Indie horror maestro George A. Romero takes a low-key approach in this meditative, nontraditional addition to vampire lore, before reaching a genuinely shocking conclusion.
John Amplas is the sympathetic, sexually dysfunctional Martin, who may or may not be an 84-year-old bloodsucker stuck in permanent pubescence. However, in Romero's world, none of the usual vampire trappings are real -- Martin doesn't even have fangs. Instead, Martin subdues his young female victims with a hypodermic needle, then has sex with them while cutting them and draining their blood.
There are some suspenseful sequences, although the majority of the film centers on Martin's brooding over his sexuality and the religious mania of his elderly cousin who wants to "cure" him. The film's sole weak spot is the poor performances by the still-unknown cast (except for long-time Romero collaborator Tom Savini, who has a small supporting role and created the makeup effects.)
"Martin" is very much a product of its time, focusing on thought-provoking themes of sex, religion and identity rather thrills, jolts or gore. These strengths are the strengths of the best 1970s films. The film is also one of the high points of Romero's body of work, although it is largely forgotten today in favor of his zombie series.
"First I will save your soul. Then I will destroy you!"
Amplas is a Romero regular, appearing in five of the director's films, as well as serving as casting director for "Dawn of the Dead" (1978).
"Nadja" (1994) and "The Addiction" (1995).
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