Directed by Louis Feuillade
Silent with English intertitles
Terrifically-entertaining ten-episode serial from a French filmmaker who's said to have shot something like 700-800 films over the course of a thirty-year career. While essentially a good vs. evil melodrama pitting the Juve-like reporter Phillipe Guèrande against a secret society of Fantômas-like criminals known as Les Vampires, Feuillade's justly celebrated eye for visuals (a rooftop chase here, a hooded criminal's escape through a manhole there) and arch sense of humor (aristocratic soirées are routinely interrupted by things like cannon blasts and knockout gas) lend a provocative proto-surrealist ambiance to the proceedings. Musidora's archvillainness Irma Vep, the badass second-in-command to a series of male "Grand Vampires" with way less charisma and stage presence than her, essentially steals the show, but anyone interested in a well-told tale about black stocking-clad criminals or World War I Paris as seen from the point of view of Molotov cocktail-hurling anarchists should find something to enjoy here. In short, c'est vachement bien!
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