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Thirst (1979)

Reviewed By Stephen Groenewegen
Posted 08/14/03 13:54:28

"Quenchless"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

Equal measures of glossiness and silliness, and a handful of gruesomely effective shocks, mark Thirst as the work of producer Tony Ginnane. It’s an improvement on the lacklustre Snapshot, also from 1979, but nowhere near as much taut fun as the previous year’s Patrick.

Thirst was designed partly as a star-making showcase for the glamorous Chantal Contouri. She plays an advertising executive preyed upon by a would-be suave and aristocratic secret “Brotherhood” of blood drinkers. Seems Contouri’s bloodline (sorry) makes her a baroness amongst the international jet-setting vampire crowd.

The perks of membership appear to be living on a “blood dairy” farm, amongst the helpless pasty youths (“cattle”) who are regularly forced to donate pints of the red stuff. Which explains their weakened state, but not the drab white smocks (which would surely show up every stain and be a bitch to launder). Of course poor Contouri’s horrified at the prospect, but the Brotherhood have ways of encouraging her to accept her destiny.

Unfortunately for Contouri, the script mainly requires her to look frightened, revolted or pluckily determined. Thirst never led to great things for the actress, but she’s had a sustained career and is still acting in her fifties. The imported stars recruited by Ginnane this time around are a bored looking David Hemmings as a kindly fanged psychologist and Henry Silva. Shirley Cameron from Number 96 seems to be auditioning for a Queen Bitch role on Prisoner. It’s nice to see Robert Thompson, who made a strong impression as the silent Patrick, given some dialogue.

Writer John Pinkney’s premise isn’t enough to sustain the film. The ideas - and budget - run out about halfway through. A hallucinatory runaround through Contouri’s psyche is neither convincing nor sufficiently nightmarish and struck me as padding. The work of director Rod Hardy and editor Philip Reid begins to fall apart soon after, and the important final scenes have a confusing half-finished quality. It isn’t entirely clear what’s going on.

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