Monday, November 22, 2010

A Discussion of “Martyrs” (and an excuse to run a bunch of photos)

With the news that a potentially upbeat remake of the French horror-intensity Martyrs (2008) is in the pipeline, I figured it was time to break out some notes that I’d been sitting on for a while.

This was an e-mail conversion played out on Il Fache-book between myself, Rick (Mr. Toestubber), David Aaron Clark (DAC), and PK.

My including these notes also ties with the upcoming one-year anniversary of DAC’s death. I wish I’d hung out with Dave more often. He was a great guy. Sigh…
So what these e-mails are is me, in July 2009, asking these gentz—whose opinions I trust, respect and seek out—
what they thought of Martyrs:

July 17 at 1:51pm

Hi guys, simply hi!

Okay, I know Rick and PK liked Martyrs, and I'm almost certain DAC did as well (jiminy crickets, while watching the flick, I kept thinking that it was made just for you, Dave)--but I did not like the film.

Despite its plethora of great (twisted) ideas, Martyrs BORED me. I was sitting there snapping my fingers at the TV: get on with it--I get it, move on.
[And I think I was annoyed by the pace *because* of the film's good ideas and mindgames, I felt those deserved a better forum with which to be foisted on the world.]

And the chick who played Lucie? What an annoying bitch: I'm glad she killed herself.

I mean, did I miss something, or is this a case of that random intangibility called personal taste? Inside still rules as the Gallic splatter champ for me...

July 17 at 2:11pm

Must be personal taste, indeed. I was riveted to the screen; you called that one right.
Yeah, the Lucie character was highly annoying; it seemed that she was meant to be. I'd call it a friendly disagreement, Rev. Lerner.

July 17 at 3:33pm

From following the Ivan netflix reviews lately, I must note that he is difficult to please. He hated Vermilion Pleasure Night (that I can understand - it's pretty specifically Japanese humor and I don't even probably "get" most of it) and has been giving low ratings and using the term "boring" on several other movies that (admittedly I assume) are total shit.

Anyway, Martyrs is not a Great Movie, but it has some interesting ideas, is disgusting, surprised me a few times and didn't insult my vast intellect too much.

At this point dave and rick use MY thread to invite each other to porn movie shoots where they are bound to get jizz on their wingtips…

July 17 at 5:17pm

Sorry I'm not in L.A.; I've got a suit and some wingtips that need to have strangers' bodily fluids splattered on them.

I dunno what got into me--it's just that Martyrs COULD have been so great (by Ivanlandia standards)--the flick DID surprise me (plotwise) on a couple of occasions, but then the overall was lacking.
Rick, your assessment is good.

Yes, Rick, many movies now bore me, I'm sorry to say. But when I'm 15 steps ahead of them, well, you get the idea...

But you know what I just rediscovered--and now think is awesome-ish? Michael Winner's The Sentinel: holy shit! Dub it into Spanish and call it a Jodorowsky flick, dub it into Portuguese (the language of dogs) and say it's a Coffin Joe movie!

At this point Dave & I go off on a tangeant; insulting multual acquaintances….

At the end of the night, like the proverbial cavalry saving the day, PK finally chimes in…

July 17 at 9:45pm

Wow, I feel like I have to defend why I was so blown away by Martyrs. Here goes ...

Of all the 'new wave of French horror' films out there I find it the most intelligent.
I love how it constantly threw curveballs at you. There's just so much happening on so many different levels:
There's the relationship between the two girls up front.
There's how the film is fucking with the concept of the 'torture porn' genre.
There's the sect, which is is an awesome put-down of virtually all religions out there.
There's the seemingly all-too-normal family with the torture chamber in their basement (were their kids in on it? you tell me).
There's the 'true crime' element in the photos on the wall downstairs and what's really behind them (how many of us used to visit ... or still do?).

And finally there's the whole transformation/seeing-that-which-you-cannot-unsee/'you bring me closer to God'/horror-as-spirituality ending.
There's are more ideas going on in this film than any recent horror film I can think of. The only recent ones to come close are The Host and Battle Royale.
However, I see Ivan's point in terms of it not being an entertaining movie. Compared to The Host and Battle Royale it falls way short.

For one thing, there's so very little humor in it at all, which makes it a hard going to say the least and ultimately hurts it. We saw Drag Me To Hell and that was a great, fun horror movie. Martyrs sure as hell ain't a 'fun' horror movie.

OK ... I'll shut up now, but that's how I see it. If there are any great new horror movies out there (I've heard Deadgirl is something interesting but I ain't seen it yet) please clue me in.

July 18 at 4:46pm

PK, you rock! That’s a really thoughtful look at the movie.
You’ve helped me respect Martyrs, even if I’m not going to “like” it.

The thing is:
I could sense there was something about the flick---it wasn’t complete and useless garbage—and there were a lot of original ideas, and I did like the twists the plot took
but my negative reaction wouldn’t let me let me think rationally about it. You've seen how bonkers I get if a movie bugs me. There's something wrong with me. (Or, as the Westworld poster would say, "worng.")

And there it is.
(and welcome to all our new followers: hooray!)


  1. Damn! I'm gonna be looking for some new movies (and thoughts) very soon!

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  2. I so love SLAVE. Babe-o-matic! I'm completely digging that.

  3. Heh-heh-heh, glad y'all like the photos... But The United Provinces of Ivanlandia isn't always about the foxy ladies... just a lot of the time...