Friday, May 24, 2013

MARTIN (1977) movie review

Martin (1977) d. Romero, George A. (USA)

Romero, having already placed his indelible stamp on the zombie genre in 1968, took on the bloodsuckers nearly a decade later with equally impressive (if not as widely copied) results. Subverting the entire vampire mythology, the erstwhile Pittsburgh writer/director creates a sympathetic portrayal of a troubled teenager named Martin (brilliantly played by John Amplas) who believes himself to be an 88-year-old vampire.

As he is unaffected by the usual garlic and crucifix tropes, and uses razor blades to slash open the wrists of his victims, viewers are never quite sure whether Martin is truly one of the undead or merely psychotic, and Romero keeps us guessing with the insertion of b/w “flashbacks” of the character’s previous exploits.

As Michael Powell did with Peeping Tom nearly 20 years earlier, Martin opens with a jaw-dropping, pre-credits murder sequence to introduce our murderous protagonist, then spends the rest of the picture cultivating our sympathies for him – it’s a risky and outrageous move, and one that pays off in spades. While we recognize the evil that Martin does, the real “monster” is revealed to be his overbearing uncle Lincoln Maazel, the ostensible Van Helsing character, hissing “Nosferatu!” at every turn.

Shamefully underrated and frequently overlooked by the zombie fanboys, Romero considers this to be his finest hour, and is equally notable for being the first collaboration between himself and “Master of Splatter” makeup f/x man Tom Savini, who also has a role in the film (minus his trademark facial hair).

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