Zombie movies made him a legend, but George A. Romero’s finest achievement may have been Martin, his 1977 character study about a young, lonely man living in Pittsburgh who may or may not be a vampire. Martin (John Amplas) is certainly convinced of this, claiming to be 84 years old and drinking the blood of his victims. However, rather than fangs, the tools of his trade are syringes and razor blades, and he regularly mocks the “magic” talismans like garlic and crucifixes that his senior citizen uncle Tada Cuda (Lincoln Maazel) wields against him. Romero leaves the central issue of whether Martin is undead ambiguous, which lends greater creepiness to the protagonist’s romantic black-and-white flashbacks to past crimes and flights from torch-bearing mobs, as well as more suspense to his present-day slayings. The writer/director’s employment of disorienting camera angles and perspectives contributes to the low-budget feature’s scraggly tension, while his portrait of urban decay and discontent brings a measure of sly social commentary to Martin’s spree, which seems driven by sexual (rather than nutritional) hunger. Thanks to Amplas’ morose countenance, Martin comes off as a surprisingly sympathetic figure, though even more impressive than Martin’s ability to elicit compassion is a murder sequence involving a woman and her extramarital lover that’s staged with a breathtaking level of taut, brutal precision.