Thirst (1979) – Ozploitation week

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.

Thirst

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.

Patrick – Ozploitation week

This week I am covering genre films from down under. Patrick is currently available on instant Netflix.

Patrick

WATCH: Patrick (1978) – Rated PG

“After murdering his mother and her lover during a bathtub tryst, young Patrick (Robert Thompson) lies comatose in a small, private hospital, where the only motion he can muster is involuntary spitting. When a young nurse, recently separated from her husband, begins working at the hospital, she senses that Patrick is trying to communicate with her psychically. Soon after, the men (and women) in her life mysteriously begin to die.”

I’ve got a weird feeling” – “Indigestion?”  – Yep. You betcha  – after watching this film.

While I enjoyed this film, it is very slow-moving (what did you expect when the title character is comatose?). This was made in the late 70s when everyone was rushing psychic phenomena movies to print in the wake of Carrie’s success. Because this trend was new at the time, they take a lot of time slowly building up Patrick’s ability. I do recommend this film if you have patience as it is an interesting story but Carrie, The Fury, and The Medusa Touch are better movies on the same subject.

This is a bizarre PG film.  While enough was apparently cut for a PG rating, this film still contains brief nudity including male full frontal, sexual activity, profanity, attempted spousal rape, a handjob, and mentions of necrophilia, enemas, and nymphomania.

The original film was 140 minutes but was trimmed to 112 minutes for U.S. release. While the movie feels like it runs too long at 112 minutes, it also leaves a lot out so the editing is somewhat poor. One character’s fate is shown after the fact, another’s fate is never determined, and there are a few other inconsistencies. The director has stated that the extra footage is unfortunately lost.

It was mentioned in Not Quite Hollywood that Quentin Tarantino patterned some of the Bride’s scenes in Kill Bill after this movie and it is pretty obvious that this is true. Strangely this Australian film spawned an Italian sequel, Patrick vive ancora (1980 – Patrick is Still Alive) that was simply a reimagining of the original with none of the cast or crew.

People watch: Director Richard Franklin later directed the much better Road Games and then directed a number of Hollywood movies. He later directed genre pictures such as Psycho 2, F/X 2, and Link but never had a real breakout hit. His last film was Visitors (2003) and he passed away in 2007. Not Quite Hollywood is dedicated to him.