Thirst (1979)

Director Rod Hardy
Writers John Pinkney
Starring Chantal Contouri, Shirley Cameron, Max Phipps, Henry Silva, Rod Mullinar, David Hemmings
Genre Vampire
Tagline This ancient Evil is now a modern industry.
Country

Talk us through it

Executive Kate Davis is abducted from her home by the minions of a secret society of Vampires. It seems Kate is the descendant of the legendary Elizabeth Bathor, and as such is of vital importance to "The Brotherhood", as the vampire sect calls itself. Various Vampire Psychologists will use various approaches to bringing out Kate's "inner beast", and each will go to extraordinary lengths to get Kate to drink blood.

Kate desperately tries to hold onto her sanity, and I would imagine humanity, as the various treatments become increasingly more cruel. Is Kate a blood lusting vampire in waiting, or have the Brotherhood picked on the wrong gal?

Are fake fangs the vamp equivalent of fake breasts?

Review

"A bit early to be taking the prisoner for his walk isn't it." - Mrs Barker

Director Rod Hardy starts his movie in a sort of stylised Hammer gothic fashion. I was actually looking forward to watching the rest of the movie based on the opening scene to be honest. Kate Davis slowly wakes and starts to sit up in what we quickly realise is a coffin. Kate screams and we're good to go. Actually no idea what this prolong piece is intended for but you got to love some gothic trappings in a horror flick dealing with Vampires. About the only notion I could come up with was Kate's aversion to blood ironically leads to her fate in a sort of diametrically opposite fashion to the one dealt out to hr ancestor. Neither Director Rod Hardy or Writer John Pinkney go anywhere further with the concept, so who knows.

Hardy keeps up with the gothic trappings through some scenes in the movie, but also dispenses with them when he wants to indulge his vision of a more modern nest of Vampires than we are normally used to. These Vamps aren't concerned about crucifixes, garlic, or walking around in daylight. Thankfully they don't sparkle however, and transformation into either bats or "children of the night" is definitely not on the menu. We quickly learn that rather than being a Supernatural menace, Vampires are pretty much ordinary humans who have reached a Superhuman state by the ingestion of human blood. There's probably a sub text going down with this, but I'll leave that notion to one of the self proclaim Critics in this Country to beat to within an inch of it's life. Oh and apparently not being Supernatural is no cure for having red glowing eyes on occasion when various vamps get the old blood lust going down.

The one really disturbing concept that Thirst throws up is docile humans being milked of their blood in a sort of Vampire dairy, they even refer to the victims as "blood cows". Once again you can probably take a sub text from this concept as well, but I was just in the movie to hang tough with a good Vampire yarn. Homogenous cartoons of blood, there's something diabolical yet wickedly cool about the whole concept. Vaguely think I may have run across the idea before, but if so I can't remember where. During the course of the film you get plenty of shots of "dairy" workers, and also management checking various valves and dials, just like in a real milk factory. Either you are going to be right happy with that or be left wondering how the hell else they are going to pad out this movie.

Besides the factory that dripped blood we spend an inordinate amount of time in Kate's dream world as she goes through various drug induced stupors. I kind of thought this device didn't add all that much to the movie, with a few of the dream sequences making little to no sense. Clearly the script writer had some concept of what he wanted to do with the movie, pity he didn't share that concept with the rest of us. Of course Thirst may have fallen prey to various editors cutting scenes out with scant regard for narrative flow. There's certainly on occasion a disjointed feeling to things.

I applaud the film makers for making a Vampire flick, but really do wish they had of stuck to one type of film and not mixed and matched elements so much.

