THE MYSTERY OF THE ROCKS OF KADOR (1912)
aka Le mystere des roches de Kador, In the Grip of the Vampire
Article 4116 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Leonce Perret
Featuring Suzanne Grandais, Emile Keppens, Leonce Perret
What it is: Melodrama
An heiress is under the guardianship of her tutor, but the latter stands to inherit the fortune for himself is something happens to his ward. The tutor plots against the heiress…
One of the first things I noticed about this one was how familiar the basic premise was. Then I realized it was the same premise that drives the whole serial THE PERILS OF PAULINE, and the fact that the villain of that serial resembles the villain of this short (played by the director, Leonce Perret) makes me wonder if this might have influenced the other one. This is also one of those movies that ended up on my “ones that got away” list because I hadn’t been able to match up the title that I was given (IN THE GRIP OF THE VAMPIRE) with the French title of this one; it was only with the help of a member of CHFB that I was able to make the connection. The fantastic content of this one includes a drug that renders the heroine unconscious, and an original and rather intriguing cure for the madness of the heroine; the crime is recreated in a film and shown to the heiress, thus restoring her sanity. On the surface the story seems a bit silly, but Leonce Perret was a skilled and innovative director, and that skill goes a long way towards making this one an intriguing and fun movie, with strong acting, creative staging, and a nice sense of character.