Jeremy Kasten's The Thirst borrows quite heavily from films like Near Dark and Requiem for a Dream, and by "borrows quite heavily" what I actually mean is "steals quite blatantly." But at least the CFQ Films production team is honest about it: On the front of the DVD case is a quote that reads "Requiem for a Dream meets Near Dark." The source of the quote is CFQ Magazine.
Only Requiem for a Dream is a stunningly sober film, while The Thirst is overwhelmingly campy. And Near Dark is smart and fairly subtle, whereas The Thirst is very broad and frequently kind of silly. Still, there's something to be said for a fast-paced vampire flick that delivers the goods at a quick clip -- even if those "goods" were actually created by someone else.
Plot: A young stripper has cancer, but is also a vampire, so she stages her own suicide, leaving behind a bereaved boyfriend who catches a glimpse of the allegedly dead hottie and then pursues her into an underworld populated by a resoundingly evil vampire family that kills tons of people as the undead stripper and her devoted boyfriend try to "kick" the plasma habit by devouring dead cats. (That last section is supposed to be the "Requiem" part.)
So it's about 75% Near Dark (even down to the colorful vampire clan; Adam Baldwin gets the Bill Paxton role while Jeremy Sisto (toting around a really goofy accent) gets to be the Lance Henriksen patriarch), 25% Requiem for a Dream (even down to one piece of musical score that's almost a copy of Clint Mansell's now-classic theme), and 100% goofy all over the place. Had director Jeremy Kasten intended The Thirst to be taken seriously, I doubt he'd have had two of the clan members portrayed as feral vampire nurse lesbian freaks who communicate only by howl and growl.
So what to make of the small handful of scenes that are clearly meant to be taken seriously? Well, you laugh at 'em, of course. (There's one extended "vampire detox" scene between the two leads that's both stone-faced serious and drop-dead hilarious at the same time.) Fans of the gore-geysers should be well-entertained, because the vamp attacks in The Thirst are both frequent and ferocious. Some of the extra-splattery special effects are pretty impressive; others not so much.
The cast list boasts a handful of names that'll please the genre fans: In addition to the aforementioned Baldwin and Sisto (who's quietly becoming Mr. Horror), The Thirst also comes baring performances from Matt Keeslar, Erik Palladino, and Clare Kramer. Most of the actors seem to be having a little tongue-in-cheek fun with the material, but a few of 'em go overboard in wonderfully amusing fashion.
Despite all of the silly stuff, the two leads do manage to strike a strong chemistry together, and the flick deserves praise for never resting in one place for too long. It certainly isn't the most original vampire flick you'll ever see (far from it), but fans of the blood-soaked genre should be able squeeze some fun out of this one.
Video: It's a fairly solid anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer, but the flick's low budget shines through in most scenes. Plus it's a pretty grainy affair.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0. The movie actually has a very intrusive soundtrack (songs blaring in at random and such), but the audio quality isn't bad.
Extras: Co-writer/producer Mark Altman and composer Joe Kraemer contribute a feature-length audio commentary. Altman comandeers the track, but does dole out a lot of information as he chatters along.
You'll also find about 17 minutes of deleted scenes, a photo gallery, a DVD-ROM version of the screenplay, and a bunch of Starz! trailers.
It's a love story, a vampire flick, a gore-fest, a tragedy, and a comedy all in one. Plus it's got some familiar faces, a few truly outrageous scenes, and a short running time. If you're looking for cheesy B-movies on your next visit to Netflix, you could do worse. (Much worse.)