Synapse // 1979 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 15th, 2008
This ancient evil is now a modern industry.
And we're not talking about collectible trading card games based on Japanese cartoon characters.
Chantal Contouri stars as a mild-manned woman who has no idea she's part of a heritage of deranged bloodsuckers, nor revered by her fellow members of the vampire cult as the female Messiah. According to the prophecy, she's to marry the cult leader and participate in a disgusting blood ritual which translates into some sweet sanguine action for the rest of the Hyma Brotherhood.
Of course, Little Miss Prophecy is at first resistant to her dark destiny and does her best pushing back against the desires of the brotherhood. Even the sight of their sweet blood draining operation -- with loads of "donors" lined up in a sterile room, tapped, and oozing isn't enough to convince her that this is somehow a good idea. But these folks have a few more cards to play.
There are some interesting elements in Thirst and some damn fine Bad Guy Deaths, but this thing still chugs along at the speed of a Slinky. Most of the runtime is devoted to Chantal Contouri screaming her head off and Just Saying No to the tantalizing prospect of opening a vein in some poor sap's neck and gorging herself. That, combined with the relentless attempts-at-convincing by the boring leaders of the Hyma Brotherhood add to a slow, uphill start-up.
Things get a little more interesting, when the leaders seek alternative methods of persuasion, which focus less on articulate debate and more on emotionally traumatizing the crap out of their wannabe bride through the use of terrifying hallucinations and showerheads spewing blood and a fornication-by-the-lake fantasy.
If the first third is concerned with the reluctance of blood lady, and the second third is all about landing the deal, then, naturally, the final third deals with the fallout of embracing her dark heritage. If you were to chart the "bloody coolness" of the film with a line graph, the thing would bottom out at the beginning and gradually increase throughout the film's 93 minutes, until rising sharply and briefly in the homestretch with a pair of bodacious kills. Specifically, one of the evildoers of the Brotherhood ends up swimming around in a vat of blood, until she sinks to the bottom and we get a shot of her bloated corpse bobbing around within the red-colored syrupy substance that's standing in for real blood. The second is even better, when yet another evildoer falls from a helicopter and lands on some power-lines (neat stunt!) and fries for like 30 seconds.
Those are the highlights in the horror department, as Thirst is after more of the psychological terror than the gross-out. I think we're supposed to be seriously unsettled by the idea of this Brotherhood, their blood-drinking ways, and the nightmare they put our heroine through. But aside from the aforementioned fatalities, there's just not a lot to be excited about. Wow, she's tricked into drinking some blood from the mustached stud she just finished boinking. And her eyes light up when she bares her fangs! And look at her scream as the blood pours out of the shower. Okay, that part was kind of cool.
A fine-looking 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer from Synapse (as always) joins the original mono soundtrack, an audio commentary from director Rod Hardy and producer Antony Ginnane, TV spots, a photo gallery, bios, and an isolated music score.
A slightly-better-than-mediocre horror thriller from 1979 gets a slick DVD release. That's all I've got left to say about Thirst.
Not Guilty by a nose.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* TV Spots
* Photo Gallery
* Music Score