Shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award 2019, Best Non-Fiction category
LES VAMPIRES revolves around the exploits of the Vampires gang, a mysterious group of master criminals terrorising Paris. As much a proto-horror film as a template for high-octane crime and detective tales, the serial was composed on the fly by silent-film pioneer Louis Feuillade and released in 10 episodes throughout 1915 and 1916. It made a bona fide action star of Musidora, who played Irma Vep. LES VAMPIRES is a unique, disorienting experience. It influenced the first wave of Surrealists and shares unconventional narrative techniques and untrustworthy onscreen space with the work of David Lynch. Its sense of helpless paranoia reflects the fact that the Great War was being fought just outside Paris during filming of the serial.
This monograph is a personal response as much as an account of the historical context of the production. It features 10 pieces of weird fiction – one for each episode – remixing aspects of the film to create a new, parallel nightmare for a character who is a mix of the principal influences on the film – Louis Feuillade and Musidora.
“the thorough, detailed, almost scene-by-scene analysis of the serial … is the major and considerable value of this book” Black Static
“Tim Major’s LES VAMPIRES monograph is a delight; it takes a straight path through the myriad secret passages and trap doors of the seven-hour serial, savoring its quaint and malicious highlights and stumbling into hidden rooms throughout where an original work of fiction echoing its influence unfolds piece by piece. Clever and playful, it’s so vivid a recreation of the film in all its magical variety that it’s like watching it again as we read, offering the whys of each indirect and each scarier direct glance onscreen as well as relevant quotes from the likes of Louis Feuillade and Musidora that you’re not likely to know if you’re limited to English sources.” Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog
- Sneak peek – read the full introduction to the book
- Interview with Tim Lucas at Video Watchdog, Aug 2018
- Guest blog post at Silent London, Aug 2018
- Mentioned in John Langan’s summary of horror in 2018, Locus Magazine, Feb 2019
I delivered an academic conference paper, Aspects of the Gothic and the Uncanny in Les Vampires (1915–16) at the Tales of Terror conference on Gothic, horror and weird short fiction at the University of Warwick (21-22 March 2019).