Martin (1977)

Martin (1977)

“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
  • Vampires

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

Must See?
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.


  • Important Director


2 thoughts on “Martin (1977)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Solid, unusual George Romero take on vampirism; good film with a strange atmosphere. Not one of his major works so not must see.

  2. Agreed; a must-see – as a unique and compelling take on the vampire ‘saga’.

    I’ve always had a fondness for this film. I first saw it as a midnight movie at the Waverly Theater in NYC, soon after I moved to the city. It was refreshing seeing Romero return to the kind of confidence he had shown in ‘Night of the Living Dead’.

    I’ve seen it a number of times since. Although I don’t think the film is any kind of metaphor (I see it as a straightforward vampire movie with a fresh angle) – it has a metaphorical element in it. Only acting on impulse, Martin seems unsure of himself as a vampire – in the way a lot of young men would feel unsure about their sexual urges (not knowing when or how to act on them; knowing they can’t be totally denied, also knowing they should be controlled).

    [I say that because of the awkward way Martin acts with the female characters. He wants more from women than blood but he seems to think sex is something to be ashamed of – referring to it as “the other… the sexy stuff”. Along those lines, it’s interesting that Martin badgers the male adulterer that he kills: “You weren’t supposed to be there!” In a weird way, it’s almost a self-reproach – as if the man were being killed for doing what Martin himself wanted to do.]

    Romero (who said this was his favorite of his films) went a little further in his view. He saw Martin’s urges as evil ones and claimed that movie monsters are extensions of the evil within all of us. “It’s a permanent part of us, and we’d better try and understand it.” (Wikipedia)

    One of my fave bits is when Martin is speaking with the radio DJ and is debunking many ‘myths’ about vampires that are shown in movies: “I saw a movie once where [the blood-sucking] happened every night. Now that’s crazy!”

    Some time after seeing the film for the first time, I was at lunch with a friend (at one of his favorite local restaurants). One of the waiters looked ‘familiar’. I excused myself from the table and went over and introduced myself… to John Amplas. He was extremely pleasant… along the way explaining that an actor makes no (real) money making a low-budget flick like ‘Martin’… so it was back to waitering he went. … Many years later, I came across Amplas again on facebook – and he remembered that meeting! So now we’re facebook ‘friends’. 😉

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