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Thirst (1979)

September 22nd, 2009 by unkle lancifer · 8 Comments

A while back a friend of mine who is always right about everything told me to watch the 1979 Australian vampire flick THIRST. We happened to have a VHS copy at the video store I worked at so I brought it home, threw it into the gizmo and got about five minutes in before shutting it off. I was not in the mood, plus the tape looked like, what’s the word?…crap. Flash forward a decade or so and I stumbled upon a used DVD of THIRST for a mere $5.99. I picked it up because I have a horrible hoarding problem and frequently imagine a desperate snowed-in scenario that will never occur to justify my unnecessary purchases. Well I wasn’t so much snowed in as bored out of my skull the other night and I decide to give THIRST another chance and boy I’m glad I did. On DVD, the film is a looker and as others have said before me, one of the most original vampire films ever made.

Dear KATIE HOLMES, remember when I told you that if you just waited long enough the perfect role for you would emerge? Well, get Tommy to buy the rights for this movie and get it remade stat. It’s about a chick named Kate who finds herself the prisoner of a diabolical cult who use human beings as livestock (in this case it’s blood rather than moola that is siphoned!) Her every attempt at escape is thwarted and eventually the gal starts flipping her lid, you can pull that off right? What’s that you say? You’d rather redo a movie about a woman terrorized by tiny men (WHO’S AFRAID OF THE DARK?) O.K. that makes sense too…

Putting snarky insults towards people I’ve never met aside, you get your fair share of pointy teeth within THIRST, but the emphasis is more on our heroine’s psychological state as she tries to avoid submission to the cult’s methodic conditioning. As a direct descendent of Elizabeth Bathory, Kate’s dormant “thirst” for blood is inbred and the cult believes it requires only a bit of nudging to emerge. As if tempting an on-the-wagon alcoholic, “The Brotherhood” begins spiking her liquid intake with the red stuff; hallucinations and overlapping reality warping dream states are the result. This is where the film excels, the scenes involving Kate’s paranoia and mental deterioration would make ROMAN POLANSKI proud. One particular bit that involves a crumbling wall stands as a highly effective visual metaphor for the interior war Kate seems born to loose.

THIRST has about five too many endings and might have been better served concluding before it does, but when it’s working it’s strong stuff. Direction by television mainstay ROD HARDY (who directed a similarly themed episode of the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA re-imagining entitled “The Farm”) is brisk and forthright where it needs to be, yet smoothly transitions into the artsy and surreal without breaking a sweat. The performances (including a bit part by frequent bad guy HENRY SILVA) are surprisingly restrained considering the subject matter. As dated as the film can tend to be (especially in the technology department) it’s apparent that all involved took the material seriously. If you think you’ve seen it all in regard to our bloodsucking friends you definitely need to give THIRST a chance. By sparing us the clichés and concentrating on the psychological it stands up better than most vamp flicks half its age.

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 PinchyNo Gravatar // Sep 22, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    How timely…I just watched this for the first time this weekend.  I’ve been brushing up on my Australian new wave in preparation for the release of  ‘Not Quite Hollywood’ next month.

  • 2 FatherOfTearsNo Gravatar // Sep 22, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Ah!  This was on cable back in the early 80’s when pops decided to get with the program and GET cable.  The scene that stuck in my mind was when Kate got the bloodthirst when her friend was over.  She tried to quench it with milk which, if I remember, made her hurl!  She then got her “false fangs” had her eyes glow red and she went for the kill!  I too saw this on DVD last year.  Not bad.  Yes, that halucination scene in the room with the walls cracking was Polanski influenced.  Think “Repulsion”.  Alas, poor Kate was repulsed when she discovered that her chicken leg picnic lunch was a bit “juicy”.  So were some viewers!

  • 3 micksterNo Gravatar // Sep 22, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    I also saw this late-night sometime in the 80s. I thought it was good. I remember the shower scene vividly. Creepy!

  • 4 smidget28No Gravatar // Sep 23, 2009 at 4:37 am

    I guess I have to add this to my netflix queue – WHEN IT’S WORKING AGAIN!! SHEESH!

  • 5 bluegrasslassNo Gravatar // May 26, 2010 at 8:09 am

    I think you mean ‘siphoned’ not ‘ciphered’. ‘Ciphered’ means “making into code”

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // May 26, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Thanks bluegrasslass! You’re right!

  • 7 vhsparrow@gmail.comNo Gravatar // Nov 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Katie Holmes? I was actually thinking Juliet Landau – daughter of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain of Mission:Impossible and Space 1999 fame. She’s already a bit of a ringer for Chantal Contouri.

    The only question is whether Landau would want to continue her vampire tenure since she’s already spent a considerable portion of her career playing Drusilla on Joss Whedon’s Buffy and Angel.

    Another good casting choice might be Angela Bettis, however the writing would be key here — as soon as the writer, John Pinkney created the vampire society, he didn’t know what to do with it, much less where to take it. (See: Blade, Underworld, Twilight, Ann Rice)

  • 8 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Sep 14, 2011 at 11:14 am

    VHS, I was just making a joke about the subject matter when I mentioned Holmes. I don’t think she should star in anything (unless they make a new Stepford Wives.)

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