417 minutes

Dir: Louis Feuillade

Producer: Gaumont

Cinematography: Manichoux

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If you like your buttocks raw but you don’t want to pay someone for privilege, clocking in at 417 minutes is Les Vampires, a crime serial that debuted all the way back in 1915.

What I love about Les Vampires is the pomposity of it all… it plays its characters larger than life in a Sherlock Holmes on acid type of way. At the center of it you have a plot more contemporary and hipster-ish than what you think 1915 is capable of producing. The svelte ringleader of Les Vampires, Irma Vep, prances around causing chaos in a skin tight costume while avoiding double crossing, skullduggery and tries to hold Paris to ransom. The big question is: will Les Vampires evade capture and carry out their dastardly plans?

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Les Vampires was shot in the middle of World War 1, which means some of the extras and smaller parts had to be written out when the actors were called up to the Western Front. It’s tidbits like this which make Les Vampires feel like you’re watching a piece of history as much as a fantasy detective saga.

And if your bottom is just groaning looking at the duration: stop being a class A pussy, It’s cut down into 10 bite-size episodes with pulp names such as ‘The Severed Head’ which makes Les Vampires pretty much the first ever cinematic box set.

Les Vampires is a staple diet of any French film student but has sadly been a bit neglected beyond the borders. So if you’re into silent films, and fancy a series of interesting plot twists that were largely made up on the spot, give Les Vampires a crack.

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Tips to enjoy Les Vampires (1915)

– Les Vampires has some of the best names every given to characters. Adopt a pet and give them one of these: Mazamette, Marfa, Mr. Metadier, Venomous, Augustine Charlet.

– Not into the silent film music score? Try turning it off, and using a contemporary one of your own.


-Elements of the film form the basis of the 1996 film Irma Vep, which tells a story about a foiled remake of Les Vampires.

-The advertising campaign that supported Les Vampires was far ahead of its time – similar to The Omen’s successful ad campaign in NYC in the 70s: both teased the audience with cryptic teasing posters. In Les Vampires’ case it was in the form of Who What? When? And in the case of The Omen it was the numbers 666 that appeared around subways stations and public places.

Can’t find it / buy it here ?


Other Links for Trivia and Info on Les Vampires:

Wikipedia entry


IMDB entry


IMDB Trivia page


Rotten Tomatoes


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