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Work in Progress.
A companion piece to Fantômas, this similarly atmospheric theatre
spectacle inspired by the original Les Vampires serial by Louis Fueillade introduces the
notoriously seductive and ruthless figure of Irma Vep (an anagram of Vampire). The story
isn’t about bloodsucking vampires but an evil gang of crooks called Les Vampires who
stop at nothing to get what they want.
The original 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
The serial consists of ten episodes, which vary greatly in length. Being roughly 6.5 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.
As in our version of Fantômas, this theatre show combines ilusionary Magic Lantern and
cinematic effects within the macabre theatre setting.