Tuesday, October 14, 2014

George A. Romero Week: Martin

Greetings Romero fans and welcome back to Day 2 of George A. Romero Week. Well I thought initially like so many that Romero was unable to get away from his zombie comfort zone and could not provide us any terror aside from the shambling dead that rot. I was, in fact wrong and discovered a disturbed character haunted by visions of vampiric seduction, impeding torch and pitchfork wielding mobs and the inability to tell if they are real or simply imagined. This is Martin.

Hmm?  Yes, Satan?

Martin Madahas: Things only seem to be spoilers. There is no real magic. There's no real magic ever.

Our movie opens on an overnight train with a young man (John Amplas of Dawn of the Dead, Bloodeaters, Knightriders, Creepshow, Midnight, Day of the Dead and No Pets) Martin after he is sedated a young women with a syringe filled with God knows what, slices open her arm with a razor blade and proceeds to drink her blood. A tad kooky, perhaps but maybe he is just misunderstood. That next morning he gets on another train to Braddock Pennsylvania with a man garbed in white (Lincoln Maazel of NET Playhouse and Martin). The man is actually Martin's great uncle Cuda, a strict Lithuanian Catholic that has no time for fantasies and absurd behavior and is highly suspicious that Martin's immediate family had died in Indianapolis while he was untouched.

Santa after Jenny Craig.

He takes Martin in his home but informs him there are rules and obligations to be met and will be met for anyone under his roof. His cousin Cristina (Christine Forrest of Three Stops to Murder, Martin, Dawn of the Dead, Knightriders, Creepshow, Monkey Shines and The Dark Half) is forbidden to interact with Martin at all which.. would make dinner time tough. Treating his grandnephew like an outcast the boy is frustrated and asks why, Cuda responds if anyone in Braddock is murdered he will drive a stake right through Martin's heart.

Working in Cuda's butcher shop Martin makes deliveries to several of the local women in town and zeroes in on Mrs. Santini (Elyane Nadeau of Martin) whose husband is out of town so often she tries to snare the lad for herself but it unnerves him the first few times as she is clearly grand uncle's best customers and must curb the beast. He catches a ride to Pittsburgh and targets a woman that looks lonely but he is unsure now of his predatory instincts. Will Martin be found and staked? Will grand uncle lighten up and put on a kicky beret?

Now a few words about our film.

To escape the dreaded "X" rating of the razor blade opening up someone's arm, Romero trimmed the shot down by several seconds because the MPAA found it to be vulgar, violent and unnecessary... yet every vampire movie has protruding fangs driven in a neck or around a collar bone.

Tom Savini did all the stunts, played Arthur, Christina's boyfriend as well as FX makeup for the movie as this was the first time collaborating with Romero but certainly not the last. The Latin exorcism passages read by the priest during Martin's flashback sequences are authentic so get those recorders, tablets and laptops at the ready to translate it just in case you have a distant relative that seems a bit hinky.

Narrowed down to 95 minutes Romero feels the additional 160 minutes that was removed really allows the viewers inside Martin's mind and psychosis to with Cuda talks to the boys the vampire lore, how the art of seduction could seem enticing but how they must never stray from the path of the lord. Deep stuff in my opinion.

So wait... you're not Shaun Cassidy?  Get out of my car!