Nearly a decade after George A. Romero changed the face of modern horror films with Night of the Living Dead -- and following the less successful projects Season of the Witch and The Crazies -- the Pittsburgh-based auteur returned to top form with this superb vampire tale. Set in a rapidly crumbling steeltown suburb, the story focuses on shy, moody Martin (John Amplas), a teenager of East European descent who may or may not be a vampire. Though he possesses no fangs or supernatural powers and has no aversions to either crucifixes or garlic, Martin is nevertheless compelled to drug pretty young women, slash them with razor blades, and consume their blood. His motivations seem purely psychological -- as revealed to a call-in radio talk show where Martin has become an anonymous celebrity -- but the notion of a family vampire curse is fostered by Martin's stoic uncle Cuda Lincoln Maazel, who is convinced that he must destroy the boy by hammering a stake through his heart. Romero's superb script keeps the film's supernatural questions ambiguous, focusing instead on the characters' inner turmoil as modern-day attitudes and values clash with vanishing Old World traditions. Filmed on an extremely low budget, Martin benefits from its gritty, kitchen-sink realism, making the outbursts of graphic horror even more surreal and disturbing and creating a sense of doom that builds to a tragically ironic climax.
by Cavett Binion synopsis