9 May 2012 8:04 PM, PDT | MUBI | See recent MUBI news »

Louis Feuillade's great serials of the nineteen-teens (Fantomas, Les Vampires etc) inspired numerous imitations, sequels and parodies: they still lurk behind the makeshift digital scenery of the modern action film, making threatening shadows and cackling mutely. 

I've long been fascinated by the followers of Fantomas—and how I long to see Zigomar (a.k.a. Zigomar the Eelskin, 1911), directed by somebody rejoicing in the name of Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset, which actually predates the screen adaptation of Allain & Souvestre's master-criminal. The slippery Zigomar even manages a spectacular escape from the electric chair itself, reverse-rappeling into the ceiling at the crucial moment.

Above: "It's a severed hand, isn't it?"

What I have managed to see is La secta de los mysteriosos (The Mysterious Sect, 1914), or those parts of it which survive. Spain's answer to Feuillade, Alberto Marro, serves up an elaborate adventure in Barcelona, with a trio of black-masked desperadoes, known as »

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