On October 28, 2008, Synapse Films will be releasing several cult titles on DVD that had been previously made available by Elite Entertainment. One such title is Thirst, an unusual pseudo-vampire flick made in Australia back in 1978. If you haven't caught this movie before, and you're a horror and / or vampire fan, then Thirst is definitely a title you'll want to check out.
Thirst has a relatively simple storyline. Career woman Kate Davis (Chantal Contouri) is abducted by a cult 70,000 strong of modern day vampires. It turns out that Kate is a descendent of Elizabeth Bathory, a historical figure who bears a heavy weight on vampire legends. This cult runs a slick facility that harvests and processes "clean" blood from young, entranced people they've housed as cattle (the images of vapid, blank-eyed teens are reminiscent of a similar facility used for organ transplantation in 1979's Parts: The Clonus Horror). This cult seems obsessed with turning Kate over to their bloodsucking ways and go to great lengths to brainwash her over to their side due to her lineage.
Admittedly, the large blood farm populated by many human beings who are slowly drained of blood is preposterous even by horror movie standards. Still, the sterile facility and usage of people as cattle make for some striking imagery. Also striking is a very lengthy drug-induced series of hallucinatory nightmares Kate has during her brainwashing in the middle of the film. Of particular interest is a sequence where Kate is trapped in a house that's literally falling to pieces around her. It doesn't do much to advance the plot, true, but it is kind of cool-looking and effective.
Another interesting aspect of Thirst is its take on vampires. These vampires are very modern-day (in a 1970s way), dressed in suits and business attire. Many are doctors or other professionals. They retain a hint of the supernatural: their eyes glow red when they're about to partake in bloodletting. However, they're more grounded in reality than the traditional vampire. They walk around in daylight with no problem, they can see themselves in a mirror, and they lack fangs (though they ceremoniously use jeweled fangs at times).
The cast is pretty good in this as well. Chantal Contouri is fairly solid as the lead, though her screaming can grate at times. Industry veteran Henry Silva and David Hemmings, who played the lead in Dario Argento's giallo classic Deep Red, are effective as rival doctors at odds over how to win over Kate's allegiance.
The premise may be outlandish, but I found Thirst to be an entertaining period piece offering some interesting visuals and ideas. Recommended for classic fright flick fans.
Thirst is given an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen presentation. There's some film dirt noticeable throughout the movie, but otherwise, the movie looked in remarkably good shape considering its age, with nice colors and sharp detail.
Not counting the commentary track, Thirst has three soundtracks to choose from. The default is the original English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono presentation. Of course, this track is limited by its nature, but as far as mono tracks go, this one sounded pretty good. Dialogue and Brian May's excellent score are well-mixed.
Speaking of Brian May, a separate audio track contains an isolated music score, which not surprisingly is also Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. Rounding out the audio tracks is a dubbed Spanish language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono presentation.
No subtitle options appeared available.
The most noteworthy extra on Thirst is a feature-length commentary by director Rod Hardy and producer Antony I. Ginnane. A random sampling suggests it's an active and informative audio track.
Synapse advertises Cast & Filmmaker Biographies on the DVD's back art cover, which is a little misleading as what's really on the disc are a series of filmographies for various cast and crew.
A theatrical trailer (that's anamorphic widescreen) and three television spots for Thirst are included. All have a copyright scroll for New Line Cinema, which I thought was interesting. I'm guessing they had original distribution rights.
A Photo Gallery has a self-paced collection of images from the movie and its soundtrack CD, which is unusual for a photo gallery on DVD.
While admittedly dated and patently absurd, Thirst is still an interesting 1979 Australian vampire oddity with an unusual storyline and sometimes striking imagery. Recommended.