Martyrs (2015) + The Vanishing (1993): The Domestic Versions

February 23, 2016 | By

I fully admit I’m fascinated by comparing things. Movies with different scores (The Battle of Britain), butchered theatrical versus director cuts (The Disappearance), early sound versions with different casts for German /French /English languages (1933 and 1935’s The Tunnel), simultaneously shot full-frame and widescreen films (The Big Trail, The Robe) and simultaneously shot CinemaScope and Todd-AO versions (South Pacific), and remakes, especially those in which the original foreign director or a local domestic writer and director(s) was ensnared by Hollywood to redo, but with changes tailored to the local folks.

Martyrs2015_posterSuch is the case with Martyrs, a French-Canadian co-production in which the heroine is beaten / electrocuted and flayed alive, depending on which version; and The Vanishing, in which a boyfriend’s need for closure blinds him to the insanity of riding with his girlfriend’s killer to truly know what happened to his soul mate, plus a few twists and turns (depending on which version).

Vanishing1993_posterBoth reviews of the remakes contain big blatant spoilers, so don’t read them unless you don’t care or have seen the films or are curious. They’re less formally comparative assessments and more attempts to find some virtue in the attempts by theor respective directors to make their English-language versions palatable for studios, for North American audiences, for the MPAA ratings system, and their own sensibilities.

Pascal Laugier’s 2008 Martyrs was remade by the Goetz brothers in 2015 and is available via Anchor Bay on DVD and a lovely Blu-ray transfer, and George Sluizer’s own remaking of The Vanishing  / Spoorloss (1988) in 1993 was released by Twilight Time on Blu, and sports a similarly lovely HD transfer.

Again, there’s oodles of spoilers, but they’re necessary to dissect what works, what doesn’t, and the few new additions that are interesting.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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