An intrepid reporter and his loyal friend battle a bizarre secret society of criminals known as The Vampires.
Les Vampires is a 1915–16 French silent crime serial film written and directed by Louis Feuillade. Set in Paris, it stars Édouard Mathé, Musidora and Marcel Lévesque. The main characters are a journalist and his friend who become involved in trying to uncover and stop a bizarre underground Apache gang, known as The Vampires (who are not the mythological beings their name suggests). The serial consists of ten episodes, which vary greatly in length. Being roughly 7 hours long, it is considered one of the longest films ever made. It was produced and distributed by Feuillade’s company Gaumont. Due to its stylistic similarities with Feuillade’s other crime serials Fantômas and Judex, the three are often considered a trilogy.
Fresh from the success of Feuillade’s previous serial, Fantômas, and facing competition from rival company Pathé, Feuillade made the film quickly and inexpensively with very little written script. Upon its initial release Les Vampires was given negative reviews by critics for its dubious morality and its lack of cinematic techniques compared to other films. However, it was a massive success with its wartime audience, making Musidora a star of French cinema. The film has since come under re-evaluation and is considered by many to be Feuillade’s magnum opus and a cinematic masterpiece. It is recognised for developing thriller techniques, adopted by Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang, and avant-garde cinema, inspiring Luis Buñuel and others. It is included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
Édouard Mathé as Philippe Guérande, a crack newspaper writer, investigating the Vampires.
Marcel Lévesque as Oscar-Cloud Mazamette, Guérande’s friend and coworker, who is working undercover for the Vampires.
Jean Aymé as the First Grand Vampire, a master of disguise.
Frederik Moriss as Venomous, the Third Grand Vampire, a chemist genius.
Fernand Herrmann as Juan-José Moréno, head of a ring of crooks rival to the Vampires. Moréno possesses a hypnotic gaze that he uses to control people.
Musidora as Irma Vep, the mistress of succeeding Vampire leaders, she carries out many of the ring’s plans.
Louis Leubas as Father Silence, a deaf mute working for the Vampires / Satanas, the Second Grand Vampire.
Delphine Renot as Mme. Guérande, Philippe’s mother.
Louise Lagrange as Jane Bremontier, Philippe’s fiancée and later wife.
Jeanne Marie-Laurent as Mme. Brémontier, Jane’s mother.
Germaine Rouer as Augustine, widow of a Vampire victim and eventual fiancée of Mazamette.
René Poyen as Eustache, Mazamette’s son.
Stacia Napierkowska as Marfa Koutiloff, a dancer and early love interest for Philippe
Rita Herlor as Mrs. Simpson, an American multimillionaire.
Émile Keppens as George Baldwin, an American millionaire.
Renée Carl as the Andalusian.
Suzanne Delvé as Lily Flower (sometimes Fleur-de-Lys), an accomplice of Moréno.
Miss Édith as Countess de Kerlor, a Vampire.
Georgette Faraboni as the Vampire Dancer.
Suzanne Le Bret as Hortense, Irma’s servant.
Maurice Luguet as De Villemant.
Mademoiselle Maxa as Laure.
Gaston Michel as Benjamin, Mazamette’s servant.
Laurent Morléas as Grand Army Officer.
Thelès as the Magistrate.
Jacques Feyder as a party guest.
Françoise Rosay as a party guest.