Friday, January 21, 2022

365 Days: #21 Les Vampires Episode 5: The Corpse's Escape (1916)

The Vampires may have gotten away with the goods in yesterday's episode, but Philippe still managed to catch the criminal, Juan-José Moréno. What evil deeds will happen this time around?

#21 Les Vampires Episode 5: The Corpse's Escape

Juan-José Moréno is in Examining Magistrate Hamel's office, with whom Philippe has been working closely, and is about to be locked away, but before that can happen, he pulls a pill out of his ear, saying they won't take him alive, then swallows it and collapses to the floor. They assume he popped some cyanide and declare him dead. Since it's too late to take him to the morgue, they lock him in a holding cell for the evening. 

In the night, Moréno's body rises up and chokes the life out of the guard who has entered his room. 

Moréno dons the guards clothing and escapes to his hideout, which happens to be near Mazamette's dwelling, who happens to have insomnia and has decided to have a smoke and water the plants on his sill, allowing him to observe Moréno furtively sneaking into his getaway. He goes out to peek through their keyhole, when Moréno and his goons exit, causing him to nonchalantly walk away as he smokes on his pipe.

In the morning, Philippe goes with the magistrate to Moréno's cell, and they discover the guard in his place, who has been choked to death.

Mazamette sneaks over to Moréno's hideaway and makes an impression of the lock.

While Philippe pens the dramatic tale of the prior evening, a rock is thrown through his window, shattering the glass. When he looks out the window to see who is responsible, he is hooked around the neck and pulled out of his second story room into the waiting arms of the Vampires, who stuff him into a trunk, and load it onto a car to take to their hideout. 

They unload the trunk next to a set of stairs, and as they turn their backs to talk to the driver, Philippe rocks the trunk so that it goes careening and tumbling down the steps. They chase after it, but when they see two gentlemen at the bottom of the stairs, they run the opposite direction. 

The men open the trunk and find Philippe dazed and battered within. He hands them his card, and they notice the trunk is from the Pugenc Costume ompany, which Philippe records in his notebook. He thanks the men for their assistance.

The next day, he goes to the Pugenc Costume company. Unbeknownst to him, Moréno is in the other room renting police uniforms for his accomplices. He has his goons create a diversion as they exit the establishment so Philippe does not see him sneak out. 

Philippe interviews the proprietor to find out who had the trunk he was stuffed inside. The man tells him it was used to ship costumes for a séance to the Baron de Mortesaigues, who happens to be hosting a reception at his hotel that evening.

Moréno sees Philippe leave the costume company and calls his car over to tell his goons to follow. Philippe sits down at a cafe and Moréno walks over and joins him. Philippe is displeased and calls for the police, who immediately come grab Philippe and drag him into the waiting vehicle, as Moréno hops on next to the driver.

Meanwhile, Mazamette goes to Moréno's hideout and uses the key he made from the impression to let himself inside. A few moments later, Moréno and his fake cops arrive with Philippe bound and gagged. Moréno takes Philippe's notebook, telling him a gunshot would be too easy a death and that he'll die by hanging. One of his goons lets down a noose and Moréno slips it over Philippe's head. He says he'll let Philippe live if he gives him a way to get revenge on the Vampires. Philippe agrees, and the noose is removed from his neck. 

He has Moréno go through his notebook to find the notes about the Baron de Mortesaigues, who he says is the Grand Vampire. Moréno decides to give him his notebook back, but warns him that he'll get the rope if he's lying. The accomplices bind him and tie him to the wall, and they all leave. 

Mazamette steps out of a car he's hiding in and releases Philippe, explaining how he got there. They leave the hideout.

The Grand Vampire, posing as the Baron de Mortesaigues, is having a swanky birthday party for his niece, who happens to be Irma Vep. He tells the elite crowd there will be a surprise at midnight. Just before midnight, the Vampires slink out of the room, and a gas is released through the vents that causes the attendees to begin passing out. They find they are locked inside and cannot escape, as they bang on the doors for release, finally succumbing to the noxious gas and crumpling to the floor. 

The Vampires reenter the room in their black garb, and begin scavenging jewelry and riches from the corpses. 

They change back to street clothes to make their getaway, not knowing that Moréno is riding atop their car where all the loot is stashed. He begins to toss the bags full of treasures off the moving car, and waits a while before jumping off. He runs back to collect the bags. 

In the morning, Philippe and Mazamette arrive with the police at the Baron's residence and remove the boards from the windows. It turns out the guests are not dead and the fresh air revives them. 

Mazamette goes to see Philippe the next day when a message arrives from Moréno, informing him that his information helped him obtain a fortune. Mazamette says he is disgusted by his honesty. Philippe shows him a quote from The Fables of La Fontaine that says, "In all things, one must consider the end."

Well, it's hard to tell if Philippe was having a good day or not. He was captured by two rival gangs and ended up escaping both. He didn't prevent a crime, but prevented the perpetrators from enjoying the spoils. I like how the audience was led to believe that the Vampires would gas a room full of people to death and pick over them like vultures. I wonder why we didn't get to see them discover that they got ripped off by Moréno. Perhaps more will unfold between these two gangs of criminals in the next episode. 

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