Let me tell you about this film. I’ve actually watched two versions today, Romero’s original and also the Italian re-edit. I’m not about to discussed the obvious winner of the two, but let me tell you, the Italian one is a great surprise to those who have seen Martin on occasion. I’d still opt for the original, personally.
Martin (John Amplas) is an 82 year old vampire whose cousin, Cuda (Lincoln Maazel) intends to save his soul. Cuda’s daughter Christina (Christine Forrest) actually sees Martin as a confused teenager in need of a shrink. So who’s right here? A stunningly original vampire film which stands up today, untouched as one of the greatest of the genre. Martin prey’s on local pretty girls, using hypodermic needles to drug them before he slashes open their wrists (Amazing effect, c/o Tom Savini who also stars) to drink their blood. Before and during each attack, we see a vision of how the situation will flow, in Black and White, the victim embraces Martin in a silver screen movie style. It’s dreamy and romantic, but as the viewer, we are witness to the harsh reality and less attractive situations which occur. One has a girl on a train, holding out her arms with loving mesmerised eyes, the reality has her stepping from the toilet cubicle, face mask and blowing her nose.
Another attack, one of the finest in the film has a Martin break into a woman’s home only to find himself in the middle of an affair. The bloke tries to make excuses until the women explains she’s never seen Martin before. This is a classic Romero moment. Human emotion and situations which become a blunder on martins behalf, but ever so familiar to the viewer. The scene holds up a game of cat n mouse as Martin hides around the house, awaiting for the drug to take effect on the bloke, who he’s stabbed with the needle. A very clever scene.
Meanwhile, his uncle, obsessed with the family curse is convinced that Martin is the legendary vampire, Nosferatu. Crucifix and garlic cover every door. He knows what Martin is and isn’t about to let his soul be taken over, seeing this as his own personal mission to save the boy.
Now, let me mention this Italian print once more. Many scenes have been rejigged completely, some removed, some added which works and feels fresh and new, but the biggest plus for this edition is the score. The original has a very minimalist score which allows the actions to take priority for the viewer. The Italian has a crazy big 70’s score, care of the Italian genre gods, Goblin. A must for any fan. Again, this works but on a very different level, creating even more chaos in the scenes of bumbled attacks and injecting a harsh unbalance for the viewer.
Personally, I’d take the original print every time. This is one of my favourite Romero films, and one of my favourite all time movies. I’m glad it holds up after all these years as this is the fist time I’ve seen if for 23ish years. Masterpiece. The new print below is beautiful too.