There's a couple of unintentional funny moments in the movie, and got to say they are crackers. When Kate first arrives home she is greeted by her housekeeper. Unfortunately on first appearance the house keeper bares more than a passing resemblance to Alice from The Brady Bunch, which had me grinning from ear to ear. If only they had of thought to include a Butcher named Sam my viewing pleasure would have been complete. Alas it wasn't to be so. Matching Alice's cameo, on subsequent visits to the housekeeper the resemblance isn't all that striking, is the use of false fangs by various Vampires. Unfortunately for those who may have been waiting on some, oh I don't know, actual horror comes to mind, the fangs look like they might have been brought down the IGA from the novelty stand. The topping on this blood drench banana split is Kate's boyfriend Derek Whitehall. Derek is, I think, meant to be a big city Architect, but he kind of looks like he stepped directly out of a porn movie. Guess it was the moustache that gave that impression. Brian May, no not that one, doesn't help by lashing on the soft porn styled score during intimate Kate and Derek moments. If only they had included some whip cream and a Llama then my never mind, moving along citizens.

Strangely, for a movie that sort of works like a one trick pony at a blood dairy, there doesn't appear to be a lot happening really. Thirst sort of meanders along till it decides to end it all in one of the more strange twists you are likely to run across. Sorry the ending of this film made little to no sense after the 80 odd minutes that had preceded it. Why on earth the Vamps were spending so much time and resources in trying to turn Kate to the blood side is equally never fully explained, besides a few throw away lines that were clearly Writer John Pinkney's attempt at covering over some cracks in the movie's foundations.

Surprisingly for a flick I didn't overly enjoy there were a couple of iconic moments that should be committed to the Down Under hall of horror fame. The whole blood shower, pre-dating Blade thank you very much, was excellently handled and something you will remember long after the closing credits. The scenes of drugged humans being milked of blood in a dairy also had me nodding my head in approval, now that's something you don't tend to see everyday.

Chantal Contouri (Kate Davis), who reminded me of my Sister in Law, was pretty good overall with a tendency to be sort of wallpaper on occasion. While not exactly giving a strong performance Contouri isn't bringing things down either. Shirley Cameron (Mrs Barker) was a hoot, and simply went at things like a maniac, Brits I think would be giving her a standing ovation for presenting the archetypical villain Hammer style! Max Phipps (Mr Hodge) was simply out of his depth, keep to the home videos. And Rod Mullinar (Derek) got to pretend he was in a soft-core porn flick, nothing else could explain that mo.

Henry Silva (Dr Gauss) and David Hemmings (Dr Fraser) were brought in to cover the foreign markets and went through the motions without overly appearing Oscar worthy.

On the T&A front Chantal Contouri gives the audience a quick peek at the girls on a few occasions, and the ladies can get all hot and bothered over Rod Mullinar's moustache.

Since Tony G was behind this flick Brian May, no not that one, got to do the score again. Things range from the dramatic to soft porn, and unfortunately stop off at that irritating horror hotel of mutilated sound Aussie horror flicks of the 1980s covered themselves in. Not the best score May has ever penned would be my final call on things.

Summary Execution

While I wasn't left with many memories post closing credits, Thirst did enough to entertain me as it stumbled towards a pretty much pre-ordained conclusion. As a modern uptake on the Vampire mythology it pretty much worked, but the pacing is so off that you are left in some scenes itching to hit the fast forward button. I would have liked to see a total gothic take on things played off against the modern Vampire lifestyle. That could of worked in my humble opinion. Not a movie I'll bother revisiting anytime soon, but I did manage to stay awake throughout it's running time.

I picked up my review copy of Thirst in a Vampire three movie package from the good folks at Umbrella Entertainment. Not only did I get Thirst but I also got Nosferatu and Vampire Lesbos. At $20 odd bucks that's good value for money in my book of woes. Umbrella do have a stand alone version of Thirst for those that didn't note the "lesbos" word.

I would recommend Thirst to readers who like off beat horror flicks, but if after a Vampire outing then this isn't the movie for you. There's some good concepts going down, but unfortunately they are muddied by poor script development and a movie that loses touch with what it is trying to achieve. If after something at the dairy then lap it up, personally I'd rather hang out for something else in Vampire from Down Under.

ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...

An okay vampire flick that takes itself way to seriously.