“Things only seem to be magic; there is no real magic, ever.”
When a young man (John Amplas) who’s convinced he’s a vampire goes to live with his great-uncle (Lincoln Maazel) — who refers to Martin (Amplas) as “Nosferatu” — and cousin (Christine Forrest), he continues to carry out his carefully plotted blood-attacks, including invading the home of a woman (Sara Venable) having a liaison with her lover (Al Levitsky), and a lonely housewife (Elyane Nadeau) eager to start an affair with Martin.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- George Romero Films
- Horror Films
George Romero’s fifth feature-length film — after debuting with Night of the Living Dead (1968), then making There’s Always Vanilla (1971) [not listed in Peary’s GFTFF], Jack’s Wife / Season of the Witch (1972), and The Crazies / Code Name: Trixie (1973) — was this psychological horror film focusing on the logistics of vampirism (are they really repelled by garlic and crosses?), and questioning whether the “lust for blood” is actually all in the vampire’s mind (or truly a curse). Amplas makes a surprisingly compelling and sympathetic lead, convincingly portraying someone simultaneously young and “virginal”, and a decades-old misfit who has figured out what he believes to be the least invasive way to satisfy his needs (by quickly sedating his victims before attacking them).
Through atmospheric black-and-white flashbacks, we get glimpses of Martin’s desire for romance and intimacy — along with the inevitable bloodshed that ensues.
The scene in which Martin invades the home of a housewife (Venable) — assuming he’s “safe” to seduce her since he’s just watched her husband drive away for a trip, then finding out there’s a man in the house after all — is expertly directed, showing off Martin’s agility and quickness-of-mind. Only once Martin decides he wants to try to live a more “human” life do his faculties begin to fail him. While it’s far from perfect and occasionally clunky, enough works about this low-budget thriller (purportedly Romero’s personal favorite) to recommend it for one-time viewing by all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- John Amplas as Martin
- Good use of Pittsburgh location shooting
- Creative direction
- Donald Rubinstein’s highly evocative score
Yes, once, as a most unusual vampire flick. Listed as a Cult Movie, a Personal Recommendation, and a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book, and discussed at length in Peary’s Cult Movies 3 book.