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Martin (Blu-Ray Review)

3 min read
Martin Blu-Ray review header

George A. Romero and zombies go together like cheese and wine—but what about vampires? In the forty-one years between Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Survival of the Dead (2009), Romero directed 6 zombie pictures, earning himself the moniker the Godfather of the Dead. As for blood-suckers, he only made one: the startlingly deconstructive postmodern vampire film, (1977). It's also one of his best features.

Whereas Romero's zombie films mostly played things straight, establishing many of the standards for the genre (their hunger for brains, their slow-paced walking, and their origins as the reanimated dead), Martin is anything but traditional. The clue is right there in the title—Martin doesn't carry quite the same gravitas as Dracula, after all. Instead of a cloaked castle dweller, Martin centres on a troubled teenager who believes himself to both be eighty-four-years-old and, more troublingly, a vampire. Whether his bloodlust stems from the supernatural or not is left purposefully ambiguous.

We meet Martin () in 1970s America, as he travels by train to Braddock, Pittsburgh to move in with his elderly cousin, Tateh Cuda (Lincoln Maazel). Barely five minutes in we witness Martin's first attack, as he first breaks into a woman's private cabin, before sedating her and slashing her wrists with a razor. Shot in 16mm and scored by a melancholy and minimal score from composer Donald Rubinstein, it's a distant cry from the opulence of the Count. One suspects Dracula has never faced the horrors of small town America and the maws of mechanised industry.

Martin Blu-Ray review body

Throughout the film, Martin wrestles with his place amongst the vampiric canon, and thereby his place in the world. Cudeh, his ward, is acutely aware of his supposed vampirism, placing crucifixes on the wall and demanding that Martin leave the townsfolk well alone. But though Martin is convinced that he is a vampire, he's simultaneously dismissive of such outdated superstitions, eating whole bulbs of garlic and explaining where the movies got it wrong about vampires to an inquisitive late night radio host. Even his black-and-white fantasy sequences, which play out like old school Universal horrors, never line up with the grim reality of his hunts.

This release features a new 4K restoration supervised by original DP Michael Gornick, and it looks great. The colours are much richer than I've seen on previous editions, and though the image is sharper it still features that iconic grit and grain. Until we get the mythic 3-and-a-half-hour black-and-white cut, this is the best version out there—by a long shot.

Special Features

  • A new Second Sight 4K restoration supervised and approved by Director of Photography Michael Gornick
    UHD presented in HDR10+
  • Audio commentary by , John Amplas and Tom Savini
  • Audio commentary by George A Romero, Richard P Rubinstein, Tom Savini, Michael Gornick and Donald Rubinstein
  • A new audio commentary by Kat Ellinger
  • A new audio commentary by Travis Crawford
  • Taste the Blood of Martin: A new feature length documentary including location tour
  • Scoring the Shadows: A new interview with composer Donald Rubinstein
  • ‘J Roy – New And Used Furniture': a short film by Tony Buba
  • Making Martin: A Recounting
  • Trailer, TV and radio spots

Limited Edition Contents

  • Rigid slipcase with original classic artwork
  • Soft cover book with new essays by Daniel Bird, Miranda Corcoran, Travis Crawford, Heather Drain, Kat Ellinger, Andrew Graves, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Elena Lazic, , Stephen Thrower, Jon Towlson, Simon Ward and Tony Williams
  • Original Soundtrack CD by Donald Rubinstein
  • 5 collectors' character art cards illustrated by Adam Stothard

The Second Sight edition of Martin arrives in the UK on 4K and standard on March 27th.