We meet Martin on a night train on his way to Pennsylvania to see his uncle. After dark he sneaks to the door of a lone travelling woman, picks the lock and lets himself in, armed with a syringe. The woman is in the toilet so he hides behind the door, surprising her when she emerges and jumps on her. He injects her and tells her not to be afraid and that she will just fall asleep. “I’m always careful with the needles.”

She falls asleep like he said she would, he gets undressed and takes off her bathrobe. The scene is almost beautiful if you forget what he is doing. He takes out a razor blade from his bag, cuts her wrist and drinks her blood.

Martin is a vampire.

Or is he? The next morning Martin (John Amplas, Creepshow) gets off the train in bright sunlight and doesn’t seem at all phased by it. Amplas’ general physique is that of a geeky, awkward teenager, with an amusing “leggy” walk. Although facially he has the features of the romantic vampire vision; full lips, predominant teeth (not fangs) and wavy hair. Put him in a frilly shirt and he would not look out of place. He has black & white visions, or maybe they’re flash backs, of him in another time, seducing female victims, drinking their blood and being chased by the torch carrying yokels.
 When we get to his uncle’s house it is apparent he knows all about Martin. He warns him not to take from the village. He does though, but he is almost always very careful.

I found myself hoping Martin would succeed. He was quite innocent and yet in other ways profound. He thought that the fact he had not had sex with someone awake, meant he had not really had sex. So when he is propositioned by a bored housewife he is too shy to accept… at first anyway. This relationship becomes his downfall. This is one of those vampire films that links the drinking of blood to sex and sexuality and does it very convincingly. Acting impulsively and completely free is quite sexy and attractive.

Martin dismisses his uncle’s garlic and crucifixes and violent attempts at exorcism, insisting there is no such thing as real magic. It is quite a fascinating idea that there could be vampires and that they are not effected by such things because there is no higher power, no God. They just exist. They just are there along side the rest of us.

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2 Responses to “Martin (1977)”

  • That’s got to be one of the most misleading horror movie posters ever (and it’s got some competition for THAT title). Having said that, the state broadcaster is even worse — the last time Martin was shown on BBC TV, it was listed in the Radio Times and elsewhere as “Martin The Vampire”, which misses the whole bloody point of the film!

  • A much overlooked horror this one. I love the ambiguity and as Seamaster says it shouldn’t be marketed as a vampire film for that point. A good social metaphor for being an outsider that should have been explored more in the horror genre. Obviously the zombie explosion has taken up this challenge and asks if we are just braindead shells dragging ourselves through life. Martin asked why we always felt hungry for something that repulsed us and why in cities of millions do we sometimes feel alone.

    Loved the review.

    Tony.

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