Director – Rod Hardy, Screenplay – John Pinkney, Producer – Antony I. Ginnane, Photography – Vincent Monton, Music – Brian May, Special Effects – Chris Murray & Conrad C. Rothmann, Art Direction – Jon Dowding. Production Company – FG Films/New South Wales Film Corporation/Victoria Film Corporation.
Chantal Contouri (Kate Davis), David Hemmings (Dr Eric Fraser), Shirley Cameron (Mrs Barker), Rod Mullinar (Derek), Max Phipps (Hodge), Henry Silva (Dr Gauss), Rosie Sturgess (Lori)
Kate Davis is abducted from her home and flown to The Farm, a secret enclave in the countryside. Her kidnappers introduced themselves as the Hyma Brotherhood – Hyma being the Greek word for blood – who believe that the drinking of human blood conveys youth and immortality on them. At The Farm, they keep humans as docile cattle, draining their blood with cattle milking machines to feed upon, something the humans regard as a great honour. There Kate learns that she is a direct descendant of Elizabeth Bathory. However, she refuses to accept her birthright as a vampire that the Brotherhood are determined she will inherit.
This Australian entry is one of the more interesting and unusual variants on the vampire film. It was the first attempt to place vampirism into the scientific arena and became the most interesting stab at doing such at least until the arrival of tv’s Ultraviolet (1998) and the British film Blood (2000).
Particularly striking is the film’s likening of vampirism to cattle herding with images of victims being directed about the farming complex by anonymous loud-speakers, herded into pens and hooked up to automatic pumping machines. In one resonant image, a group of visiting foreign dignitaries are shown through the plant by an escort who describes how the plant was set up to avoid blood diseases like hepatitis and malaria, all of which is delivered in the perfect parroting of the detached anonymity of a tour-guide. In fact, these images are so effective that when Thirst does try to rely on more classical vampire imagery – fangs and optically enhanced glowing eyes – it seems to be slipping back into a cheesier type of film.
Director Rod Hardy sets up and sustains the suspense very nicely, particularly during Chantal Contouri’s escape from the Farm and eventual recapture. The dream sequences with showers filled with blood and drumsticks flowing with blood after being bitten are striking but eventually, as with the long sequence of an entire house collapsing in on Chantal Contouri, leaves one ending up wondering what connection it has to the rest of the plot.
Director Rod Hardy went on to direct in US television and has made the odd other genre work including the tv mini-series remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997) with Michael Caine and the Marvel Comics adapted tv pilot Nick Fury, Agent of Shield (1998) starring David Hasselhoff.