Monday, January 24, 2022

365 Days: #24 Les Vampires Episode 8: The Lord of Thunder (1916)

How many minutes into this episode will it take for Irma Vep and Moréno to break out of jail?

#24 Les Vampires Episode 8: The Lord of Thunder

Irma Vep has been sentenced to life in prison and is doing time at Saint-Lazare. She is brought before the warden, who informs her she will be transferred to a penal colony in Algeria. On the day of departure, Philippe and Mazamette arrive with police to see her off. She asks about Moréno, and Philippe informs her that he was executed that morning. She is locked in a compartment and taken away by carriage.

Satanas is at home reading an announcement in the paper about Irma Vep being transferred to Algeria on the ship "Jean-Bart." He locks up his trunk and his assistants begin to load his luggage on a carriage. He arrives at the Hotel Beaurivage in Port-Vendres, disguised in a parson's outfit with long beard. One of the workers asks about the large trunk, and Satanas' assistant tells him it's a bell that Father Joachim is taking to his mission in Africa. 

Irma Vep and the other prisoners are at Port-Vendres, where they wait to leave for Algeria. Satanas, posing as Father Joachim, arrives and shows a letter of introduction, asking if he could bring the consolation of religion to the prisoners. He hands out leaflets and Irma recognizes him as he hands her one. She quickly deciphers the coded message within, instructing her to jump overboard. Satanas indicates that she should blow on the note, and when she does, a secret message is revealed, telling her to pretend to have a sprain when she boards the ship so she can be taken to the infirmary at the rear, since there will be an explosion at the front. It further states to come to Paris if she escapes, noting she'd prefer death to life imprisonment if she is unable to get free. 

Inside Father Joachim's room, the assistant is removing cannon parts from the trunk and setting it up as Irma Vep and the prisoners are taken to the ship. He loads it as Satanas looks through his binoculars and gives the signal to fire. The ship is destroyed and Satanas and his assistant quickly dismantle the cannon. 

Philippe and his mom are hanging out at home when Mazamette drops in to share a news item about efforts to have him awarded the Academic Palms. 

Mrs. Guérande leaves the room and Philippe asks Mazamette where he thinks the mysterious shell that hit the Joyeux Cagibi came from. He brings out the Vampire's red notebook of cryptograms and decodes addresses in Montmarte, determining that's where the shell came from. Mazamette says he'll find the cannon himself. Before he can rush off, Philippe receives a telegram notifying him that the Jean-Bart ship was destroyed, leaving no survivors. 

The next morning, Mazamette returns home, after having no success at finding the cannon. His son, Eustache Mazamette, arrives home after having been kicked out of school for his penchant for jokes in bad taste and setting a bad example. Mazamette is unable to stay angry with him for long, and they leave the house dressed to go junking, so that Mazamette could continue to search Montmarte.

As they are walking through the neighborhood, they see a carriage being unloaded. Eustache picks up a hat box and asks why it's so heavy. Mazamette also tries lifting it, and opens it up to reveal a shell inside. He hastily returns it and asks one of the servants unloading the luggage where it's going and learns it belongs to Monsieur Dupon-Verdier on the fifth floor. He records the name and address on a note. 

Satanas reads the news that there were no survivors from the explosion on the Jean-Bart ship. An assistant brings him his top hat and he fits a device inside it. He arrives at Philippe's house posing as civil engineer, Jacques Bertal, with his top hat on and his paralyzing tack hidden in his glove. As Philippe's maid is announcing his arrival, he removes his top hat in the foyer and twists a dial to activate a time bomb, then hangs it on the coat rack.  

He goes in to meet with Philippe and shakes his hand, paralyzing him. He holds a note in front of his face stating that he has been condemned to death by the Vampires to avenge the death of Irma Vep, which he then pins onto his lapel. He tells Philippe that he has paralyzed him and that in five minutes, there will be an explosion and the note will be found on his corpse. Satanas escapes out the window just as Mazamette is passing by. 

Mazamette rushes into the house, tossing the maid aside, and finds Philippe with the note pinned to him. Philippe's mom and the maid rush in the room as Mazamette goes to find the instrument of destruction. He hears the ticking coming from the top hat and sees the clockwork inside it. He quickly tosses it out the window just in time as it explodes outside. He goes back to Philippe's room where everyone is relieved. With his paralysis gone, he tells about the Vampire who came to see him, and Mazamette says he knows where to find the Vampires, and produces the name and address he wrote down. They dash off together. 

While Philippe goes to get the police, Eustache Mazamette arrives at the home of Satanas, as he observes through a mask on the wall. He hands the servant his trash-picker calling card, and the servant goes into the room to show Satanas, who continues to observe as the the young Mazamette opens the door to let his father in, who then hides inside a chest in the entryway. 

Satanas comes out and the boy tells him he recovered some silverware from his trash. Satanas sits on the chest and remarks that he may have brought in a thief and hidden him in the chest. He begins to lock the chest, and the young tyke takes out a gun and shoots him. Satanas falls, but is not dead, and grabs the boy by the throat to strangle him just as the police break in. 

The police drag him off and Philippe asks the boy who he is, and he introduces himself as Eustache Mazamette. They unlock the chest and find Mazamette with a bloodied face, as he received the shot that was intended for Satanas. Eustache begs his forgiveness, but all is well, especially since the Vampires were apprehended.

Meanwhile, a bedraggled Irma Vep drops out of a train car and is assisted by engineers. She concocts a story of thwarted love to explain her dire circumstances.

The station employees clean her up, restore her health, and collect money to help her out. 

At the Howling Cat cabaret, she makes her triumphant return. 

While having their usual Vampire dance party in the basement, one of the Vampires comes down and announces that Satanas has been arrested. They read the announcement in the newspaper, and the chemist, Venomous, claims he is the chief now, as instructed by Satanas, in case of his arrest. He produces a note to verify it. Irma Vep and two other Vampires accompany him to his lab where he opens the instructions from Satanas. His note tells them to mail the envelope marked with a cross and warn the men of den five. Venomous finds the envelope which is addressed to Dupont-Verdier at the prison. He gives the envelope to Irma Vep and she goes outside to drop it in the mailbox.

The next day, the warden is going through the prisoners' mail, and opens the envelope addressed to Dupont-Verdier. The note is from the Moinots who say that justice will be done to correct the judicial error of which he is a victim. The warden blows on the note and holds it up to flame to determine if there are any secret messages. Satanas is playing cards with a guard when the warden brings his message to him. He crumples the note and eats it unseen. He collapses and appears to be dead.

Philippe and his Mom go to visit Mazamette to see how he is doing after being shot in the nose. Philippe shows him an announcement in the newspaper about the end of the Vampires with the deaths of Irma Vep and Moréno, and incarceration of Satanas, with credit given to Philippe and Mazamette. Mazamette's servant rushes in with the latest news that Satanas was poisoned in his cell, which indicates there are still Vampires around to have provided it to him. Eustache gives his word that they'll have those Vampires yet.

I was glad to see reference to the Red Cryptogram, since it seemed that important find had been forgotten. I don't know that we needed to see a repeat of the Vampire dance, but it was a nice throwback to the introduction of Irma Vep. After Moréno's presumed jailhouse death in Episode 5, it's hard not to wonder if Satanas has just pulled the same stunt. Either way, I wonder if Irma Vep will take over as Grand Vampire before the end of the series. Little Mazamette may end up stealing the show. He was a nice addition to this episode. Incidentally, how hard is it to determine from where a cannon has been fired? I would think that would be loud enough to make it easy to tell.

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