Cult Film Club: George A Romero's Martin

Sick of the young, sexy vampires from True Blood and Twilight? Then prepare to meet George Romero's Martin...
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Sick of the young, sexy vampires from True Blood and Twilight? Then prepare to meet George Romero's Martin...
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Vampires haven't always been T-shirt-sporting, trainer-wearing types. From the otherworldliness of Nosferatu's Graf Orlok to the sophistication of Christopher Lee's Dracula, the old skool undead had more interest in decadence than hair gel. And then there's George A Romero's Martin, a '70s American teen who claims to be a vampire but could just be a twisted kid with a bizarre outlook on sex.

Romero is rightly regarded as the King of Zombietown. From the groundbreaking Night Of The Living Dead (1968) to 2009's Survival Of The Dead, the writer-producer-director has an impressive obsession with those who, when they aren't shuffling, like nothing more than shovelling down human flesh. Not that Romero is limited to only making zombie movies. His un-undead movies include The Crazies, (a cracking picture about a virus that drives sufferers insane), Knightriders (a bizarre blend of biker culture and Arthurian legend) and Creepshow (an affectionate tribute to EC Horror Comics written by Stephen King).

Although it's technically a supernatural movie, Martin (1977) could well be nothing of the sort. John Amplas is our hero, a teenager obsessed with women but with absolutely no clue how to communicate with them. Although he's convinced he's a vampire, he exhibits no vampiric characteristics. And when it comes to his victims, rather than biting them, he injects them with sedatives then ravishes them.

With this last point, Romero makes obvious what others have implied - that the vampire, what with his obsession with women and bloodletting, is effectively a rapist. Of course, you won't see any such association in adolescent-friendly offerings such as the Twilight saga. It's the darkness of the material that makes Martin so fascinating, that and Amplas's unsettling performance as the kid who wants to do "sexy stuff" but requires a syringe to do so.

Naturally, an evening spent with such an unusual soul doesn't make for conventional entertainment. There's plenty to enjoy about Martin, however. Look out for special effects guru Tom Savini in the role of Arthur. And the magnificent Mr Romero also makes an appearance as the cognac-guzzling Father Howard. The score meanwhile is by Goblin, the Italian prog-rock group who soundtracked Romero's masterpiece Dawn Of The Dead.

As you might already have guessed, Martin isn't for everybody. However, if you consider yourself a real horror fan, your reputation will be tarnished if you don't track down this compelling picture. Just pay heed to Martin's tagline - "See it with someone you trust..."

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