Dating from 1915 this actually a serial that ran into 1916. It's what people used to do LONG before there was television. By the mid 1910's these really were a dime a dozen; so much so that many were simply discarded. This French production was actually rescued from complete destruction from a trash heap by the side of the road.
|The most famous still from the film: The Vamp Irma Vep|
It was original broken into 10 films and now the restored to disc addition by Image Entertainment runs a w'/hopping 7 hours! I've only ever screened it through all the way once--in fact, it was a couple of Halloween seasons ago, during a crime theme as part the countdown to Halloween. It was one epic viewing!!
It was part of a day of crime, and not vampires, because it is a crime serial. Yes it is laced with supernatural elements in some places, but they are subtle. It is also a kind of vaguely super-human sort of vision of occulted crime syndicates--organized crime. For the longest time, secret crime organizations were denied not just in Italy and the US, but in other countries as well, and France was no exception. And this was no ordinary crime syndicate--as it is run by a woman who is called Irma Vep, whose very name is a reworking of the word "vampire." When the serial first debuted, it was, in fact banned by the Paris police. But the "damage" had been done. The serial had created the character of "The Vamp"--evil women with dark hair that were always out for something that was most definitely not theirs!
Here is a Halloween special, part 1 of Les Vampires, entitled "The Severed Head."