#13 - 9 Votes
While George A. Romero is rightly celebrated for his iconic zombie movies and the influence they've had on the subgenre, an unfortunate result is that his non-zombie movies tend to be a bit overlooked. One of those is Martin, which he made just before Dawn of the Dead. The movie is anchored by John Amplas' peculiarly effective performance as the title character, a young man who believes himself to be a vampire. The twist is that there's no physical evidence that Martin is a supernatural being - he can go out during the day, isn't repelled by garlic or crucifixes and, without any fangs, relies on razorblades to bleed his (usually attractive female) victims. It's an unusually character-driven horror movie, as we follow Martin as he stalks his victims, gets involved in a sort of romance, confesses his crimes to a local talk radio show and, ultimately, is hunted by his elderly uncle, who shares his nephew's belief in vampires.
I had an opportunity, at a Q&A a few years ago, to ask Romero about the movie (if you ever have the chance to meet Romero, he loves being asked about his movies that don't have Dead in the title). I'll never forget when Romero said that "I never saw Martin as a vampire. I thought he was just a fucked-up kid." This sums up the movie's uniquely chilly atmosphere - it's an fascinatingly subtle counterpoint to the garish splatter he's better known for, with the dilapidated Pittsburgh locations contributing greatly to the film's sense of dread. And the makeup effects by Tom Savini, while not as gory as much of his later work, still have the ability to make me wince.
U.S. Release Date: July 7, 1978