People are being killed and drained from their blood by a mysterious organization known as "The Brotherhood". The blood is being used to produce a new milk product to give people blood-thirst, to turn everyone into vampires. "The Brotherhood" discovers a distant relative to the infamous Countess Erzsébet Báthory and abducts her to have her join the organization. But she's not willing to give herself over, and escapes. Now she's on the run with "The Brotherhood" quickly following.
Australian director Rod Hardy isn't exactly a name that rings many bells, and there's a reason for that. For us, there's simply not a lot to tie the name to. Sure, he has directed episodes of many shows we've watched - but except for certain cases you don't remember who directs a random episode of a show. He is mainly a TV show director, and the times he ventured into feature films it has been heavy on the western or heavy on the drama. For the most part. Some sci-fi, some action, but "Thirst" is his only horror movie. Though with his experiences in all the other genres, it's not surprising that "Thirst" stands out quite a bit as a vampire movie and a horror movie.
Kate, A descendant of Countess Erzsébet Báthory, the 18th century vampire, is kidnapped by an organization called "The Brotherhood". They drain innocent people from blood and produce a sort of blood milk from it, which is then distributed to the people in hopes to turn each and every one into a vampire. Kate's forced to join the organization, but upon her refusal she's admitted to their clinic, where they perform experiments on her to brainwash her into agreeing to join. Kate does indeed get a taste for blood, but her mind is still set on her principles and humanity, and she refuses to join - and escapes.
"Thirst" has me conflicted. At times it has a lot to offer, while at other times it seems to be to focused on unnecessary babble. The movie in itself is pretty original for a vampire movie, especially in the late '70s, and that's one of the main things that keeps this feeling fresh still today. But there are moments when it just doesn't intrigue as much as it drags out. The parts that makes this good, such as the idea of them producing the blood product, or Kate's escape (which I enjoyed a lot for no clear reason), is what makes the movie worth tracking down though (something which Severin has made fairly easy now with this combo DVD/blu-ray release). Not to mention my absolute favorite scene of the movie, where Kate is forced to drink blood after the room begins to literally move.
The clinic aspect of the movie made me think of the 1 year younger "Night of the Hunted" by Jean Rollin - except his movie wasn't quite as exciting, nor does Jean Rollin ever portray vampires in as interesting light as Rod Hardy and John Pinkney do in "Thirst". Purely on an atmospheric level, however, I see plenty of common ground between this and Jean Rollin's above mention flick, and that's not a bad thing. "Thirst" is supposedly also inspired by "Soylent Green", which isn't too hard to accept considering the use of food products. I'd say you get equal parts gothic horror and clinical horror, with brief additions of sci-fi in factory settings. Everything reeks of the '70s, it has everything you expect from the gothic horrors from the time, just done slightly differently. It's a good thing if you enjoy that style, but a horrible thing if you don't.
If you count tanks filled with blood, blood showers and even blood in milk cartons as bloody, then this does quite a splash. The bites are also offering more than just two holes with a stream of blood from them - the sucker always leaves with a face covered in it. All that said, it might have large amounts of blood (in all kinds of containers), but the movie itself isn't unusually gory or bloody. Though I always appreciate a woman bathing in blood!
"Thirst" wasn't fantastic, but yet it won me over by having a fun take on the vampire plot. It also offered some lovely trashiness and at times a few creepy, oddball scenes. Looking at today's vampire movies, it's rare to see it mixed in well with sci-fi - you're more likely to get something like "Daybreakers", which is just too much for me. "Thirst" is a subtle middle-ground, which doesn't push the movie quite into pure sci-fi, nor is it ever 100% horror. Whatever it is, it's not a superb horror classic, but it is quite enjoyable.