Pascal Laugier’s MARTYRS, a HELLRAISER Birthday Cake and MORE!
In this Issue:
- Horror History: Live Through This: Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs
- Image of the Week: Remember, You Must Die
- Tiny Bites – This Week’s Best Horror Headlines
- Things We Love: Such Desserts To Show You
- Hey, That’s Us! – Shudder in the News
HORROR HISTORY: LIVE THROUGH THIS: PASCAL LAUGIER’S MARTYRS
By Alexandra West*
Notorious is a good word to describe Pascal Laugier’sMartyrs (2008). Notoriously violent, bleak, and, on its initial release, hard to get a copy of, Martyrs is made for the horror fan who needs to experience everything.
After its public premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008, Martyrs was released on DVD and gained its reputation among fans as the most extreme entry in the brief but influential subgenre, New French Extremity, a series of films to emerge from France at the turn of the century. FromIrreversible (2002) and Twentynine Palms (2003) toHigh Tension (2003) and Frontiere(s) (2007), New French Extremity was the exact opposite of 2001’s Amelie. They were films that dealt with the very real horrors of modern-day France, from its conservatism to its racism and engrained intolerances. Also, they had fewer garden gnomes.
Martyrs arrived at the tail-end of the movement. Martyrs tells the story of Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï) a young woman who grew up in an orphanage with her protective friend Anna (Morjana Alaoui). Lucie was tortured by unknown assailants as a child and grapples with the demonic PTSD that has followed her since. As the film gets underway, Lucie is about to exact revenge as Anna helplessly tries to stop her. The film then takes several twists and turns that have both endeared and distanced fans from its narrative.
What has stayed with this film are the claims of senseless, unrelenting torture and accusations of misogyny as Martyrs spends a great deal of its runtime on female suffering. Laugier shows with unblinking precision the violence and pain that exists within our world. Claims that these elements serve little to no purpose ignore the trauma that those on the outskirts of society experience.
At the beginning of the film, Laugier defines a martyr as a “witness” which is ultimately what he asks of his audience. The power of Martyrs comes from the viewers’ willingness to bear witness to the darkest parts of humanity and ourselves so that suffering is not without purpose.
Pascal Laugier’s newest film, Incident in a Ghostland, is now available on Shudder.
*Alexandra West is the author of “Films of the New French Extremity” and “The 1990s Teen Horror Cycle” for McFarland & Company. She has co-hosted The Faculty of Horror podcast with Rue Morgue Executive Editor Andrea Subissati since its inception in 2012.
IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Remember, You Must Die
Dark, moody, and rife with enticing symbolism, Agostino Arrivabene’s work is reminiscent of the old world masters like William Blake and Francisco Goya. This particular painting, Vanitas Newtoniana (2015), gives us an unconventional memento mori encased in glass, suggesting not only that we remember our mortality, but that we acknowledge its fragility.
NICHOLAS CAGE, BRIAN DEPALMA AND MORE
The Halloween season may be upon us, but that doesn’t mean Christmas can’t come early. The new Black Christmas trailer is here.
From the shifting face of horror in the 1960s to the frustrating moniker of “elevated horror” in the 2010s, Bustle talks about how the history of the genre from the last 6 decades helped shape audiences’ fears.
Starting with George Méliès’ 1896 short The Haunted Castle and going to 2018’s A Quiet Place, here are some of the greatest game-changing moments in horror history.
Carrie director Brian De Palma spoke about his upcoming #MeToo-inspired horror film as a reaction to the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
We can all agree that Pennywise the Clown is terrifying. But some kids in Australia are having a hard time looking at his face on billboards for IT: Chapter 2.
2018 was an amazing year for horror and an even better year for women in the genre. From Toni Collette’s shocking performance in Hereditary to Madeline Brewer’s star-making turn in CAM, here are some of the best.
On the heels of the world premiere of Jeff Barnaby’sBlood Quantum at TIFF, he and several other indigenous artists talk about using horror to unpack colonial trauma.
Nicholas Cage says he loved Midsommar, admires Ari Aster, and wants to work with him. What do we have to do to see these two collaborate?
As if he weren’t prolific enough, Stephen King is quickly becoming one of the most adapted living authors of all time, with no signs of the adaptations stopping any time soon.
And Rotten Tomatoes answers that age-old King adaptation question – which one is the best?
Walmart is reportedly selling Zombie Skittles that have an extra flavor, called “rotten,” that tastes, well, rotten. On purpose. They have been described as “like Jalapeño peppers, garlic, and throw up.”
SUCH DESSERTS TO SHOW YOU
Carrollton, Texas cake-maker Karen Disnard loves to challenge expectations with her birthday, wedding, and other special occasion cakes. Take this 50th birthday cake, for example. After all, nothing says “happy birthday” quite like cenobites coming to tear your soul apart.