Saturday, October 1, 2011

Night of Terror #1: 'Martin'

Hello ladies and ghouls, welcome to 31 Nights of Terror, a blog in which I and some compatriots of mine will watch and blog about 1 scary movie a day for the month of October, in honor of St. Halloween, who died a gruesome death for our sins on October 31st, 508 BC. My vision for the blog is to write about as wide a spectrum of movies as possible while still being considered about "horror movies," so expect to see some oddball choices going forward. I'd provide a list of what I plan to do, but A: It could change at any time so what would be the point, and B: I doubt anyone cares that much. Anyway, on to the festivities:

I picked Martin, George A. Romero's 1978 oddball vampire movie mostly because I happened to watch it recently. But it actually makes a good first pick since as opposed to be a straightforward horror movie, it's an acutely self-aware deconstruction of vampire mythology.

Like all George Romero movies (or at least the ones I've seen), Martin has a peculiar earthy quality that's difficult for me to describe. The visual style is rough, the sets and locations are all hyperrealistically shabby, the acting has a certain unpolished way about it. So when the first scene of the movie gets going, in which our titular character selects a victim on board a train, follows her to her sleeping car, and has weird vein-opening sex with her drugged and eventually unconscious body that results in her death, it's a little more ... real than what people are used to when it comes to movies about vampires.

This is probably even truer now than it was in 1978 when Martin was released. Twilight is all the rage now, and I've never seen any of those movies but as far as I can tell they have the visual style of perfume commercials and actors to match. Martin, on the other hand, with its aforementioned Romero earthiness and a title character who may be a supernatural creature of the night or just a psychotic weirdo with a blood fetish, would probably be quite a shock to people out there who see vampires as romantic.

Still, there is something romantic about Martin. One part of him is just a lonely, quiet guy, the kind we all knew (or maybe some of us were) in high school. But there's something assured about him too, a kind of confidence. Who knows, maybe he really is in his 80s and just looks like a teenager.

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