The Deepest Cuts is a weekly invitation into some of the sleaziest, goriest, most under-explored corners of horror and cult film online. Every title will be streamable and totally NSFW. Whether it’s a 1960s grindhouse masterpiece, something schlocky from the 90s, or hardcore horror from around the world, these films are guaranteed to shock, disturb, tickle, or generally blow your mind.
I hate to make generalizations, but having seen a number of amazing, totally fucked up horror movies from Australia, I can’t help but think there’s something up down under – and I’ll tell you right now, whatever it is, I’m into it. After watching 2009’s The Loved Ones (a viewing inspired by the 13 Most Disturbing Horror Movies of the Last 13 Years list) I was looking for some righteous Ozploitation to stream, and I found it, in spades, in Thirst.
Thirst is a “modern” take on the vampire legend that is totally and completely of the 1970s. Kate is a sweet young professional who finds herself plagued by nightmares and visions of blood where it shouldn’t be – such as the spilled milk carton at which her cat hungrily laps. Kidnapped by a group of bell-bottom-suit wearing men, Kate awakens to discover that she’s been transported to a commune-like facility where a cult of hematophages farm blood from zombie-like “volunteers” in order to maintain their youth and beauty. According to their mythology, Kate is the descendant of none other than blood-bath-taker-extraordinaire Elizabeth Bathory and must be transformed, voluntarily or not, into the bloodsucker she was always fated to be.
That such a facility should exist as-yet undetected, considering the number of victims it houses and its apparent command of the surrounding countryside, is of course highly improbable – but not nearly as improbable as the manner in which they attempt to convert Kate into one of their own. Injecting her with hallucinogens, they are somehow able to control her experience so as to best drive her insane in a way specifically aimed at turning her into a vampire. These are some of the best sequences of Thirst, in which the walls pulsate and fixtures melt and attack Kate amidst a psychological attack/disintegration reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965).
The “higher” pretensions of the film make it particularly interesting; though its style and playful hints of the supernatural make it an Oz-giallo of sorts, the science fiction angle is explicitly inspired by Soylent Green (1973), a film intended both as entertainment and social critique. The cult itself, with its effete presentation, gold-dipped rituals, and dynastic aims, represents an attempt to add some class consciousness to this latter-day interpretation of vampire lore. Lead actress Chantal Contouri’s performance is especially effective and memorable; the pathos as she calls out to her housekeeper for help is straight devastating.
The violence is all fairly tasteful and sanitary, a quality that works well with the set-up – this film is much more about the interior life of one cursed woman than about body count. But the style and rhythm is to die for. If you haven’t watched Body Melt or Wake in Fright, let Thirst be your slightly more subtle, artistically-inclined yet fittingly bizarre introduction to Aussie horror.
You can find Thirst streaming free on Fandor.
For more insight into the best (and worst) of cult horror classics, check past editions of The Deepest Cuts here.