Now here's a movie that doesn't require a replication of Paris in the early 20th century. The real McCoy is used for the settings, vehicles, costumes, firearms, etc. Since it was filmed in 1916 one can see for example how horse-drawn carriages were still a very popular means of transport in the "modern" sense. If you a true fan of motion picture history -- then you can't afford to miss this gem. It represents the dawn of the motion picture industry before we had well-known movie stars and blockbusters like Intolerance (1916) and Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919).
This film, a series of 10 episodes, tells the story of a gang of thieves and murderers (The Vampire Gang) who are out to create havoc in Paris for their own personal goals. The heros of this tale are a newspaper reporter, Phillipe Guerande, and his hilarious sidekick, Mazamette. Together they aim to foil the latest capers of the gang and find themselves in unexpected trouble throughout the entire series. Ingenious methods by the criminals are used in each episode.
Each episode builds upon the first, so I strongly recommend you watch it in sequence (as if you watching the Sopranos on HBO). It's interesting to see how the characters develop and improve their acting as they gain experience and confidence within their roles. Irma Vep and Mazamette, especially are a treat to watch. Later in the series, both Irma Vep and Mazamete deliberately ham it up for the viewing audience and camera just for fun! Guerande reminded me a lot of Gene Kelly with his clean-cut facial expressions and haircut. Only the last episode (#10) was a disappointment. For some reason, much of the print was washed out in the interior scenes, the tinting inconsistent (many outdoor scenes were red instead of green etc.) and the storyline was unrealistically forced forward (i.e., how did Mazamette enter into Guerande's house at 2:00 am uninvited and how did Guerande climb down the 3rd floor balcony of the Vampires' mansion after he threw away their knotted rope, the Vampires' only means of escape from that level?)
Most episodes are 45 minutes in length, except #10 which is nearly a hour. Even though the entire series runs over 8 hours, don't watch it a double speed as suggested by a previous reviewer. The score adds ambience, suspense & excitement to the Parisian scenes at the appropriate places. Lastly there are two supplements on the DVD. The first is a royal waste (a true supernavel, or "turnip" according to the French), the second is a cute story starring the young boy who played Mazamette's son in "Les Vampires".
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