Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Thirsty Dead - review

Director: Terry Becker

Release Date: 1974

Contains spoilers

This was the movie I recently downloaded from fightmares, and many thanks to them for making this available – it saved me from ever buying it.

What can I say about this except – wow, cheese! The film starts off with the abduction of four girls. Claire (Judith McConnell) is the first we see abducted; she is a cage dancer and is taken from her dressing room, just after we hear a news report about girls being taken from the streets of Manila.

The next is Laura (Jennifer Billingsley), she is abducted by monks. They lead her through the sewer to a boat with another girl, Anne (Fredricka Meyers) in it. The boat is paddled away and then they are in the jungle. They pull ashore and put the two girls with Claire and the fourth abductee Bonnie (Chiqui Da Rosa). Claire seems quite excited by the prospect, especially when the monks strip to loincloths, and actually flirts with her captors.

On route through the jungle Anne cuts herself and the wound is completely healed by pushing a leaf against it. Later Bonnie freaks out and the same leaf is used to subdue her. They are taken to a cult hideout and the cult are, of course vampires. The vampires worship Rau (I’m guessing at the spelling) who is basically a speaking head in a red Perspex box who died some 500 years before. They are given eternal youth by drinking the blood of young women mixed with the magic leaf, we also find out later that there is a "ring of age" around their jungle hide out that they cannot pass or they will age rapidly. It is also clear that they like to wear pastels. Indeed their clothes, especially when high priest Baru (John Considine) puts on his light pastel blue cloak with very high collar (check the picture at the head of the review), reminded me of something out of original Star Trek or perhaps Logan’s Run – as I said, cheese! The vampires bleed their victims by cutting their throats and gathering their blood to mix with the magic leaf, healing the wounds with the leaf to keep their victims alive in order to repeat feed – no fangs and no biting.

Laura is separated from the others. It is their fate to feed the vampires, but she has a destiny as they have a picture that looks like her (ooh, cliché), plus I shouldn’t forget that the head in the box said her name. She refuses their offer of immortality and with the help of a hag (more on her later) the four girls escape. They are, of course captured by Baru. Five minutes later he, having fallen in love with Laura, helps them escape again, sacrificing himself by passing through the ring of age. I say them escape, but Claire does not - having decided she wants to be a vampire (and having completely forgotten that they haven’t offered her the potion and just used her as food) she runs off and manages to fall into a pit and die.

One nice idea in the film was the hag. She seemed to be the tame hag and there were more, kept locked up, who were more desiccated still. They had long withered hands with talons and were covered with open sores. The hags were the victims after a few years with the vampires, all bar the tame one kept hidden because the vampires found their ugliness disturbing. I liked the idea of the rapid aging of the victims however.

As I hope I have put across, this film is pure cheese. Even the acting was pure cheese, there was a scene with Laura running through tunnels that I am sure was only there as a masterclass in how not to act terror and panic – it was a moment of pantomime melodrama that was almost without peer. It is not one I could ever recommend you buy but a free watch is worth it for a laugh. For a score, however, I can only give this 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here

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