• Thirst (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)

    Thirst (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)
    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: March 11th, 2014.
    Director: Rod Hardy
    Cast: Chantal Contouri, Max Phipps, Henry Silva, Rod Mullinar, David Hemmings, Shirley Cameron
    Year: 1979
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    The Movie:

    Thirst tells the story of Kate Davis (Chantal Contouri), who is, unbeknownst to her, a distant relative of the infamous Countess Elizabeth Bathory. A strange cult of powerful vampires is operating in her area and thanks to her bloodline, they decide they need her – so they kidnap her. They take her back to their hideout, which is literally a farm where humans are raised as blood cows and used solely as food for the vampires. They even transfer the blood into cartons and ship it out to hungry vampires all over the world – clever, in a way!

    Kate soon learns about her unusual heritage but doesn’t want anything to do with the cult who is quite insistent that she join their ranks. It’s then that the cultists decide to use all manner of unusual tactics to convince her, but Kate’s boyfriend has noticed that she’s gone and is starting to wonder where on earth she could be…

    Despite some pacing problems and a couple of slow spots, Thirst is a pretty enjoyable ‘modern’ (at least by the standards of the year in which it was made) take on the vampire film. Helping things considerably is the presence of David Hemmings one Dr. Frasier, though cult favorite Henry Silva is unfortunately given little to do outside of standing around and looking ominous in his part as Dr. Gauss. Chantal Contouri is quite good as the female lead, looking quite pretty throughout the film and delivering a reasonably believable performance that carries the picture effectively.

    The film also tries some new ideas out as far as the vampires are concerned. Aside from farming their food, they use removable fangs so that they only need to wear them during feeding time, thus allowing them to blend in more with the common folk. These vampires have adapted to the modern world and have managed to use technology to their advantage to make their lives simpler, much like the rest of us – this isn’t something you normally see in vampire films, at least you didn’t back in the seventies when the shadow of the Hammer and Universal Dracula pictures hung heavy over horror cinema and before you have films like Underworld or even The Lost Boys bringing the mythos to the modern day.

    A couple of stand out gothic scenes, such as a surreal and almost Bava-esque nightmare sequence that plays out in Kate’s home, lend the film plenty of very welcome atmosphere while the score from Brian May contributes to the picture’s quirky tone. The film isn’t as violent or bloody as the cover art might lead you to believe, in fact most of the violence occurs off screen, but it’s got plenty of atmosphere and it tells a decent story making it very much worth a look for fans of vampire films or Australian exploitation and horror pictures.


    Thirst looks really nice on Blu-ray in this AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from the original negative and framed at 2.45.1 widescreen. The previous DVD releases from Elite and then Synapse looked fine when first issued but this new transfer is a marked improvement. There’s a lot more detail here and the colors look far more natural (though much of the film relies on a very brown, Earth tone look). Black levels and shadow detail are both noticeably improved while skin tones look warm and natural but never too hot or too pink. The elements used were obviously in a great shape too as there’s nothing to complain about in terms of print damage.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack isn’t going to blow you away but it certainly gets the job done without any issues. Dialogue stays clean and clear and everything is properly balanced throughout. An optional Spanish language Mono track is also included though there are no subtitles or closed captions provided. A lossless track would have been ideal here, but that didn’t happen.

    Carried over from the long out of print Elite DVD is the audio commentary track from director Rod Hardy and producer Antony Ginnane (who also produced Escape 2000, Strange Behavior, and plenty of other bad ass Ausploitation movies). The pair spend quite a bit of time talking about the various cast members who were employed in the production, telling stories about what it was like working with them and about how they got them on board for this project. They also talk about some of the complexities that are part of the Australian filmmaking industry, about the effects, and about some of the stunts that are scene in the film. It’s a pretty interesting talk and a good way to enjoy the film a second time through.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s original theatrical trailer, a trio of television spot and the film’s soundtrack appearing as an isolated score on an alternate audio track. Menus and chapter selection are also included.

    The Final Word:

    A flawed but enjoyable and interesting take on the vampire film, Severin has done a nice job bringing this quirky slice of Australian cult/horror to Blu-ray for the first time. Though there aren’t any new extras here and the lossy audio will irk some, but the transfer is strong and the movie holds up well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!