Martin (Limited Edition) (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


A young man who may or may not be a vampire moves in with his elderly cousin in small town Pennsylvania, but cannot overcome his urge to drink the blood of young women.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

George A. Romero practically reinvented the horror genre with his classic zombie film Night of the Living Dead in 1968 but did not find much success with later films until nearly a decade later with Martin.

An American Gothic set in the economically declining steel town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Martin deals with a young, shy, and moody young man who comes to live with his much older cousin Cuda (Lincoln Maazel). Cuda is convinced that Martin (John Amplas) is a vampire even though Martin has no fangs, and is not averse to crosses, garlic, or sunlight. What Cuda does have is the stories of a long family history of vampirism and Martin does seem compelled to stalk and drug beautiful young women and drink their blood. The mystery is, is Martin truly a vampire, or is he just psychologically compelled to do the things he does?

The genius in Romero’s film is the clash between the Old World culture, such as Cuda’s rituals and the contemporary mores. He takes the tropes of the Gothic vampire horror we are familiar with from the likes of Universal, Hammer, and Roger Corman’s AIP films and juxtaposed them with then-contemporary 1970s recession-era Pittsburgh. The fangs, clothing, and luxuriant homes are stripped away, but the interactions between the “vampire,” the trapped, beautiful woman (Martin finds himself having an affair with a dissatisfied married woman), and the visual aesthetic of the dappled rooms and dark alleyways. We are given at least one scene where Martin spoofs the idea of the traditional fanged vampire to frighten Cuda.

Romero’s direction and screenplay keep us guessing about whether Martin is truly a vampire or if he is just an unhinged young man right up to the tragic ending. The slow-building drama ands shocking twist keep the film interesting and make it one of the better indie cult horror films to come out of the era.

The Video

Martin was originally shot on 16mm in the Super 16 format. This new release was taken from a Second Sight Films 4K scan and restoration of a 35mm dupe negative supervised and approved by Director of Photography Michael Gornick. It appears in a 1.33:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) HDR10 encodement. HDR10 metadata reads a MaxLL of 1000 nits and MaxFALL of 400 nits.

The fact that this 16mm film is sourced from a 35mm dupe negative means that the overall image is very grainy, overall “resolution” and dynamic range is a bit limited. Due to the latter, even with the fine HDR10 coding, the blacks can often devolve into an amorphous mass and white levels often blowout. That said, there is a good bit of detail captured in this transfer and the granularity, though coarse, looks organic. The HDR10 adds some good ‘pop’ in specular highlights. A good place to check is chapter 11 as Martin goes on a killing spree in the dark. There we see some streetlights shining, metallic sheen, and vibrant colors against the black, shadowy background.

The Audio

Second Sight provides Martin with three audio options. The best one is the original mono mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. It may not have the spaciousness of the also-included DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 remix, but it sounds the most natural and is clean enough. The 5.1 mix sounded too artificial and hollow to my ears. The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio stereo mix suffered a similar defect to my ears, with sort of artificially wide stereo imaging.

The Supplements

  • Audio commentary by George A. Romero, John Amplas, and Tom Savini
  • Audio commentary by George A. Romero, Richard P. Rubenstein, Tom Savini, Michael Gornick, and Donald Rubenstein
  • Audio commentary by Travis Crawford
  • Audio commentary by Kat Ellinger
  • Taste the Blood of Martin (1080p; 01:09:15)
  • Scoring the Shadows (1080p; 00:17:30)
  • Roy – New and Used Furniture: A Short Film by Tony Buba (1080p; 00:11:13)
  • Making Martin: A Recounting (1080p; 00:09:34)
  • Trailer, TV, and Radio Spots (1080p; 00:04:40)

Limited Edition Contents:

  • Rigid slipcase with original classic artwork
  • 108-page book with new essays by Daniel Bird, Miranda Corcoran, Travis Crawford, Heather Drain, Kat Ellinger, Andrew Graves, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Elena Lazic, , Stephen Thrower, Jon Towlson, Simon Ward and Tony Williams plus rare stills and behind-the-scenes images
  • Original Soundtrack CD by Donald Rubinstein
  • 5 collectors’ art cards illustrated by Adam Stothard

The Final Assessment

One of Romero’s lesser known but no less fascinating films, Martin subverts the vampire genre and makes for a dramatic, even tragic watch. Second Sight Films offers the film in a new 4K restoration that extracts as much as it can from this low budget horror, now looking as good or better than it ever has in a feature rich collection.

Martin (Limited Edition) is out on 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray in the UK 27 March 2023 from Second Sight Films.

  • Rating Certificate: UK: 18
  • Studios & Distributors: Laurel Productions | Braddock Associates | Second Sight Films
  • Director: George A. Romero
  • Written By: George A. Romero
  • Run Time: 95 Mins.
  • Street Date: 27 March 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: HDR10
  • HDR Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 1000 nits
    • MaxFALL: 400 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 1.0
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo | English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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A young man who may or may not be a vampire moves in with his elderly cousin in small town Pennsylvania, but cannot overcome his urge to drink the blood of young women.Martin (Limited Edition) (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)
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