Sunday, 19 March 2023

Martin (1976)

"Romero's Finest?"

That's a matter for endless debate, obviously, but MARTIN, George A Romero's take on the vampire genre, was the favourite of the director's movies and in terms of quality is certainly up there with the original 'Dead' trilogy that will be what the late film-maker will be remembered for by most. Second Sight are releasing MARTIN on 4K/UHD and Blu-ray as well as a deluxe limited edition box set with plenty of extra goodies.

Is Martin (John Amplas in what should have been a career-making role) the young man he appears to be or the 84 year old vampire he claims to be? Travelling by train from Indianapolis to come and live with his elderly cousin Cuda (Lincoln Maazel) in Pennsylvania he certainly has a taste for blood, even if his only 'fang' is the hypodermic needle he uses to sedate his female victim. 

If Martin is under a delusion Cuda certainly does nothing to help it, calling Martin 'Nosferatu' and waving crucifixes at him at every opportunity. Martin is also warned to stay away from housemate Christina (Christine Forrest) and not to 'take' anyone in the town. Martin gets a job in Cuda's shop, and part of his duties include delivery boy, which is the way he (and we) get to meet some of the community, one of whom causes events to end in tragedy.

I've watched MARTIN many times since its original release and always take something new away from every viewing. This time the bleak locations, well-drawn characters, and sense of cynicism about both vampirism and the religion that is meant to combat it made me feel this is how Pete Walker might have tackled the subject if he had made a British vampire movie. It would also have provided an appropriate satire on the 'Confessions' films that were popular at the time. Indeed, from another angle MARTIN is the flipside of that common porn trope of the period - the delivery boy who encounters a string of unhappy older women and ends up in situations over his head.

Second Sight's 4K transfer is, as one would expect, fabulous, presenting the film in 4:3 aspect ratio. Extras include a whopping four commentaries, two of which are new (by Travis Crawford and Kat Ellinger respectively) and two archival (Romero, Amplas and Tom Savini on one, Romero, Savini, both Rubinsteins and Michael Gornick on the other). Taste the Blood of Martin is a new 69 minute making of 'hosted' by John Amplas, DP Michael Gornick and assistant cameraman Tom Dubensky as they walk around the locations for the film. It also includes interviews with Christine Forrest, Tony Buba and Tom Savini.

Scoring the Shadows is 17 minutes with composer Donald P Rubinstein who discusses his life and career, scoring the film, and how Romero came up with creative ways to sort things out when the music written didn't always match the final footage. Making Martin: A Recounting is 10 minutes of cast and crew ported over from the old Arrow release, and there are nearly five minutes of trailers and TV spots. The limited edition comes with a 108 page book with new essays on the film, a soundtrack CD of the film's score, and five art cards. Finally, the only thing this set does not have that was in previous versions is the Italian WAMPIR version with Goblin score, so you may want to hang onto your Arrow DVD even if you get this.

George A Romero's MARTIN is out from Second Sight on 4KUHD, Blu-ray and Special Limited Edition on 

Monday 27th March 2023

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