Martin (1978) Writer/director George Romero brings his unique vision and social commentary to the vampire mythos with this horror movie. We meet Martin (John Amplas-Creepshow) as he is being sent from the Midwest to live with his aged cousin in Pittsburgh. On the train he attacks a woman in her sleeping compartment with a drugged needle and razor blade, drinking the woman's blood, though it is not clear if he kills her. When Martin steps off the train in Pittsburgh, his cousin, the formidable Tata Cuda (Lincoln Maazel) immediately pronounces Martin "nosferatu" or undead creature. He tells Martin he is well aware of Martin's curse and that he means to stop it. Cuda's granddaughter Christine also lives with them, and she thinks Cuda is crazy because of his suspicions about Martin. However, Martin tells Christine he is 84 years old but that he has no supernatural powers, which he calls magic. The age thing seems impossible but would explain why he and the elderly Cuda are cousins. Christine doesn't believe Martin, but fears he is unstable from listening to Tata Cuda's rants. From there we watch as Martin continues to live the life of a fangless vampire, stalking people and using razor blades to drink their blood. He also takes to calling a radio talk show where he becomes a minor celebrity of the local airwaves, called the Count by the cynical host who doesn't believe anything Martin says but loves the sensationalism for his ratings. It is never clear if Martin really is or isn't a true vampire, but the distinction is kind of moot since he is definitely attacking people and drinking their blood.
|Sometimes vampire bare their fangs; Martin bears his fangs.|
This is an absorbing movie, mixing real drama of lower middle class life in the 70's with the usual Romero social commentary and the horror aspects, with the ambiguity of Martin's character the clincher in making this one of the best horror movies of the 70's and possibly Romero's best as well. It is low budget and rather deliberately paced, but keeps your attention throughout. Romero directs well, interspersing old fashioned black and white vampire movie scenes that seem to be Martin's fantasies (or are they memories?) at key points along the way, and letting the rest of the movie play out in quiet, almost documentary like fashion. The cast is unknown but decent, including Romero himself as a local priest not hip to the old ways of Tata Cuda, and makeup man Tom Savini as Christine's not very pleasant boyfriend. This was also the first time Romero and Savini worked together behind the scenes as well, and Savini provides some fine if somewhat low key gore effects. If you've enjoyed any of Romero's other movies like Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead, or you don't mind slower paced horror fare, definitely give this one a look!
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