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Thirst (1979) #FilmReview #UnRatedMagazine

Studio: Severin
Theatrical Release: September 28th, 1979
Blu-Ray Release: March 11th, 2014
Rating: R
Directed by Ron Hardy
Review by Craig Sorensen

Coming in close to the end of the ‘70s vampire film revival (along with fellow ’79 vampire alumni Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht and Badham’s Dracula), a film like Thirst would need to make some drastic changes to the bloodsucking formula in order to stand out from the pack. Thankfully Thirst isn’t afraid to play revisionist in it’s treatment of the tired old tropes.

Kate Davis (Chantal Contouri) seems to be living an ideal life. However, unbeknownst to her, she just happens to be a long lost descendant of the notorious Countess Elizabeth Bathory. And she’s just been targeted to join a mysterious cult of rich tycoons who believe they are vampires. Kate obviously doesn’t think that thats a good idea of course so they kidnap her and take her to their complex in the country where they literally bleed the young underclass dry. The more that Kate tries to fight off the cult’s advances, the harder they try to ‘convince’ her to join. Psychologist Dr. Fraser (David Hemmings of Eye of the Devil) is brought in to supervise her treatments. Will he be able to turn her to accepting her fate or will his hippocratic oath get in the way? Also, look out for some Henry Silva action.

Thirst stands in stark contrast with most of it’s ‘70s vampire brethren. Stripped of it’s romantic, gothic trappings, the film is free to get right at the underlying themes present in most vampire films. The aristocracy (Counts, Countesses and Barons) seduces and then literally feeds off of the underclasses. Updated to the 1970s, the aristocracy is replaced by rich, corporate CEO types. They keep the young too doped up to care that they are being drained of their life. They keep the rest in line with the ‘promise’ that they too could be selected to join the elite ranks of the vampires. It’s a not-too-subtle class parable of course. While most of the time Dracula is presented as being pure evil, there’s still a fair bit of romanticizing going on, despite the obvious themes. It’s why people are still dressing like doofuses in velvet jackets and bad makeup. The vampires of Thirst are portrayed in an almost mundane manner. They have boring meetings just like real corporate lackeys. The blood farm is run much like any factory farm, even shipping their blood out in milk cartons to other like minded individuals.

The film is beautifully shot by cinematographer Vincent Monton who also shot Long Weekend and Road Games. The film makes expert use of the scope frame, helping create a paranoid mood throughout. The film is also scored by Brian May of Mad Max fame. May also worked on the score of Road Games. The late ‘70s and early ‘80s were really a fertile time for Australian genre filmmaking with the aforementioned Road Games, Long Weekend and Mad Max being standouts. Thirst stands right there with those pessimistic films. I don’t know what was happening down under during that time but even the lesser known films like Harlequin or The Survivor are worth a look.

Thirst has been issued twice before on DVD, first by Elite and then by Synapse. Obviously Severin’s new Blu-Ray blows them all out of the water in terms of picture quality. Colors are much more vibrant here than in the previous transfers with flesh tones most noticeably improved. The black levels are much deeper here as well. Overall, this is a stellar looking transfer. The DTS-HD mono audio is much improved as well. The most substantial extra is a feature commentary from the film’s director Rod Hardy and producer Antony Ginnane. This was originally produced for the Elite disc and ported over here. You also get the original theatrical trailer, a few television spots and an isolated music score as an alternate audio track.

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Read the full story at UnRatedMagazine.com

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