Les Vampires


Time Out says

1915: Slaughter at Gallipoli; first use of gas on the Western Front; Lusitania sunk. And as diversion, this serial saga (in 10 episodes) of a band of robbers whose principals include Satanas, who keeps a howitzer behind the fireplace and a bomb under his top hat, and Irma Vep, the notorious anagram, to whom Olivier Assayas rendered homage 80 years later. There's a hero (a resolute reporter), but all the interest goes to Irma and Co - their heists, their feuds with a rival gang and with the agents of law and order, all conducted by means of slaughter, gassing and sinking, on a scale and insouciance appropriate to the time. There's a comic strip aspect ('Episode 1: The Severed Head'), a roundelay of disguises, kidnappings, secret codes and acrobatic getaways. And simultaneously there's the poetry of the grey deserted Paris streets, our consciousness that the trenches are only a bus ride away; and the idea of a separate world of mischief and anarchy, situated just beyond the everyday. It's possible to overstate the extent to which all this is a bunch of fun: if shown, as it often is, in one great unnatural marathon, it can be sheer torture. Best viewed on tape.


Release details

440 mins

Cast and crew

Louis Feuillade
Louis Feuillade
Edouard Mathe
Marcel Levesque
Jean Aymé
Louis Leubas