Review of Martin (Special Edition Two Discs)
Having firmly established his credentials as a horror director in the groundbreaking 1968 zombie movie `Night of the Living Dead`, `The Crazies` and `Season of the Witch`, George A. Romero made this unorthodox vampire film before returning to the sub-genre with which he would be forever associated, with `Dawn of the Dead` in 1978.
Completely removed from any of the vampire trademarks (elongated canine teeth, capes, intolerance to sunlight and garlic), Martin, a teenager who is convinced he is an 84 year old vampire, uses razorblades rather than his teeth to extract the blood of his victims to sate his thirst.
As with most of Romero`s films, the events predominantly take place in his home town of Pittsburgh and was made with a tiny budget and features some of the producers and his friends, as well as Romero himself.
The anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer is disappointing, with grain and softness to indicate there has been no attempt at restoration.
Both the Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 and the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks are perfectly clear, but the 5.1 mix is largely extraneous, given the front-loaded nature of the soundtrack.
The commentary with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, and DoP Michael Gornick and composer Donald Rubinstein, is a typical Romero film yak-track. The contributors all have a great time reminiscing and provide some interesting facts about the making of the film, though you get the feeling that they could spend less time watching the film and more time imparting information.
The `Making Martin` documentary is shockingly short at just over nine minutes long - it`s worth a look but hardly contains the depth of material you would expect on a special edition DVD.
Together with the US theatrical trailer and the original TV spot, there are two - count `em - two radio spots!
The poster stills and gallery show exactly what you would expect.
`Martin` is unlike any other vampire movie: the protagonist isn`t affected by sunlight, crucifixes or garlic, he doesn`t have fangs and only he and his uncle believe he is a vampire. At many points throughout the film, it cuts to black and white and scenes from Martin`s past, although whether these are real memories and whether Martin is indeed a vampire is unclear and never resolved. Most, if not all, vampires are confident individuals who prey with power and without remorse; Martin is a near-mute loner who relies on syringes full of sedative to hunt and can only speak at length about his troubles under an alias to a phone-in radio show.
As he says on the commentary, `Martin` is Romero`s favourite of his own films, yet I`m sure even he would admit that it`s not his best work. With a budget of an estimated $80,000, an actor making his film debut in the lead and Tom Savini`s special visual effects still in their infancy, it has much going against it, but has an innate charm and ambition that make it a must-see for any fan of Romero`s work.
However, the fact that this is marketed as a special edition DVD is shocking, given the quantity and quality of extras: only a commentary on disc 1 and less than twenty minutes of material on disc 2. I can find no reason why two discs were needed and they only seem to be used as a marketing tool - `2-disc Special Edition` sounds better than `Special Edition`. If you only buy one copy of `Martin`, this is it, but it`s probably not worth upgrading to this from the standard edition.