Remembering Romero: George Romero’s ‘Martin’ (1978)


1428 Elm continues to remember life and career of George Romero by looking at the filmmaker’s underrated vampire classic, 1978’s ‘Martin.’

It’s the late ’70s. Before flesh-eating monsters become legendary, a new kind of vampire is on the rise. His name is Martin. He’s confused. Or is he?

The Career Gets Creepier

George Romero is readying his fifth film and sees more forks in the road. After his post Night of the Living Dead movies mostly failing at the box office, the future film legend is needing a hit badly. With money almighty, Romero must make a career out of his passion. But before he solidifies zombies as cultural staples, and becomes George Romero, the filmmaker challenges the idea of vampires like never before.

The film is Martin, and in 1978, truly makes the filmmaker a new auteur on the rise. Mixing mental disease with monsters hungry for human blood, the film tasks its audience with questions of mental illness wrapped in vampire lore. It’s a film still asking questions today, and possibly, louder than ever.

The Brilliance of the Blood

George Romero’s ‘Martin’ — Courtesy of Laurel Entertainment Inc.

More from George Romero

If you’ve seen Romero’s one and only vampire movie, you’ll remember the roller coaster ride that is Martin. One of the strengths of the experience is the picture’s almost interactive nature. In a way, the film asks you if the main character is right or wrong. You see, Martin thinks he’s a vampire. He believes he lusts for the taste of human blood and his desire is getting deadlier. But he may be imaging the whole thing — Martin’s biggest enemy may be himself.

Starring John AmplasLincoln Maazel and Christine Forrest, with Tom Savini cameoing as Arthur, the ’78 film shows the true range of Romero. And poignantly so, the ending is one of the best in the history of the moving image. If you’ve yet to see Martin, I won’t ruin the experience. Just know, when the ending comes, grab onto your furniture. Trust us, it’ll blow you away.

Martin’s intellectual dialogue with its views foreshadows what the filmmaker would come to be known for. Romero towers over other screen titans in thematic storytelling, and while it stated with Night of the Living Dead, his vampire picture proves he’s not just the “zombie guy.” It proves he’s an artist.

Legends Never Lost

Two days ago, George Romero left this earth but his legacy forever lives on. While we’re still mourning the filmmaker, revisiting his filmography gives comfort in knowing he’ll never full leave this crazy existence. He’s touched everyone of us, at different times, for different reasons. And his films will touch millions yet born. But above all, he shows horror isn’t for the lowest common denominator. And when an artist uses the genre’s canvas as a tool, it can be quite moving.

Next: Remembering Romero: ‘Night of the Living Dead’

Rest In Peace Mr. Romero. Thanks for the memories. And don’t worry, we’re all still scared.

Missing George Romero? Fan of the underrated ‘Martin’? Let the other Horror Heads know what you think in the comment section below.