This week I’m covering genre pieces from down under. Thirst (1979) is currently available on instant Netflix. Please note: this film has nothing to do with The Thirst (2006 – available on instant Netflix) or Thirst (Bakjwi – 2009 – disc only) – even though both are also vampire movies.
PASS: Thirst (1979) – Rated R
“Innocent and naïve Kate Davis has just been kidnapped and taken to a remote village by a cult that craves blood. But why? According to the prophecies of the Hyma Brotherhood, she must fulfill a destiny (preordained ages ago) by marrying the demon cult leader and helping his minions quench their insatiable thirst for blood. Satanic rituals and unspeakable torture abound in this hypnotic horror flick that’s definitely not for the squeamish.”
I’m sure there is an interesting story buried here somewhere. Unfortunately buried is the correct term – expect to dig through a ton of exposition here to find the nuggets. Kate is a descendant of Countess Elisabeth Bathory (see Hammer’s Countess Dracula for a good telling of that tale although it is not currently available on Netflix) and the cult needs her ‘royal’ bloodline to improve their bloodline.
The brainwashing attempts give them an excuse to stage a scene and then go ‘oh it’s a dream’. Generally this is okay once in a film but multiple times becomes tedious especially when the film isn’t about dreams. The whole movie is pretty tedious and formulaic. Pointless chase -> Boring exposition -> Baffling dream sequence -> Try to feed Kate some blood -> Repeat.
Performances are all over the map as if the director just let the actors do what they wanted. Chantal Contouri is wickedly mediocre here as the heroine. She never seems terrified or even upset at anything that happens to her. Shirley Cameron is over-the-top as the sinister Mrs. Barker – perhaps making up for Chantal’s indifferent performance. David Hemmings is just fine as Dr. Fraser but certainly not enough to save the movie.
Now I feel as though I’ve been too mean to this picture. There are some good gags such as the shower scene and the helicopter sequence. It is unnerving to see blood come out of a milk carton. Once you see a vat of blood, you know someone is going to fall into that but it is still a good gag. Unfortunately the good points only lift this up to passably watchable.
People Watch: Perennial villain Henry Silva (The Manchurian Candidate, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai) whose film career stretches over half a century again plays a villain here. Robert Thompson (Patrick from Patrick) appears as well.