From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Les Vampires is a 1915 10-part silent film serial. It was written and directed by Louis Feuillade and stars Musidora as "Irma Vep" a femme fatale whose name is a suspicious anagram of "vampire." The serial is set in Paris, France and contrary to the title, the Les Vampires were not actually about vampires, but about a gang of master criminals cum secret society inspired by the exploits of the real-life Bonnot Gang. The costume of its heroin Musidora was designed by Paul Poiret.
There are 10 episodes, averaging around 40 minutes each; it is about 6 and a half hours total.
The story of the 1996 movie Irma Vep features an attempt to remake Les Vampires.
- La tête coupée (The Severed Head) 33 min. Released on 13 November 1915.
- La bague qui tue (The Killer Ring) 15 min. Released on 13 November 1915.
- Le cryptogramme rouge (The Red Cypher) 42 min. Released on 4 December 1915.
- Le spectre (The Ghost) 32 min. Released on 7 January 1916.
- L'évassion du mort (The Escaping Dead Man) 37 min. Released on 28 January 1916.
- Les yeux qui fascinent (The Hypnotic Gaze) 58 min. Released on 24 March 1916.
- Satanas (Satanas) 46 min. Released on 15 April 1916.
- Le maître de la foundre (The Thunder Lord) 55 min. Released on 12 May 1916.
- L'homme des poisons (The Poison Man) 53 min. Released on 2 June 1916.
- Les noces sanglantes (Marriage of Blood) 60 min. Released on 30 June 1916
In November 1915, the walls of Paris were plastered with street posters that depicted three masked faces with an interrogation sign as a noose, and the questions "who, what when, where?". The morning newspapers printed the following poem:
Of the moonless nights they are kings,
darkness is their kingdom.
Carrying death and sowing terror
the dark Vampires fly,
with great suede wings,
ready not only to do evil... but to do even worse
- Musidora as Irma Vep, the Vampires' strategist who carries out many of the ring's plans.
- Édouard Mathé as Philippe Guérande, a crack newspaper writer, investigating the Vampires.
- Marcel Lévesque as Oscar Mazamette, Guérande's friend and coworker, who is working undercover for the Vampires.
- Jean Aymé as the Great Vampire, the mysterious head of the Vampires.
- Fernand Herrmann as Juan-José Moréno / Brichonnet, head of a ring of crooks rival to the Vampires. Moréno possesses a hypnotic gaze that he uses to control people.
- Stacia Napierkowska as Marfa Koutiloff, a dancer
- Renée Carl as the Andalusian
- Suzanne Delvé as Fleur-de-Lys
- Miss Édith as Comtesse de Kerlor
- Georgette Faraboni as the Vampire Dancer
- Jacques Feyder
- Rita Herlor as Mrs. Simpson
- Émile Keppens as Géo Baldwin
- Louise Lagrange as Jeanne Guérande
- Suzanne Le Bret as Hortense
- Louis Leubas as Satanus / Father Silence
- Maurice Luguet as De Villemant
- Jeanne Marie-Laurent as Madame Brémontier
- Jean-François Martial
- Mademoiselle Maxa as Laure
- Gaston Michel as Benjamin
- Frederik Moriss as Vénénos
- Laurent Morléas as Grand Army Officer
- René Poyen as Eustache Mazamette
- Delphine Renot as Mme Guérande (Phillipe's mother)
- Françoise Rosay
- Germaine Rouer as Augustine
- Thelès as the Judge
The film is distributed in the United States in the DVD format by Image Entertainment, spread over two disks. In France, Gaumont has released a special restored edition in 4 disks. Artificial Eye in the UK has used this restoration for their release spread over three disks, which includes several Feuillade shorts.