July 7, 1978
George A. Romero
George A. Romero
John Amplas as Martin Madahas
Lincoln Maazel as Tada Cuda
Christine Forrest as Christina
Elyane Nadeau as Mrs. Santini
Tom Savini as Arthur
Martin (John Amplas)is a troubled lad. On the train trip to Pittsburgh he scopes out a lovely young woman traveling alone and studies her routine. While she is in the dining car he investigates her cabin for personal effects and a hint to what makes her tick. After the investigation is complete he is apparently satisfied that she is “the one” and loads a syringe with a clear liquid before creeping into her cabin while she is in the restroom applying her beauty mask.
Long story short, he subdues the woman, rapes her, kills her and drinks her blood. He is, you see, is a vampire. At least we think he’s a vampire. The eccentric Uncle that meets the lad at the train station (Lincoln Maazel) believes he is a vampire. Martin has flashbacks of an ancient time when he was chased by an angry mob with torches for being a vampire. So, he must be a vampire, right? Then again, he may just be a sick serial killer whose fantasies of vampirism are enabled by his family. It’s really hard to say.
Is he a vampire, isn’t he a vampire is part of the point of this early film by George A. Romero. What if a “real” vampire has nothing to do with bats, crosses, garlic and chic black capes? What if the whole “sunlight thing” is just fantasy and vampires are merely immortal beings that need blood to survive, with no special powers at all? Then again, what if there is no such thing as a vampire at all and severely imbalanced and murderous behavior is just that, and any fantasies of being an immortal night-stalker have no more basis in reality than an unrequited love for Jodie Foster or Nikes and Kool-Aid in preparation for Hale-Bop aliens?
Romero shows his developing skill at creating an intricate tale with little budget or real action on the screen with Martin. This film was completed in 1977, nine years after Night of the Living Deadand one year before Dawn of the Dead and brings attention to the fact that although Romero is best known and loved for his treatment of zombies, that particular sub-genre of horror comprises less than half of Romero’s total cinematic efforts. Of these “non-zombie” offerings some were well reviewed and others mixed, but the zombies always seem to rear their ugly heads eventually. Martin falls among the better-received non-zombie Romero horror works and was reportedly filmed on a miniscule $80k budget.
The performance by John Amplas as Martin is the glue that holds the film together. Serial killer or vampire, our “hero” is a likeable guy that it is easy to root for whether he is stalking his victims or discussing the difficulties of modern vampirism on talk radio.
This is not the film for gore-hounds or those that are easily bored by older low budget and relatively slow-moving films. Watch this one to see how a master tells a story and as insight to the developing craft of the king of the modern Zombie.