Thirst is an Ozploitation flick featured in “Not Quite Hollywood”, the informative yet somewhat uncritical love-in documentary from down under.
Made in the late 70s and directed by Rod Hardy, whose career still seems to be going strong directing episodes of popular American television shows such as Burn Notice and Battlestar Galactica and less popular ones such as the awful Dollhouse, it looks to be Rods first big feature. The screenplay is by John Pinkney whose career hence has been mostly literary, and is probably best represented by the man himself on his Goodreads profile.
The plot is as follows: Kate, an orphaned Australian 20-something professional, has been selected for initiation by a group known as the Brotherhood, describing themselves as aristocrats who have discovered the ultimate in serf piety – why settle for the sweat of their brow when you can have the blood in their veins? Kate is the unwitting descendent of an ancient aristocratic family, and the Brotherhood have decided it’s time to bring her bloodline back in to the fold. Kate’s already got some subconscious inkling of her regal background, as when she laps up the remnants of the pint of blood the Brotherhood have left inside a milk carton. Incidentally, surreptitiously swapping out a carton of milk for a carton of blood is a terrible plan – best case scenario presumably being that she pours it on her cornflakes. That aside, the few plotting issues there are with the movie mostly centre around Kate’s motivation as she ums and ahs as to whether to be a blood thirsty sucker.
Thirst makes it clear it is trying to subvert the common horror tropes by starting its main character in a coffin inside a hay strewn medieval dungeon, before pulling back the curtains and revealing the purpose for this stereotypical gothic retreat – an attempt to brainwash our plucky young heroine into playing Nosferatu by subjecting her to exactly the kind of hammer horror experience we’ve come to expect.
The plot is ambitious, getting to where a conventional movie arc would end in the first half hour, the second half consisting mostly of a rather good series of surreal dream-like moments including an excellent scene with a nameless, unseen beast.
This section of the movie is by far the most engrossing, even if it repeats itself a bit and unfortunately after returning from its surreal trip doesn’t quite pull off the spectacular ending it needs, deciding instead to go all James Bond.
The movie has a lot to like with strong performances from Chantal Contouri in the lead role and, surprisingly, David Hemmings (looking a little rounder in the face then he did in Deep Red) as her aristocratic love interest but comes across a little disjointed and ultimately the non-dream sequence farm sets don’t quite manage to do justice to its ambitious ideas of portraying vampirism as a modern factory farm conciet for the aristocratic. Saying that, you’ll likely be too engrossed in its dream-like atmosphere to care, and I’d recommend it on the basis of the dream sequences alone. It’s highly enjoyable and a well worth watching piece of disposable cinema.