Martin (1976)

MARTIN (1976)
Article 3983 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-18-2012
Directed by George A. Romero
Featuring John Amplas, Lincoln Maazel, Christine Forrest
Country: USA
What it is: A vampire movie…or a serial killer movie?

A young man who believes he is a vampire but disdains all the magical paraphernalia associated with the affliction moves in with an elderly cousin who is aware of the vampirism.

I went into this one expecting a serial killer who thinks he’s a vampire, which, in itself, isn’t necessarily a great or original concept. However, this movie is too clever to be fall into the cliches and traps of either vampire or serial killer movies, at least partially because it remains ambiguous about the true nature of the title character; is he deluded or is he an eighty-four year old vampire? That he lives in something of a fantasy world is no doubt (he imagines that his victims desire his embrace), but could the black-and-white sequences include memories as well as illusions? It’s the way that the movie manages to be both a character study while playing with the cliches of both the vampire and serial killer movies that make it unexpectedly rich. I like that the fact that the only person he seems to open up to is a late-night talk show host who sees him as an opportunity to increase the ratings of his show. And I also like the myriad ironies of the end of the movie, an ending that is both inevitable and unexpected. Romero himself plays a small role as a priest, and Tom Savini plays the boyfriend of the old man’s granddaughter. This is a clever, fascinating movie.

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