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This is a movie I saw on TV in c.1981-86 in the UK. I think it was American but I can't be sure whether it had subtitles and was just set in America, unknown cast (to me anyway).

The patriarch of an East European immigrant family has accepted custody of a relative. The relative looks to be late teens to early twenties and has been in some sort of trouble, shaming the family. I have the feeling he'd been passed around a while.

When the youth arrives the old man lays down the law: the youth must behave and if the old man hears that he has done anything "wrong" he'll see that that is the "end" of him.

The youth appears to toe the line at first, but we see a scene where he enters a couples' home at night while they are in bed. He somehow renders the husband unconscious after assuring him that he will wake up, then he does something to the wife (possibly rape but without noise, drugged perhaps).

The old man becomes suspicious of the youth's comings and goings, and rumours about this incident. He warns him again more sternly.

Feeling sad and misunderstood, the youth befriends an older local woman who is also depressed. The woman later commits suicide for unrelated reasons.

On hearing about the suicide the old man immediately accuses the youth of killing her, which he denies. He is innocent... this time.

As good as his word, and against his devout nature, the old man is obliged to "end" the youth. Afterward the family are sorry but relieved.

The film had a very dark, sombre and disturbing vibe. It seemed to have been shot inexpensively, could have been art house, maybe black and white, but the acting was decent.

I remember being uncertain whether the youth was or wasn't a vampire or just had some hereditary syndrome that could be the root of the mythology. I think you weren't meant to be sure.

Either way I think that is the fantasy or sci-fi element in the story.

Can anyone identify this?

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Sounds like Martin (1976).

From Wikipedia:

Martin (also known internationally as Wampyr) is a 1977 American psychological horror film written and directed by George A. Romero, and starring John Amplas. Its plot follows a troubled young man who believes himself to be a vampire. Shot in 1976, Martin was Romero's fifth feature film and followed The Crazies (1973).

Romero claimed that Martin was the favorite of all his films. The film is also notable as the first collaboration between George Romero and special effects artist Tom Savini. While a prosecution for obscenity did not result, the film was seized and confiscated in the UK under Section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 during the video nasty panic.

As the film opens, a young man, traveling on an overnight train from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, sedates a woman with a syringe full of narcotics, slices her forearm with a razor blade, then drinks her blood. The next morning, he is met at the Pittsburgh train station by a man in a white suit who escorts him to a second train destined for Braddock, Pennsylvania. The young man, Martin, claims to be much older than his appearance would suggest. He has romantic monochrome visions of religious icons, vampiric seductions, and torch-carrying mobs, but whether these are memories or fantasies is not specified. The man in white is Martin's elderly cousin, Tateh Cuda, who, in accordance with family tradition, has reluctantly agreed to give Martin room and board alongside Cuda's orphaned granddaughter, Christina.

Cuda is a Lithuanian Catholic who treats Martin like an Old World vampire, referring to him as "Nosferatu." He tries unsuccessfully to repel Martin with traditional methods, such as strings of garlic and a crucifix. Martin mocks these attempts and says bitterly, "There's no real magic...ever." Christina is also highly skeptical and critical of Cuda's beliefs, and thinks Martin should receive psychiatric treatment. Cuda warns that if Martin murders anyone in Braddock, he will stake him through the heart.

Martin begins seeking advice from a local radio disc jockey, who dubs him "The Count." He rejects many common perceptions about vampires, saying there is no "magic stuff." The DJ's listeners consider Martin to be a hit. While making deliveries for Cuda's butcher shop, Martin meets a lonely, depressed housewife named Abbie Santini. When she touches Martin during an attempt at seducing him, he flees. Unbeknownst to his family, Martin goes to Pittsburgh and targets a woman he sees at a grocery store. Believing her to be alone while her husband is away on business, he breaks into her house but finds her in bed with a lover. After a series of struggles, Martin kills and feeds on the man instead of the woman, then drugs her before leaving the scene. Back in Braddock, Martin has sexual intercourse with Mrs. Santini, and they begin a full-fledged affair which lessens his appetite for blood.

Christina becomes increasingly frustrated by her disagreements with Cuda, ultimately moving out of his house and bidding Martin goodbye. Worried about experiencing withdrawal, Martin goes on a feeding binge in the city, wherein he attacks a pair of homeless derelicts and narrowly escapes the police. Upon returning to Braddock, he visits Mrs. Santini only to discover that she has committed suicide by cutting her wrists in a bathtub. Cuda, who has learned of Mrs. Santini's death, believes Martin to be her killer and fatally stakes him through the heart before burying him in a backyard flowerbed.

As the credits roll, radio callers inquire and speculate about "The Count" while Tateh Cuda places a small crucifix atop Martin's grave.

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    Yes, that's the one. I remember the old man clearly even though I didn't quite get what the title character was supposed to be. Thanks. Apr 26, 2022 at 13:52

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