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Thirst (1979)

Director: Rod Hardy
Tagline: “The ancient evil of vampirism is now a modern industry.”
Plot: Kate (Chantal Contouri) is just an ordinary, modern Australian woman going about a perfectly ordinary, modern Australian woman’s life: caring for her cat, hanging out in a room filled with wicker shelves, and having champagne-fueled sex with a mustachioed man named Derek in front of a roaring fire.

But Contouri isn’t just an ordinary, modern Australian woman. She’s actually a baroness, the descendant of an ancient, aristocratic bloodline. And while she apparently isn’t aware of that, a shadowy organization known as The Brotherhood certainly is, and they make recruiting her their top priority. They don’t even bother being nice about it. Why? Because they’re vampires, as suggested by a scene in which they substitute a carton of human blood for an innocent-looking pint of milk, as discovered by Contouri’s equally unsuspecting cat: 

As if that weren’t unsubtle enough, The Brotherhood then kidnaps her and takes her to their retreat, a bucolic little compound that’s also home to the human “blood-cows” they use as their food source. Barbaric, you say? Far from it. As one of the Brotherhood explains, they’re “simply a superior race of people who, over the centuries, have proved that the drinking of the vital human essence confers youth, power. It’s the ultimate aristocratic act.”

Somehow, this does little to assuage Contouri’s misgivings. So the Brotherhood—whose ranks include Blow-Up star David Hemmings—spend much of the rest of the film trying to trick her into drinking human blood by locking her in a dungeon with nothing else to drink, leading her to a shower where the plumbing flows with blood, and at one point, making her hallucinate that she’s making love to Mustachioed Derek, while feeding her a chicken leg that’s actually human flesh.

It’s like the cruelest sorority rush week ever, combined with the final days of the Donner party.

Key scenes: The modern vampire has nothing against industrialized farming. In one scene, a bunch of out-of-towners check out the blood-cow harvesting by visiting “the dairy.”

But it isn’t all painless bloodsucking, as Contouri discovers when she sees an old granny getting some blood the old-fashioned way after a secret ceremony.

Can easily be distinguished by: Know any other movies with blood-cows?

Sign that it was made in 1979: “Hello? You’re calling from the future and you’re telling me a one-piece rotary phone with the dial on the bottom will look ridiculous in 30 years? I don’t believe you.”

Timeless message: No matter how you dress it up, vampirism is a nasty business.

Memorable quote: A doubter on the effectiveness of converting the unwilling to a blood-drinking lifestyle: “[We’ll] probably end up spending a fortune on her and achieving nothing. Except perhaps drive her insane.”