In 1977 George Romero continued to stay ahead of the times and be one of the most creative and original writer/directors in the industry with his awkwardly realistic vampire movie ‘Martin.’
The stereotypes have been around for years and rarely touched: vampires hate garlic, can’t be seen in mirrors, need to feed everyday, can seduce women- basically they are endowed with magical powers. In Romero’s masterpiece ‘Martin,’ the lead character is somewhat unique in a way that the movie transcends different aspects of the genre. The movie crosses over from fantasy into the realm of reality and instead of being a vampire movie it’s a serial killer movie. What if vampires were just human- and needed blood to satisfy some urge?
In Romero’s ‘Martin’ the lead vampire Martin is just that- a human, with the urge for blood. The movie opens with Martin displaying his technique on a train and getting off on an unsuspecting victim. When he arrives at his destination, a man (who turns out to be a relative of his) tells him that he needs to come with him to receive salvation- and once he’s saved, he shall be destroyed… it was one of the coolest lines I’ve ever heard in a movie. So Martin goes with him and you find out that he’s actually in town to stay with his family and that this relative of his knows he’s a “nosferatu”.
This relative has known about the “family curse’ for years and everyone else in the household thinks he’s crazy and out of line. Of course they do, Martin in a normal young man, just a little shy. He vents his frustrations by calling a radio station and telling his story to the DJ, who only mocks him- of course this is all make believe and Martin’s normal right? While at the same time he’s trying to fit in and be inconspicuous and trying to learn how to “be sexy” with a woman without actually killing her. The problem from Martin arises when he loses the lust for picking victims when he has an actual relationship with a woman. He gets shaky and “messy” and his world spins upside down to the semi-anti-climatic conclusion. But it’s an appropriate end for such a down to earth horror film.
Romero has an interesting directing style in ‘Martin.’ When he wants to display a flashback he uses black and white, and when he wants to imply an urge Martin is having he splices scenes from the present with the black and white flashbacks to help us understand his urges.
John Amplas, who plays Martin Madahas, puts on a stunning performance. He truly makes you feel empathetic towards Martin and thus helping us justify his outbursts. This is similar to other serial killer movies is the way that once we relate to the character, we can’t see them as cold blooded murderers. Maybe they aren’t? Should we judge the uncontrollable? We know Martin wants to be helped, otherwise he wouldn’t have moved in with his family in the first place.
Romero toys with us, he plays with our emotions just as Martins emotions are twisted around throughout the film. The structure of the story and the character building is done with intense precision. Romero is a true genius and so is his film ‘Martin,’ which will forever sit with me as one of the best cult classics out there. Thank you Lions Gate for bringing this to DVD!