Martin George A. Romero

Considering most ideas are blatantly stolen from the work of Bram Stoker, it's safe to proclaim that Martin is arguably only second to Stoker's Dracula as far as original and compelling vampire tales are concerned. George A. Romero's admitted favourite film of his brilliant career, Martin is a dark, often complex and deeply disturbing glimpse of a young man who believes he is an 84-year-old vampire. Right from the start, Romero exposes Martin (John Amplas) for what he really is: a cowardly, troubled 20-something who's been seduced by the sexual and sensual nature of bloodsucking after seeing one too many Hammer flicks starring Christopher Lee. The story follows the main character to Pittsburgh, where he goes to live with his aged cousin, Tada Cuda (Lincoln Maazel), a devoutly religious man who believes the vampire wannabe is truly Nosferatu incarnate. However, because Martin is simply human, he must resort to desperate measures in order to fulfil his bloodlust: sneaking out late at night, breaking into homes, drugging and raping his victim, and then slicing them with a razor blade to get his fix. Romero's subject matter is most unsettling and was originally threatened with an X rating if he didn't tame down some of the scenes. His interlacing of black and white flashbacks, believed to be Martin's life at the turn of the century, are offsetting but wildly imaginative and necessary to puzzle the viewer as to what this character's true story is. The film is a remarkable accomplishment, considering only a cast and crew of 15 people made it. The low-budget appearance gives it a stronger sense of realism, while the setting of a broken down industrial city and the creepy, ethereal score add an overwhelming feeling of fear. Unfortunately the original cut of the film is not included, which is disappointing but understandable, since apparently Romero hasn't a clue as to where it is. Thankfully though, the extras have been beefed up in comparison to the film's original DVD release four years ago. A new commentary from Romero, make-up artist and actor Tom Savini, and the producer, scorer and D.O.P. is featured, however it wanders a lot between acting as a reunion of long lost friends and a tool in trying to remember what happened. "Making Martin" gives more insight into key points, like just how small the production team was, where some of the ideas came from and how Savini created his illusions. All in all, a satisfying release of a truly creepy and authentic horror film. (Lion's Gate)