The Sunday Cult Film Corner: “Martin (1977)”

21 Jul



OK, things have been thrown a lot out of kilter on this blog for a while now. Things that were nice little regular pieces have been laid by the wayside while the amount of subjects/features/reviews that have been residing in my mental “in-box” have grown exponentially for a while now. 

This has left the SCFC post little more than a this dark, wet, fetid part of this blog. the place is now metaphorically overrun with rats and weeds. And possibly the odd dead homeless person.

But now the time of fallow has come to an end, as I clean up the place with some weedkiller, lime and a big bunch of fire. And for the resumption of the SUNDAY CULT FILM CORNER, we have a classic low-budget contemporary horror thriller that looks to blow open the myth and presumptions about that classic monster, the vampire. Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you MARTIN.

Directed in 1997 by master horror director George A. Romero, the film stars John Amplas as a young man with the name of the film. Martin is a disturbed man who has an insatiable thirst for blood and seeks to drug and kill people to feed his thirst, while also creating an illusory black and white world that runs parallel to the real world around him. After the death of his immediate family he goes to live with his ultra religious great-uncle, who believes him to be an old world vampire, calling him “Nosferatu.” He warns him not to speak to his cousin Christine, and arms himself with the old tools to ward off vampires (Garlic, Crosses).

While he works at his Great-uncle’s butcher shop, he strikes up a friend ship with a bored housewife, Mrs. Santini, who takes an interest in the man. But can he keep control of his murderious urges, or will his life end in turmoil?

Despite the obvious low-end effects and feel of the film, Romero has made a very different and unique take on the vampire flick. Unlike most vampire movies, For a start, it is never explained outright whether or not Martin is actually a vampire. It´s left to the viewer to decide. On top of this, Martin doesn’t fit into any of the perceived tropes of what a vampire should be. Martin is awkward, has no friends, and socially stunted. He exudes very little in terms of sexual or animal magnetism. Let’s just say he most certainly doesn’t sparkle. Also none of the old rules of vampirism exist here.

Romero also looks to take on the myths of vampirism, which is especially laid out bare in the opening scene of the movie, where Martin rinks the blood of a woman on the train It´s the absolute antithesis of the sexy, arrogant vamp seducing a woman with their eyes and compelling her to willingly give up her blood to him. Instead, Romero instead forces us to see the reality Martin taking someone’s blood by force. it is not sexy or dramatic, as in effect, Martin is no more than a serial killer and rapist, whose actions still leave him frustrated and ultimately unfulfilled with death in his wake.

And yet Martin is still a sympathetic character when in comparison to his brutal religious intolerance of his Great-uncle, who treats Martin no better than an animal. you feel that Martin can be redeemed fi he was able to find a way to cure himself of his blood lust.

Despite the low-budget, Martin is a film that overcomes these restraints with some decent acting from Amplas especially as Martin. there is also some wonderfully deft editing from Romero himself, splicing the colour scenes of the modern-day with the black & White “flashbacks” from the beginning of the last century that informs Martin’s daydream world effortlessly. The film also makes good use of  the town  where the film is based. It gives the atmosphere a gritty, yet a faded, nondescript feel. there is a distinct lack of Gothic grandeur with “Martin” and this gives it a sense of contemporary realness.

“Martin” is an intriguing addition to the horror canon that transplants the idea of the mythical horror character of the vampire and transposing him into the real life world of ’70s working class America. It´s definitely a far better story that and of the Twilight films, that’s for sure.!

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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Film


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