Martyrs has ascended to an almost legendary status in the horror community. It’s widely considered one of the most violent, brutal, and depraved movies of all time. If horror fans are known for anything, it’s for having full blown dick measuring contests over who can watch the most despicable shit and not be fazed. And every time someone mentions “extreme cinema” or “most disturbing movies” in any corner of the internet, these horror fans all rush in jerking themselves off over how little they feel when watching sickening stuff. This to me defeats the purpose of horror movies, which is to make you feel. Sure, the feelings are usually dread, hopelessness, or disgust, but they all have their place when you allow yourself to open yourself up in a controlled environment such as a when watching a film.
Speaking of opening yourself up, let’s talk about Martyrs.
Martyrs is the infamous 2008 horror film and top dog entry into the New French Extremity scene. Written and directed by Pascal Laugier (who is really not known for anything else of note), this film is burdened with the unending hype of a thousand thrillseekers, gorehounds, and horror fanatics across the globe. It’s been given somewhat of a new boost in popularity since the American remake was released a few years ago to complete critical panning, driving viewers to seek out the original, unbutchered version.
This movie starts with a hard, cold open of a very young girl, Lucie, escaping an abandoned factory. She’s bloodied and broken, limping through the streets. Once she is rescued and brought to a home for traumatized children, she begins seeing a mutilated humanoid creature that regularly stalks her and occasionally hurts her. After fifteen(!) years, Lucie deduces that she must get revenge on the people who scarred her when she was a child in order to appease the creature that has been haunting and hurting her for over a decade. Armed with a double barreled shotgun, she forcibly enters a family’s house and massacres them in one of the most vicious home invasion scenes ever put to film.
And that is all you get as a synopsis before I enter heavy spoiler territory.
The worst facet of any artist, is their fans. I don’t know who said it originally but I can say, tongue fully removed from cheek that I believe that statement to be true. Maybe more now than I ever thought possible.
Misery is one of many Stephen King novels to be turned into films, Made in the 1990 (although written in ’87), the novel was written at the height of King’s party hard phase. While I have not read the book, I firmly believe that the film imparts some of the source material’s author’s wild side with it. Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is a prolific author, much like Stephen King himself. However, unlike King he’s painted himself into a corner writing sappy historical romance novels for longer than he cares to admit. The novels focus around a woman named Misery and follow her trials and tribulations, and have garnered him great success and wealth. Sheldon is tired of Misery, though. He yearns for something new, something that will solidify him as a serious tour de force in the world of fiction literature. When he finally finishes his first draft of the final novel in the Misery series, he gets into a terrible car accident on his way to his editor. Rescued and being cared for by his self-proclaimed number one fan, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), Paul Sheldon finds himself learning that fandom is a deep, deep rabbit hole and those who live in its furthest depths can be warped and perverted by it’s pressures. (more…)
For those out of the loop on my self-imposed suffering: Hellraiser (1987), Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth (1992), Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996), Hellraiser V: Inferno (2000), and Hellraiser VI: Hellseeker (2002). Let’s get down to business.
Hellraiser: Deader is the seventh and worst titled sequel in the Hellraiser franchise. At this point, the franchise is past dead (you could say it’s deader?), with both this and its successor Hellraiser: Hellworld being released straight to TV in the same year. Rick Bota, often credited with singlehandedly destroying the Hellraiser name was directing this entry, as he did with the sixth and was going to do with the eighth. Again, this is a movie made from an unrelated horror script that Miramax and Dimension Films had laying around where they shoehorned Pinhead in and sprinkled the Hellraiser mythos over top.
This time, we follow Amy Klein (Kari Wuhrer, Anaconda), a hardened guerrilla journalist for a British paper who often goes deep undercover to get her story. We’re introduced to her pretending to be a hard drug addict in a crack house, taking pictures and doing journalist stuff, not that the story she’s working on is ever explained, but whatever. When she returns to the paper that she writes for, her boss gives her a grisly new assignment: investigate the alleged suicides and resurrections that have been happening in an underground scene in Bucharest, Romania. The people who kill themselves are brought back to life by a cult leader type figure named Winter where they are new referred to as “Deaders”. I hope somebody got fired for writing that in the script. There’s been a leaked VHS tape of one of the necromantic rituals, and going off of only the return address on the package, Amy needs to track down this cult to expose them to the world.
Many of you who have read through this blog probably know my opinions on Blumhouse Productions by now. For those of you who don’t, I have a tumultuous, love-hate relationship with them. They single-handedly shot horror into mainstream culture about a decade ago with low budget, decent quality movies which is awesome, but they’ve been resting on their laurels since, and have begun pandering to the lowest common denominator because they’ve discovered the secret formula to print money (See: Paranormal Activity 5: The Ghost Dimension’s $10 million budget and nearly $80 million box office return).
They seem to be running on a business model of throwing as many low budget horror movies at the wall as possible and seeing which ones stick. Majority of them are kinda shitty movies that bounce off harmlessly, but every once in a while, a real gem will come through, and when it sticks, it sticks. I’m talking non-stop critical acclaim and 4700% returns on it’s budget here, people. This ain’t some Mickey Mouse shit here.
Get Out is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, and the fact that the surrealist funnyman (from sketch comedy duo Key & Peele) chose to direct a horror movie is an interesting one.
Get Out is a horror film about Chris and Rose (Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams) a young couple who have been going steady for a while. Rose invites Chris to spend a weekend at her rich parents’ (Dean is a neurosurgeon and Missy is a psychologist, played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener respectively) house, except there’s one hang up — Rose’s parents, the Armitages, don’t know that Chris is… black. Don’t worry, because Rose assures Chris that her parents might be super-white, but they’ll try their absolute hardest not to offend Chris, no matter how cringe-worthy they might get.
White people, am I right?
When Chris finally gets to spend a weekend with he Armitages and their super old, affluent white friends, he notices things are kind of off around the house. The two servants happen to be black, and seem to behave from incredibly off kilter to completely hostile. Some awkward phrases are exchanged between family members, their servants, and Chris and our protagonist slowly realizes that something much more sick and twisted is going on than casual, inadvertent racism.
White people, am I right?
Editor’s Note: I started writing this out of pure unadulterated passion when I got home after watching this. After sleeping it off, I continued writing it in a much more calm, cool, and collected fashion. I decided to keep the bits I wrote the night of.
I’m writing this while sipping on a pilsner and riding out a sugar high from too many Mars bar bites. My friends and I made an evening out of this. We assembled with snacks and whiskey and craft beer and watched one of the worst received movies this year. We do this often, bad movie nights, but this feels special. It’s a bittersweet feeling, making a ritual out of consuming somebody else’s art to purposefully make fun of it.
Wait, did I just call The Bye Bye Man art? Fuck me. I’d like to formally apologize to the entirety of human arts and culture. (more…)