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4.3 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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(Jun 06, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Martin (John Amplas) is a modern sort of vampire--he gains his victims' cooperation with the use of a hypodermic needle instead of hypnotism, and uses razors in the place of fangs. "There's no real magic," he says. "There's no real magic, ever." He says this to his elderly Romanian cousin, Tati Cuda (Lincoln Maazel), a true believer in the old religion, and self-appointed keeper of Martin, who threatens to do away with the boy if the vampirism doesn't stop. According to Cuda, the boy is actually 85 years old--young for a vampire. Truly, the supernatural element of the film is always at odds with psychological explanations that make Martin out to be a sexually disturbed teen, not an ancient bloodsucker. Martin's vampiric episodes are intercut with sepia footage of similar exploits from some gothic era, which may either be Martin's memories or his imagination; take your pick. Garlic, sunlight, mirrors--these are devices of Hollywood, and have no effect on a hypo-toting vampire like Martin, as he explains the rules in his role of frequent call-in guest on a radio talk show where he's known as "The Count." These ambiguities are left teasingly unresolved by the film, which is more interested in establishing the relationship between the traditional vampire and the modern-day psycho. Along with the film's narrative economy, these ambiguities make Martin Romero's midnight-movie masterpiece.

At the very end Romero borrows an image from Carl Theodore Dreyer's classic silent film Ordet, ratifying a moment of religious ritual. Knowing this as you watch the film only deepens the chill. --Jim Gay

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Amplas, Lincoln Maazel, Christine Forrest, Elyane Nadeau, Tom Savini
  • Directors: George A. Romero
  • Writers: George A. Romero
  • Producers: Ben Barenholtz, Patricia Bernesser, Ray Schmaus, Richard P. Rubinstein
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: June 6, 2000
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305808090
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,469 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Martin" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
"Heir to the Blood Lust"

Horror master George Romero's 1976 film MARTIN is one of those studies in ambiguity where the edges of reality get pretty fuzzy. John Amplas delivers an engaging and affecting performance as the titular character, a young man who believes himself to be the victim of a family curse in which one member is every so often born as Nosferatu (i.e., a vampire). Romero's script, however, abandons traditional vampire lore--Martin isn't bothered too much by sunlight or Christian crosses, he eats garlic, and instead of fangs, he uses razor blades to access the precious crimson fluid of his victims. So is Martin actually a vampire, or just a severely disturbed young man? What, really, is the distinction? After all, he IS killing people and he IS drinking his victims' blood--so what if he doesn't have fangs? And his elderly cousin, steeped in the ways of the old country, definitely believes, and HE is determined to save Martin's soul or else destroy him.

Films like this don't come along too often, and they rarely come out of Hollywood. Produced a few years before DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978), the first sequel to his magnum opus NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), MARTIN is one of Romero's more thoughtful and thought-provoking works. Characters stripped of cinematic romanticism, gritty on-location shooting in Pennsylvania suburbs, and brilliant use of grainy black-and-white footage for flashback sequences--actually, are they flashbacks, or has Martin blurred reality with sequences from his favorite films?--help to create a moving and realistic portrait of a young man who, in spite of his murderous habit, is both sympathetic and genuine.

The influence of this film on later indie filmmakers is obvious, most notably on the relative newbie Larry Fessenden.
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Format: DVD
Martin seems to be by far the most praised film directed by George Romero outside of his zombie films, but I never was all that excited about seeing it. As much as I like the Dead trilogy, the whole setup for this film just didn't sound all that exciting. However, I recently got around to viewing Two Evil Eyes and The Crazies, both of which surpassed my expectations. So I finally got around to seeing Martin, and it surpassed my expectations as well. I would dare say this film is pretty much on the same level as Night and Dawn,(though it is obviously very different from either of those films. which already aren't like each other at all) and is certainly mandatory viewing for anyone seriously interested in Horror films.

The titular Martin is a 17 year old living in modern America (well, the 70's anyway) who believes himself to be an 84 year old vampire. He's just crazy, naturally, and doesn't have any apparent physical powers or the vulnerabilities associated with vampires. He just kills people, has sex with them and drinks their blood and whatnot. Despite being very low-budget(I think Romero said it was about a quarter million) the performances are quite strong, most notably John Amplas as Martin, who is pretty much perfect. Well, his delivery of the lines occasionally leaves a bit to be desired, but his whole look and his body language are absolutely perfect. They couldn't conceivably cast someone better than him for the role, even w/o their budget and resource constraints. Martin is nicely characterized as well, as Romero doesn't try to hard to make us like him, and doesn't excuse what he does.
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Format: VHS Tape
George A. Romero's "Martin" is a nearly perfect film. While firmly rooted in the postmodern, "Martin" also gives the attentive viewer a good idea of how vampire myths may have originated; with the hysterical superstitions of old Europe trying to come to grips with a serial murderer like the eponymous Martin, played convincingly and sympathetically by John Amplas. Filmed in an economically depressed steel town in Pennsylvania, this film echoes "Nosferatu" (1922) in its depiction of a moribund city devoid of youth and life. Shot in 16mm, "Martin" is strangely beautiful, and a perfect visual documentation of the mid-1970s. Amplas makes one of the most memorable vampire protagonists in the history of film. Even in a tight yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, and tennis shoes, he exhibits as much sinister grace as Christopher Lee, Delphine Seyrig, or Max Schreck. "Martin" is easily one of the best and most strangely moving vampire films of all time.
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Format: DVD
'Martin' begins with a sequence one might more readily associate with the overwrought films of Dario Argento, but filmed with the dispassionate intensity of a Robert Bresson. We see a gentle, shy young man boarding a train headed for Pittsburgh, eyeing a pretty young woman. Because this is a horror movie, we assume he is a serial rapist or killer, and his precise use of tools - an anaesthetic so that he can violate his unconscious victims - furthers the suspicion, as do the usual screams, tussles and shredding of clothes. But there are three breaks from the exploitative norm in this sequence. First is the unsettling meekness of the attacker: far from being shadowy, violent and menacing, he tries to genuinely soothe his victim. Secondly is that Bressonian style I mentioned - no camera movement; the dynamics of the action proceeding by clean, propulsive, interlocking editing that emphasises objects and the hands making ritual use of them. The style distances the exploitative content, and suggests a meaning or purpose beyond the generic norm. Thirdly, Martin is not a rapist or psychopathic killer, but a vampire - the moment his fellow passenger zonks out, he slits open her arms and gorges.
Martin is being sent to his granduncle, an elderly Catholic shopowner who lives with his granddaughter, and who intends to save Martin's soul before destroying him, as if the boy were a drug-addict undergoing cold turkey. As he did with his classic zombie films, Romero takes a horror myth long made ridiculous by parody and camp, and firmly fixes it in the contemporary world, through which prism is presented a satiric view of modern captalism, consumerism, the media, gender, racial and class politics, work, families, a culture of confession etc.
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