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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Martin (1977)
(2023 4K Restoration)


Starring: John Amplas, Lincoln Maazel, Christine Forrest and Elyane Nadeau
Distributor: Second Sight Films


Certificate: 18
Release Date: 27 March 2023

Second Sight Films releases horror legend director George A. Romero’s vampire-with-a-difference film from 1977, Martin. It arrives remastered in three separate presentations. In the Limited Edition Box Set, you will find a 4K restoration version, a Blu-ray format, a 108-page book incorporating several new essays, a rigid slipcase with the classic artwork, a CD of the original soundtrack by Donald Rubinstein, and 5 collectors’ art cards illustrated by Adam Stothard. There is a standard edition release of the 4K disc, and there is a separate standard edition Blu-ray release. Each format contains all the extra features, which include: 4 x individual audio commentaries with Romero, actor/make-up artist Tom Savini, John (Martin) Amplas and others; Taste the Blood of Martin – a new feature-length documentary and location tour; Scoring the Shadows – a new interview with composer Donald Rubinstein; J Roy – New and Used Furniture, a short film by Tony Buba; Making Martin – A Recounting; and various trailers, TV and radio spots...

Martin – who believes he is an 84 year old vampire - is a young (at least in terms of appearance!) adult man who is sent to a Pennsylvania town to live with his elderly cousin, Cuda. The old man believes the bloodline is tainted and periodically produces an evil abomination. He is like a more modern-day religious Van Helsing, who calls his young charge Nosferatu and puts bells above the door to Martin’s room as a warning to his prospective night time exit (not very reliable when the young guy just slides open the window). Also in the house is Christina (played by Romero’s wife Christine Forrest) who thinks this is all nonsense. Martin does some odd jobs around the community, culminating in his obsession with lonely housewife Abbie Santini, and a return-to bloodlust. But is he really a vampire?

Considering this was John Amplas’s debut screen role, he’s very good in the part, which is played with a certain ambiguity. Martin appears shy, demur and unassuming. But essentially distant. He’s seen by others as strange but harmless. The death scene on the train to Pennsylvania initially misleads the viewer into thinking he is a sexual predator killer, when in reality it is the closeness he longs for – along with the blood, of course. We learn more about the character when he begins phoning-in to a radio show as The Count and talking about his feelings and actions, without being too specific. We also discover that, although the host attempts to keep it light-hearted, the show becomes popular with listeners. He sucks blood, yes, but normally just cuts down an arm and drinks from there. He dispels the stereotypical myth of the vampire of literature and film, even going so far as to almost give the old man a heart attack by jumping out at him in the dark adorned with cloak and fangs and then laughing at him.

This film is so different, so intriguing. We don’t even know the truth of it at the end – even though there is a solid conclusion. Martin could be seen to have a serious psychological disorder – it’s certainly a psychological thriller – but we’ll never know the truth for a fact, and that is only a small part of what makes this movie work so well. Perhaps it’s the bridging of genres too. Of course, George A. Romero was mostly well-known for his zombie horrors (which began with the classic Night of the Living Dead); however, he also directed a number of weird films, not all of which worked. But Martin is different, in many senses of the word, and is certainly worth checking out. As I didn’t receive the box set or the 4K versions, my assessment is based on my enjoyment of the Blu-ray – the picture of which is very good.


Ty Power

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