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MARTIN (1977)

Directed by George Romero

Starring Starring John Amplas and Lincoln Maazel

This extremely influential vampire film isn't fast-paced and funny enough for most modern tastes, but those of us that appreciate the work of the great Romero should be more than satisfied.

The film opens with a young man attacking a woman in a train car with a hypodermic needle. After she passes out, he disrobes her, slits her wrists and drinks her blood.

Like much of what appears in "Martin," the scene is especially well directed and tautly edited, highlighting a filmmaking style of Romero's that has only been seen in his low-budget films. Some of his later movies ("Dark Half," "Monkey Shines") look and feel like they could have been directed by anyone. That isn't the case with "Martin," which is vintage Romero through and through.

Amplas plays the Pennsylvania teen Martin, living in a depressed steel town who falls deep into a fantasy world of vampirism, attacking local women with razor blades and drinking their blood. Like the funnier "Vampire's Kiss," "Martin" is about loneliness and isolation and how it can drive people to the dark side.

His uncle (Maazel) eventually takes it upon himself to do battle with this modern-day bloodsucker the old-fashioned way: garlic, crosses and a wooden stake. He calls the boy "Nosferatu." The effects by Tom Savini were the first to fully realize the make-up artist's talents at creating gore.

Highly recommended. Romero himself has called this the favorite of his movies and "Blade 2" and "Kronos" director Guillermo del Toro has called this the greatest vampire film ever made. An amazing movie, "Martin" harks back to any era when horror films were gritty, realistic and genuinely terrifying. Nobody (not even Romero himself) makes 'em like this anymore.

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