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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
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  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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  • Audio commentary
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  • 3 TV spot
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Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 92 mins . M15+ . PAL


The vampire theme. It’s been done.

However, here in Thirst, a cheesy Australian film from 1978, it is treated in a different vein (aha ha). It seems that vampires aren’t all they’re rumoured to be. They don’t sport fangs and all that stuff, they’re just regular people numbering around 70,000 around the world who drink blood. Fresh blood. But, there’s a problem. Their bloodline (no pun this time) is dying out and they need fresh blood (yawn) to freshen it up a bit. They track down a woman, Kate Davis, who is the sole remaining descendant of Elizabeth Bathory, Queen of the Undead or something.

"Don’t feel sorry for him… it’s the highest service a prisoner can render… to be exsanguinated… drained"

Kidnapping her, they attempt to brainwash her into joining their perverse organisation – an organisation that keep scores of humans prisoner for use as 'blood cows'. These blood cows are regularly ‘milked’ of blood and it is sold and exported to the rest of the world’s vampire population. When Kate sees this she naturally rebels and won’t submit to their brainwashing. With the help of a subversive doctor, she tries to escape and inform the world, but the organisation fight back by capturing her boyfriend Derek and threatening him with a good draining should she not comply.

For an Australian film of the era this truly isn’t so bad. The costumes and such have even managed to survive the years. The whole film feels a lot like the science fiction of the era, resembling a brief look into the not-too-distant future, though the film is set in the time of shooting. There are plenty of what would have been high-tech gadgets included too to make the film feel ultra-modern (as it no doubt did for 1978), but fast forward 26 years and what is old is retro now. I haven’t seen one of those free-standing phones with the dial on the bottom of the handset in years…

Special effects are pretty sharp even by today’s standards and there are some moments amidst the brainwashing that genuinely look ahead of their time effects-wise. Add that to a newish take on the theme and some fairly able performances and you have a relatively good Australian classic transferred in pretty exacting style.


Delivered in the monster (haha) cinema aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with anamorphic bloodlust, the film looks awesome. While some use has been made of the full widescreen, it mostly gets used inside the farm or in wide shots of the castle/mansion. Film artefacts are here of course, but there’s really nothing too nasty lurking about. Colours are okay, though we get some glows coming of whites, while blacks are true and shadow detail is pretty good. Flesh tones are well developed and range from deep African right through to just-drained-of-blood white. All look great.


Sadly we just have a Dolby Digital stereo dealie here, but this is entirely adequate and mostly well balanced. Sometimes the dialogue gets a little low, but there’s little else to dominate it. Brian May (not of supergroup Queen, the ABC TV band one) electrifies with his scintillating score that is necessarily overly dramatic and choral at times.

Dialogue is well-spoken and, although lower at times, is still easily understood (which is handy as there are no subtitles). There are also plenty of Aussie accents that appear to have had an attempt at masking in some regards, but being the best accent in the world, it’s just too unmaskable. Sound effects are good and adding to that SF theme I noted before, there’s a general and frequent electronic thrumming that gives the essence of high-tech working behind the action. It makes Thirst appear way more techie than it actually is and it works well in the film’s favour.


Just a couple to get through here, but they will add bags of interest to avid fans of this sort of film. The audio commentary from director Rod Hardy and producer Antony I. Ginnane is fairly interesting, though there are some interminable pauses within as the fellas enjoy a film they obviously haven’t watched in several years. They speak about the style of the time, what they could scoot past censors and the insider tricks on the film’s special effects and locations. Quite interesting at times, but also slightly irritating at others as the obvious gets stated once or twice too often.

A Contemporary Blend is a modern interview with producer Ginnane and he adds to what he talks of in the AC. He occasionally repeats himself as well, but that’s okay. It’s still fairly interesting.

The trailer is next, running for 1:38 in stereo with an unenhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This is followed by TV spots in 4:3 (of course) that are in a fairly decrepit state.

Then follows an image gallery of 22 pics including vintage poster art which is always cool to check out.

Finally there are more trailers for other Ginnane films in Turkey Shoot, Dead Kids, Harlequin, Patrick, Snapshot and The Survivor.


I expected less from this film than I got and while it’s still firmly ensconced in 1978 and the filmmaking of the time, it is marginally above average regarding some of its contemporaries. Performances are fairly solid and the special effects are quite good given their age and the budget involved and they hold up well today.

While it’s not the greatest Australian film ever, it’s still a fairly interesting take on the vampire theme and one that will find interest among those who enjoy this sort of ‘classy schlock’ horror film. There’s even a twist in the end, of sorts. Try a rental first if you like.

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      And I quote...
    "A relatively good Australian classic transferred in pretty exacting style…"
    - Jules Faber
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