and always agrees with them. I give my criticisms and I certainly dont have a hard time picking a movie for myself once in a while.


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