Wednesday, January 26, 2022

365 Days: #26 Les Vampires Episode 10: The Bloody Wedding (1916)

I arrive at this last episode with a certain amount of anticipation and trepidation. Will I be satisfied with the ending? Will it leave me wanting more? The title of this episode has me wondering who will survive and who will perish. I look forward to finding out. 

#26 Les Vampires Episode 10: The Bloody Wedding

Several months have passed since the poisoning at the engagement dinner, and Philippe and Jane have since married, which makes it certain that theirs won't be the wedding that's bloody. Philippe writes his column, saying that nothing has been heard of the Vampires in several months, but that recent events grabbing headlines may have signs of their handiwork. Jane reads what he has written and then settles to do some sewing. 

Augustine Charlet, whose husband was poisoned after drinking the champagne provided by Vampires at the engagement dinner, arrives and breaks down crying. Jane offers her a job as their chambermaid and she happily accepts the offer. Mazamette enters and shows an interest in the widow. 

Augustine goes to her room in the house and takes out cards to divine the whereabouts of the Vampires, one of whom is peering down at her through the skylight. 

The next day, Augustine receives a note informing her that she can unravel the mysteries surrounding her by consulting Madame d'Alba. She asks Philippe for the afternoon off to visit her husband's grave, and he agrees to it. Augustine prepares to visit Madam d'Alba with a gun concealed in her purse. 

Mazamette follows Augustine on her way to see Madame d'Alba, but leaves once she arrives. The Vampires ready themselves inside. Augustine shows the note she received to Madame d'Alba. She accurately predicts that her husband was murdered by poisoning. 

Madame d'Alba says that something is hindering the spirits, and Augustine foolishly hands over her gun. She tells her to see the accomplices and pulls the curtains back to reveal Irma Vep and her Vampire partner. She draws the curtains and reopens them to show that they've disappeared. She then shows the Grand Vampire and then hypnotizes her to command her to open the door to her master's apartment at 2 am. Madame d'Alba is pleased with herself when she leaves.

Mazamette waits for Augustine around the corner and asks if she wants to tell him something. She begs him not to tell Philippe and Jane about her lie. 

Augustine wakes at 2 am and leaves her room in a daze, unaware that Mazamette is stalking her. The Vampires make their way to the door. 

She opens the door and the Vampires bind and gag her and throw her into a chair, as Mazamette observes from behind a curtain. One of the Vampires begins to set up a device that pumps gas into the rooms of the sleeping occupants of the house. 

Mazamette jumps out from behind the curtain and begins shooting. They flee and he pulls the hose out of the door, as Philippe runs out of the room. He says that Augustine opened the door for them. She produces the note about Madame d'Alba. Philippe throws a coat on over his pajamas, and they go to the police station.

While they are at the police station, Jane gets back into bed and checks the gun under Philippe's pillow. The Vampires return and one scales the wall to the window leading to her room. She sees the shutters being opened and feigns sleep. The Vampire cuts the glass, reaches into the room and opens the window. She fires the gun at him and he falls. As she goes to look out the window, they lasso her and pull her out of the window to the ground, carrying her off. 

At daybreak, the police arrive at the home of Madame d'Alba with Philippe, Mazamette and Augustine. One of the Vampires winds rope around Irma Vep, as Augustine goes outside to talk to the driver of a car. Irma climbs onto the roof and allows herself to fall off the side of the building as the rope unwinds to the precise length needed to drop her safely to the ground. She rushes over to Augustine, and the driver helps her subdue Augustine by gagging and binding her. 

As the police try to gain access to the locked room where the Vampires are making their escape, the Grand Vampire lights a fuse and escapes through the roof, climbing down the rope Irma left behind. The police break into the room and Philippe goes to cut the rope, but the Vampire has already made it to the ground and into the car that takes off with Irma and Augustine, as Mazamette runs after it with guns blazing. He realizes that the car is leaking oil 

Philippe returns home to find his wife missing and a hole cut out of a windowpane. Mazamette arrives and a distraught Philippe tells him what he has found. Mazamette tells him they can find the Vampires by following the oil leak from the car. 

The Vampires arrive at yet another hideout with Augustine, and toss her into a room with stones painted on the wall with Jane. The ladies beg for release but are denied, and have nothing left to do but comfort one another. 

Philippe and Mazamette follow the trail of oil on foot. Philippe stops a passing bicyclist and offers money for his bike, and continues to follow the crude trail alone.

He reaches the Vampire lair and makes an impression of the lock on the door. As he is walking by a boarded window, he hears the women crying, and calls down to them through a vent. He uses a rope to lower a gun down to them through the vent. 

Philippe returns at night and uses a rope to climb up to a balcony of the Vampire's hideout, and sneaks inside. 

Meanwhile, the Vampires are celebrating with a wedding feast for Vénénos and Irma Vep. 

While they party, Philippe cuts the boards in the balcony. He waits by the street until he sees a whole lot of police arrive with Mazamette. They make their way into the compound with guns drawn. 

The Vampires continue their feasting, moving the dining table aside so Vénénos can show off his impressive flexibility, followed by a Vampire couple clad in their trademark black bodysuits, who display some acrobatic dance moves.

The police enter through the gate and approach the door. Philippe uses the key had made from the impression of the lock to open the door, and they go inside. 

At the party, Vénénos impresses his guests by drawing a picture of Mazamette and firing his gun at a distance to create the eye in the portrait. The Vampires go crazy and begin dancing frenetically, when the police break in and begin gunning down Vampires. 

As police chase them through the house, Irma ducks into a closet to hide while the rest of the Vampires attempt to escape by way of balcony, falling through the trap Philippe has set, to their deaths on the street below. Philippe and Mazamette sift through the corpses and realize that Irma is not among them. 

She grabs a gun and sees police carrying off the Vampire bodies. She goes to where Augustine and Jane are locked up and waves her gun at them threateningly. While she turns to lock the door, Jane shoots her, and she falls to the ground. Jane opens the door and Philippe and Mazamette rush in and hug the ladies, as Irma clutches her chest and expires. 

Several days later, Mazamette asks Augustine to marry him and she agrees. The couples embrace, seemingly happy now that the threat of Vampires has passed. 

This was a thrilling episode that did not disappoint! Since I have no prior experience with Feuillade and have not yet seen Judex or Fantômas, I wasn't sure whether to expect the criminals or the investigators to be victorious. I liked that the title of this episode had me guessing whose wedding would be the bloody one, and for a short time I wondered if Mazamette and the widow would have the bloody wedding, once it was established early on that Philippe and Jane were already married. I should have anticipated Irma Vep would be hooking up with Vénénos after being passed hand to hand from one Grand Vampire to the next. I had sort of hoped she might take over as Grand Vampire herself at some point in the series. I could imagine a present day remake that continues the series with Irma Vep surviving the gunshot, starting her own crime syndicate, and exacting revenge on Philippe and Mazamette in unending, torturous ways. It's amazing how films can continue to entertain and inspire over a century later.

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