Martin (1978 film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Martin is a 1978 American horror film written and directed by George A. Romero.

Romero claimed that Martin is the favorite of all his films. The film is also notable as the first collaboration between George Romero and special effects artist Tom Savini. While not prosecuted for obscenity, the film was seized and confiscated in the UK under Section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 during the video nasty panic.


As the film opens, a young man (John Amplas), travelling on an overnight train from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, sedates a young woman with a syringe full of narcotics, slices her wrist with a razor blade, and drinks her blood. The next morning, he is met at the Pittsburgh train station by a mysterious man in white (Lincoln Maazel) who escorts him away, whereupon the pair board a local train destined for Braddock, Pennsylvania. The young man, named Martin, has romantic monochrome visions of vampiric seductions and torch-lit mobs, but it is impossible to tell if these visions are real or imagined. The man in white is Martin's elderly granduncle, Tateh Cuda. Due to the death of Martin's immediate family in Indianapolis, Cuda has reluctantly agreed to give Martin room and board, sharing the house with him and cousin Christine.

Cuda is a Lithuanian Catholic who treats Martin like an Old World vampire. He forbids his nephew from speaking to Christine and tries unsuccessfully to repel him with traditional methods: strings of garlic and holy objects like a crucifix and blessed statues. Martin mocks these attempts and says bitterly, "There's no real magic... ever." Martin also says forcefully to Cuda that he is a family member, not someone to be treated like a "Nosferatu". Cuda warns that if Martin murders anyone in Braddock, he will stake him through the heart. While making deliveries for Cuda's butcher shop, Martin meets several local women, most distinctly the lonely housewife Mrs. Santini. He runs from her attempts at seducing him but, curious, later returns to her. He seeks advice on women from a radio disc jockey, who calls him "the Count", and Martin tries to set the record straight about vampires, saying there is no "magic stuff." The DJ realizes his listeners consider Martin a hit.

Eventually overpowered by his thirst, Martin sneaks out to Pittsburgh and targets a woman he sees at a local market. Believing her to be alone while her husband is on business, he breaks into her house only to discover her in bed with a lover. Martin feeds on the man, then drugs and rapes the woman. Back in Braddock, Martin eventually gives in to what he calls the "sexy stuff" and begins a full-fledged affair with Mrs. Santini, losing interest in other women as victims to feed his hunger. Christine, frustrated by her disagreements with Cuda as well as her unhappy relationship with her boyfriend (played by make-up artist Tom Savini), moves out of the house. On a feeding binge in the city, in which Martin targets two derelicts for the first time, he narrowly escapes the police. Safely back at home, he visits Mrs. Santini only to find that she has committed suicide. Cuda, believing Martin to be the culprit, stakes him through the heart and buries him in the backyard.

As the credits roll, radio callers can be heard asking what has happened to "the Count." The final shot shows Tateh Cuda in his garden, placing a crucifix on Martin's fresh grave.

See also

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