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Askew Review 15

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MARTIN (Anchor Bay) DVD 1977. 94 minutes. Rated R, violence, nudity. Written and directed by George Romero. To the naked eye, Martin appears to be your average dorky looking guy around the age of twenty. However, Martin is actually 84 years old and has a sickness. While on a train to Pittsburgh, Martin drugs a woman and eventually slices her arm open with a razor blade to drink her blood. After nicely cleaning up the crime scene, Martin arrives at the train station where he is rudely greeted by Cuda, an old family member who resembles an over weight Colonel Sanders. Upon entering Cuda’s house, Martin realizes that he has to conform to strict rules and, even though he has zero vampire powers, is treated as a “Nosferatu.” Feeling like an outsider, Martin tries to explain to Cuda that he has a sickness and needs help, not Cuda’s salvation. As Martin tries his hardest to fit in with society, he befriends a lonely and depressed housewife and starts to feel good about himself. However, Martin still has a burning hunger for blood and must satisfy his needs.
     This movie has always caused conflict between it’s fans because nobody knows if Martin is really a vampire or not. Martin actually comes across as a social outcast drug addict who is more confused over his identity than Michael Jackson. Since Martin has no super vampire powers, he has to hunt down his victims and drug them before he is able to kill them. He also takes care of his victims and doesn’t want them to be in any pain. This movie has long stretches of silence as we kind of fall into Martin’s world of confusion, despair, and loneliness. There are memory/hallucinations like scenes shot in black and white that makes the conflict in this movie all the harder to grasp. There are a few scenes of violence and slight gore, but nothing that will make you sick. The nudity is brief, but it’s there and further proves my theory that women of the 1970s never heard of keeping things trimmed. The ending has an Alfred Hitchcock type twist that will leave you shaking your head. Make-up/ special effects legend Tom Savini co-stars and also handles the make-up duties. The video and sound are crystal clear and vibrant, but there is nothing really all that spectacular to see or hear. The audio commentary with Romero, Savini, and John Amplas is both humorous and informative. The trio often discusses the shooting locations that may be found very interesting to people from in and around Pittsburgh. There are a number of goof ups that will have you continuity maniacs screaming bloody murder. If you watch Martin, do not expect a blood and guts, tear ‘em up vampire romp. Expect a solemnly paced tale of isolation. I liked this movie when I first saw it 15 years ago, and I like it even more now because I understand more. – Denis Sheehan


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