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USA 1978
Directed by
George A. Romero
95 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
4 stars


Synopsis: Martin (John Amplas) is a young man who is convinced he is a vampire. On his way to his elderly uncle’s house he drugs and kill a young girl and drinks her blood. Staying with his uncle he becomes a local celebrity on late night talk radio. This brief brush with fame will not last, however, as his uncle, believing that his nephew is a nocturnal bloodsucker, is intent on killing him and saving Martin’s soul.

Ask most discerning movie-goers about director George A. Romero and the dreaded ‘Z’ word is almost guaranteed to spring to mind. Romero is the man who brought zombies to the masses with his “Living Dead” trilogy that started with Night Of The Living Dead in 1968. Anyone willing to delve further into the legend’s career will find a plethora of gems well worth hunting down. From Knightriders (1981) to The Crazies (1973), the films, while not hits at the box office show a director comfortable across a range of genres. Martin, the director's own favourite film, combines vampire chills with an affecting drama to produce a bloodsucker like no other.

At the heart of Romero’s touching tale of vampirism is a beautifully-judged performance from John Amplas. The image of a vampire as the elegantly cloaked, lady-killing blood-sucker has become so clichéd that Romero’s masterstroke was to cast a skinny, pale, misfit in the role. Gone are the fangs and the hypnotic stare, Martin has to make do with drugs and razor blades to sate his thirst for the red stuff. He strikes a tragic, desperate figure, even if his modus operandi is to kill and drink blood.

The special effects by Tom Savini show hints of the talent he would later develop on splatter classics like Dawn Of The Dead (1978) and Creepshow (1982). This was the duo’s first collaboration and realism is out of the window as the garish, bright red blood flows in abundance. The visual aspect of the film is also heightened by the use of Gothic black and white footage during some of the film’s surreal flashbacks.

Martin works on every level. As a visceral horror film, Romero certainly doesn’t hold back and as a touching human drama, even if the central character is a vampire, it is a deeply affecting experience. One of the director’s finest and an unheralded classic of the vampire genre, Martin is a must-see for anyone who thinks they have had their fill of bloodsucker films.




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