February 12, 2013

LES VAMPIRES BLU-RAY

Fans of Louis Feuillade, pioneering master of the thriller serial, will be pleased to learn that his 1915 crime masterpiece Les Vampires has been released on Blu-ray by Kino. Set in Paris, the film follows the adventures of an investigating journalist on the trail of a secret organization know as Les Vampires. Musidora stars as Irma Vep, a character that was later resurrected in the 1996 film starring Maggie Cheung and Jean-Pierre Leaud. Like Feuillade's other masterpieces, Fantomas and Judex, Les Vampires is filled with fun genre-defining conventions, like mysterious evil masterminds, trap doors and secret passageways, the 'playboy detective', the femme fatale, and those kinky black catsuits we associate with Mrs. Emma Peel from The Avengers. From what I've seen so far, the new transfer, lovingly restored and remastered by the Cinematheque Francaise, is beautiful and a big improvement over earlier releases. Here are a few choice images. See the review at DVD Beaver here. The Blu-ray is available from Amazon here


From Amazon: "This legendary seven-hour silent French serial, one of the earliest and most original gangster films, combines realism and fantasy. Written and directed by Louis Feuillade, Les Vampires concerns an intrepid reporter's pursuit of a strange gang of jewel thieves terrorizing Paris. The gang ambitiously seeks political, psychological, and sexual domination of the city's social elite, with the seductive Irma Vep (an anagram of "vampire") as its brazen leader.


"While slow going at first, the 10-part serial becomes more and more fascinating with each episode, thanks in large part to the alluring Musidora as Irma Vep. Because of her many guises and frightful charms, she truly becomes a vampire of sorts. Feuillade achieves a subversive, nightmarish atmosphere amid the everyday goings-on of the city. Filmed on the streets and back alleys of World War I Paris, the 1915 picture was a huge commercial success, though temporarily banned by Paris's chief of police for glamorizing crime." -Bill Desowitz


Congratulations again to all of the Spy Vibers who won vintage prizes in our birthday give-away contest! What else is new here in the lair? Scroll down for posts about Lucy Fleming, The Beatles first record session, Ian Fleming's desert island interview, new Fleming book designs, Fantomas, Spy Smasher cliffhanger serial, the new Barbarella tv show, Man From U.N.C.L.E. illustration, British spy comics in the 1960s, Piper Gates retro spy designs, Cinema Retro celebrates James Bond, and Spy Vibe's 2012 top ten, including my review of Skyfall. Want to support Spy Vibe? Please make a small donation with our secure Paypal tip-jar link at the top left of the main page. Nothing is too small to help cover the increasing bills for the domain, web-forwarding and other costs to maintain the site. Thank you!

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