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Back in the spring, George A. Romero's long-shelved The Amusement Park made its way to the world of streaming for the very first time via Shudder. Little did we know that it wouldn't be the only piece of long lost Romero media to resurface this year.
Posting on Facebook over the weekend, Ronald Gorewood (reportedly an alias for cinematographer Michael Gornick, according to Collider), announced that a "seldom (if ever) seen, black and white 16mm version" of Martin has been located by The Living Dead Museum & Gift Shop in Monroeville, Pennsylvania after nearly half a century.
This cut, which runs for about three-and-a-half hours, was allegedly Romero's "preferred version" of the movie. Gorewood also wrote that the plan is to return the fabled print back into the hands of original producer Richard Rubinstein and production company Braddock Associates "for digital revitalization and distribution to the world."
The post also included an image of the first reel (there are three in total) containing a handwritten label Gorewood claimed he originally prepared back in 1976. "To my knowledge, this is the only existing version of this Romero classic," he added.
Similar to The Amusement Park, Martin — originally released in the late 1970s — is one of those rare Romero movies that has nothing to do with zombies. It's actually a vampire story centered around the titular Martin Mathias (played by John Amplas), a young man who believes himself to be an ageless blood-sucker. After his mother's suicide, he's sent to live with his uncle in a small Pennsylvania town, whose residents become unsuspecting victims of Martin's iron-rich appetite.
Empire Magazine reviewed Martin in January of 2000, calling it a "gory thriller that makes fun of the vampire myth before the hammer blow of a truly shocking climax." Den of Geek ran its own retrospective in 2017, praising the film as "Romero’s most textured film, much of it due to the fact that it was shot on 16mm on location in and around Braddock, PA, while the rest of the town went about its usual daily business."
During an interview with the British Film Institute in 2017, Romero himself described Martin as "my favorite film of mine."
"The main reason is because of the experience I had shooting it. It was wonderful," he elaborated in a previously unpublished conversation run by Little White Lies. "We were non-union so we had no constraints. We were there to just do the work and make the film. I just have the fondest memories of that. I also happen to think, partly because of that, that it just let me be able to do whatever it was I wanted to do. I was able to make any and every shot that I wanted to make in that film, whereas usually you end up compromising, cutting things off the production board."
Second Sight Films will release a 4K restoration of the original print of Martin in early 2022.
In another part of the Romero-Verse, Warner Bros. released a star-studded animated translation of 1968's Night of the Living Dead (grandfather to all modern depictions of the zombie) in September.