MARTIN (1976) Reviews and 4K and Blu-ray special edition release news

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Martin, George A. Romero’s dark and quirky ’70s take on vampirism will be issued as both a 4K Ultra-HD and Blu-ray limited edition special edition release, it has been confirmed by UK-based Second Sight Films.

Meanwhile, here’s our previous coverage of Martin:


‘He could be the boy next door…’

Martin is a 1976 American horror film about a young man who commits murders as he believes himself to be a vampire.

Written and directed by George A. Romero (Two Evil Eyes; Dead franchise; The Crazies).

Martin 1976 George Romero title

Romero has claimed that it’s the favourite film he has made and over the years it has grown in stature amongst both fans and critics to become one of his most respected works.


The film tells of a young man, Martin (played by John Amplas, also in John Russo’s Midnight), who travels by train from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh to stay with his closest living relative, his deeply religious and suspicious Grand-Uncle, Tateh Cuda (Lincoln Maazel, who never acted again but did live to the ripe old age of 106). Whilst on the train Martin attacks a female passenger and after drugging her, drinks her blood with the aid of a razor blade.

Through a series of dream-like imagery, there is the implication that Martin is a real vampire, though his methods of attack are rather more unconventional than standard vampire films. Cuda is duty-bound to take Martin into his home but treats him with disdain as he recognises him as an 84-year-old vampire from ‘the old country’ and uses far more traditional methods to protect himself and his family – in particular his grand-daughter, played by Romero’s wife, Christine Forrest – from strings of garlic to religious icons, all of which apparently have no effect.

Martin continues to terrorise locals and strikes up an affair with a local woman, during which period it becomes increasingly difficult for him (and us) to separate fact from fiction as his status as ‘the undead’ wrestles with the fact that this could simply be a confused, angry, alienated youth. The film reaches a climax as the old and new worlds collide and Martin and Cuda have one final meeting…


Made on a tiny budget of $80,000 to $100,000 (according to different sources) and filmed entirely in Romero‘s hometown of Pittsburgh, Martin has some of the best-written characters in any of his productions and though the blood flows relatively freely, relies far more on story-line for shocks and drama than many of his better-known films.


Budgetary constraints meant Romero cast many of his friends and family in the film; as well as his future wife, there are also appearances by Tom Savini (his first film with George as effects man and he also did some of the stunt work and appears as Christine’s boyfriend), sound engineer Tony Buba, future director of Creepshow 2, Michael Gornick, producer Richard Rubinstein and George himself as a priest, amongst others.

Lead actor John Amplas can consider himself unlucky that the film did not lead to more significant work in the future, his performance is powerful and enigmatic, despite it being his first screen role. He went on to have brief roles in Romero‘s Dawn of the Dead and Creepshow and slightly longer parts in Knightriders and Day of the Dead.


Although Romero claims that the final film is the closest realised work to what he envisioned, the film was apparently originally 2 hours 45 minutes long. Much of this, was filmed in black and white. This version is considered lost, damaged beyond repair in a flood at Romero’s production offices.


The highly regarded jazz score is composed by Donald Rubinstein, brother of the film’s producer. It has since been given an official CD release. In Italy, the film was re-scored by the Italian band, Goblin, the end result being reminiscent of their work on Dawn of the Dead.

Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA




Other reviews:

“The movie is a sad, eerie excursion into dead-end teenage isolation. Martin, both the movie and the character alike, detail what can happen when an adolescent succumbs to real darkness and horror.” Mike “McBeardo” McFadden, Heavy Metal Movies

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“The depression-era Pittsburgh setting and a brooding atmosphere help keep Martin afloat. The whole effort is also enhanced by an open-ended storyline. We never do find out if this “vampire” is truly one, or if it’s all in poor Martin’s head […] Bleak and downtrodden, this might be too downbeat for some tastes.” The Terror Trap

Martin is a dark and grim (and yet, at times, darkly humorous) portrait of two people living under a shared delusion […] Amplas and Maazel both give excellent performances and Romero captures a tragic sort of beauty to Braddock’s decay. Martin may be one of Romero’s less known films but it’s also one of his best.” Lisa Marie Bowman, Through the Shattered Lens

“Much of the film’s power stems from its unfashionable ideas about teenage wish-fulfilment and how young people respond to images of horror – Martin desperately wants to believe that he’s more than just another messed-up kid, his inner life depicted in a series of grandiose, hauntingly beautiful monochrome tableaux. As he did in his ‘Living Dead’ movies, Romero keeps the horror grounded in nasty, messy reality: this is also a film about American poverty and its unexpected consequences.” Time Out

“A neglected winner from Romero (Night of the Living Dead), it contains some exciting and suspenseful sequences, while never losing its wry sense of humor.” Videohound’s Complete Guide to Cult Flicks and Trash Pics

Cast and characters:

John Amplas … Martin
Lincoln Maazel … Cuda
Christine Forrest … Christina
Elyane Nadeau … Mrs. Santini
Tom Savini … Arthur
Sara Venable … Housewife Victim
Francine Middleton … Train Victim (as Fran Middleton)
Roger Caine … Lewis (as Al Levitsky)
George A. Romero … Father Howard
James Roy … Deacon
J. Clifford Forrest Jr. … Father Zulemas
Robert Ogden … Businessman
Donaldo Soviero … Priest (segment “Flashback”)
Donna Siegel … Woman (as Donna Siegal)
Albert J. Schmaus … Family

Filming locations:

The Pittsburgh suburb of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Filmed during the summer of 1976.

Technical details:

95 minutes
Colour | Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.37: 1
Audio: Mono


Martin was screened at the Cannes film market in May 1977 in order to secure a distributor. Libra Films International purchased distribution rights to the picture, initially giving it a limited release in the United States on May 10, 1978, around the Washington, D.C. area.

Similar to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, Martin was edited for the European market by Dario Argento and released in 1978 under the title of Wampyr.

In the UK, Martin was awarded an ‘X’ certificate by censorship body the BBFC on 1st February 1979 and distributed by Miracle Films.


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