-MONTHLY VHS & DVD REVIEW-
cast: Matt Keeslar, Clare Kramer, Adam Baldwin, Serena Scott-Thomas, and Jeremy Sisto
director: Jeremy Kasten
84 minutes (18) 2006
widescreen ratio 16:9
Starz DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Michael Bunning
Maxx (Matt Keeslar) and Lisa (Claire Kramer) are, the audience are told, recovering
addicts in a loving, committed relationship. This fact isn't borne out by the behaviour
of either of them, but since The Thirst is a low budget vampire movie, that's neither
here nor there. The audience aren't actually after continuity or believability.
Maxx tells his A.A. group - in a rather nasty speech about the woman he supposedly loves
- that Lisa is working as a stripper ("or dancing, as she calls it," he says,
scornfully), and because of her odd behaviour he thinks she is using drugs again. In actual
fact she's dying of cancer and hasn't told him (naturally). The audience are treated to a
sequence of Lisa stripping with Maxx's spiteful narration telling his listeners how he'll
often come home to find the toilet smelling of vomit, which ends with Lisa collapsing on
stage, vomiting blood and being whisked off to hospital. While she's in hospital, she meets
a mysterious nurse (Serena Scott Thomas) called Mariel who tells her it's all going to be
alright. It appears Mariel is wrong though, as Lisa checks herself out of hospital (as Maxx
is arguing with one of the other nurses), goes home and commits suicide.
Maxx spirals quickly into depression (represented by a clumsy montage of Maxx sporting
more and more dodgy prosthetic facial hair and hugging Lisa's clothes), and one night when
his friends drag him to a fetish club to try to cheer him up, he thinks he sees Lisa. She's
alive! She can't be, can she? Predictably enough, of course, she can. It turns out that
Mariel isn't a nurse after all: she's a vampire. Lisa is now also one of the undead, and
she, Mariel and the rest of the vampire 'family' were sizing the club up as a potential
buffet. Maxx heads back to the club the next night, finds Lisa just as the vampires begin
to feed, is rescued by her and given a choice by Darius, the head of the family: join them
or die. Maxx eagerly accepts the offer of eternity with Lisa and is turned into a vampire
Just as all seems rosy though, Maxx and Lisa decide that vampirism is really another form
of addiction and that they need to go cold turkey and eradicate the rest of the family.
Yawn. The Thirst has five credited writers, two of whom are the producer and director.
Seasoned moviegoers may be dispirited by this information, as it usually implies that a
quirky, interesting script was turned into something much more clich�d and pedestrian in
order to appeal to a wider demographic. Unsurprisingly, this is also the case here (as the
viewer finds out in a refreshingly honest commentary).
The original script told a story in which the recovering addict couple find out Lisa is
dying and seek out vampirism, accepting that they're going to be addicted to blood for
eternity, but deciding that in order to stay together, it will be worth it. The final
product, though, is a by-the-numbers blood, tits and ass schlock-fest that stumbles along,
suffering from clumsy direction and dreadful dialogue, stealing most of its new plot from
other, superior vampire films and woefully under using the cast, most of whom are clearly
slumming it here.
On the other hand, The Thirst is a low-budget vampire flick, and fans of the genre
demand a very specific type of film: one with plenty of flesh, plenty of blood and plenty
of camp acting. The Thirst delivers on all those points, which is a plus for genre
fans. Beginning with the very first scene, there's barely a minute goes by without a surgically
enhanced pair of breasts either bared or in skimpy lingerie. When the vampires feed, blood
by the gallon sprays everywhere, and dreadful prosthetic throats are ripped out, dreadful
prosthetic skulls are crushed and dreadful prosthetic eyes are popped with enthusiastic abandon.
As for campy acting, the cast (with the sole exception of the wooden performance Matt Keeslar
inflicts on the viewer) are clearly having a whale of a time. The family of vampires give
awesomely bizarre, mannered performances: Adam Baldwin plays a cowboy vampire who's basically
a pastiche of the character he played in
(played by Jeremy Sisto) affects several accents, all of them atrocious and delivered with
a wink; and Neil Jackson plays a long-dead English Earl whose accent runs the gamut from
cut-glass RP to 'cockernee' and in once scene a broad Yorkshire 'ee-by-gum' effort.
Where this DVD shines is in the bonus features. There's a run-of-the-mill photo gallery
that isn't worth looking at, a selection of deleted scenes (though all too often it's clear
why they were deleted), a commentary with the director and producer, and a PDF file (which
needs to be accessed via a computer) containing the script. The script is interesting reading,
showing how uneven the joins between the old and the new stories are, and when coupled with
the commentary make a very interesting insight into independent film production. The commentary,
as previously mentioned, is refreshingly honest: no secret is made of the script's origin, and
the 'borrowing' from themes and material from other vampire movies (especially
Near Dark and
The Hunger) is owned up to without a trace of embarrassment. In fact, the commentary
is much more interesting and entertaining than the main feature.
Frankly, it's a shame that the development of The Thirst took the route it did.
There's just enough of the original script and story to make you wish you were watching
that film (which appears to have been a meditation on love, sacrifice and addiction), and
the serious addiction scenes that remain sit awkwardly alongside the generic bloodiness
of the final product. If the producer and director had jettisoned the original script and
come up with an entirely original effort, it would at least have been a lot of fun, but
it's hobbled by its more intelligent and thoughtful origins. It's one for real fans of
low-budget horror only.