Category Archives: Horror films

Really Awful Movies: Ep 188 – George Romero and Martin

With the passing of George Romero, on this episode of the Really Awful Movies Podcast, we look back at the famous horror film director, and examine a real classic from his oeuvre: Martin.

“He could be the boy next door,” is the tagline, and this “boy” (played by John Amplas) is en route by train from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, where he is put under the care of great uncle Cuda.

Along the way, we get a glimpse of the “vampire” in action (the question as to whether Martin is a blood-sucker is open-ended indeed), where he feeds on a fellow passenger, knocking her out cold with an anesthetic before meeting Cuda on arrival in the Steel City. It’s an unsettling scene, creepy as all hell, in a film with many wonderful, shocking, and memorable vignettes.

Martin is a strange beast, a terrific film that explores some of the rich themes Romero brings up in Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, and Dawn of the Dead: man’s inhumanity to man, the “undead” as a reflecting of ourselves, the animalistic nature of our being, corralling chaos into order…and many more.

Here, Romero deftly uses Martin as a conduit to tell a coming-of-age tale, a family drama (which just happens to have a bunch of juicy murders along the way), where a youngster is just trying to find his way in an often confusing world. This, as Martin struggles to controls his Freudian “drives” and turns to a late night talk show to provide a sounding board for the modern-day difficulties inherent in being an Old World vampire. Assuming he is Nosferatu, which is a big assumption.

So join us as we remember George Romero, Toronto’s adopted son, and the man who made horror films critically acceptable (to a point). Sure, he’s known for bringing zombies into the public consciousness, but let’s not forget that Martin completely upturned expectations surrounding the vampire mystique.

Really Awful Movies: Ep 187 – The Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror has spawned a seemingly countless number of both sequels and imitators.

All the stuff we’ve come to expect from the genre is here: the devil, cat scares, warnings, strange doings, a wigged out pet, creepy dolls, the works…

The 1979 American supernatural horror film, directed by Stuart Rosenberg (who is best known for Cool Hand Luke), is based on Jay Anson’s 1977 novel of the same name, which was a big hit.

It’s Installment 1 of the Amityville franchise. A remake was produced by Michael Bay in 2005, and starring Ryan Reynolds. Neither of us saw it, or intends to, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Amityville story is based on alleged supernatural events experienced by the Lutz family who bought a new home on 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, Long Island, New York. The infamous abode is a house where a mass murder had been committed the year before, a whole family gunned down while they slept. After the parents (here played by James Brolin and Margot Kidder) moved into their new house, they claimed a series of frightening paranormal events occurred, many of which were demonstrated to be false.

There’s not much to be said about this film, but its reputation does precede it. The opening Lalo Schifrin salvo is haunting (but the children’s chorus bit has subsequently been overused). The performances are all over the map.

Robert Ebert, who in his review of the film said he met and spoke with George Lutz once at an airport, said this: In order to be a horror movie, a horror movie needs a real Horror. The creature in “Alien” was truly gruesome. The case of possession in “The Exorcist” was profoundly frightening. The problem with “The Amityville Horror” is that, in a very real sense, there’s nothing there.

That’s probably right. The first third is dynamite and it slowly erodes all the goodwill built up.

Listen for yourself!