The Golden Age of Hollywood

Thirst (1979): a vampire version of The Story of O

I've been asked to explain my description of Thirst (1979) as an erotic vampire film.
So here goes:

When Dracula was made in the 1930s, sex was not explicitly depicted in films, but the vampire's irresistible powers to enter a young woman's bedroom at night, put his mouth on her neck and drink her blood were a thinly veiled reference to sex that most viewers even then were able to pick up on.
Thirst (1979) is not the first film to take this erotic aspect of the vampire legend to another level, I think, ratcheting up the explicitness of the erotic elements under the guise of a "horror" film. The film really plays with the ideas of domination and submission (the strange power of the vampire over his victim) and how interchangeable they are, and "wholesome" versus "unwholesome" attraction. Isn't this fundamental to the whole vampire mystique?
Thirst goes a step further. It's almost a vampire version of The Story of O. In Thirst, just as in The Story of O, the heroine is kidnapped into a perverse organization and made to submit to a sort of brainwashing which would be appalling to "normal, decent" people (these do really exist, so I've heard), yet which she finds strangely compelling. This brainwashing utilizes, among other techniques, psychoactive drugs. Have I piqued your interest yet?
When our heroine is pretty far along in her conditioning, she's presented in a ceremony involving a very willing "blood cow" who is not only submissive but honored to have his blood drunk by her. He lies stretched out on a table before her, waiting. She hesitates, the audience grows restless, so an assistant thoughtfully steps forward and slits open an artery in the blood cow's neck, enticing her beyond her capacity to resist, and she bends down...
We see her finally beginning to crave what her captors want her to crave, even though a part of her still resists. There's a pivotal scene in which she tries to flee, and her main captor, who is in love with her, turns the tables and submits to HER, offering his own neck out of pure...well, call it what you will. And she goes for it with abandon.
If you ask me, the message of this very offbeat film is: it's AWFUL what they made her do, isn't it? (And so hot!)

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Comment by Bruce Brownlee on February 2, 2009 at 7:39pm
Yes, I recognize her face!

Actually, this IS a rather stunning poster design, with fine use of shadow and negative space.
Comment by Paco Malo on February 2, 2009 at 1:16pm
Look what I found:

The Story of O
(American Film Poster)
Comment by SPYKE on January 26, 2009 at 5:45am
Sounds great.
Comment by Bruce Brownlee on December 15, 2008 at 12:45am
Abdullah -- I have it on good authority that the script for "Thirst" was 26 pages long, but not until the last day of shooting. I enjoy discussing middling but entertaining fare. Also, trash. What more is there to say about Gone With the Wind or Top Hat or Sunset Boulevard or Dracula? Mine eyes doth glaze over.

Besides, this was really about other things, including, oddly enough, the last American election. (Who won?) But that wasn't what kept drawing them (okay, me) in.

Yes, I know Blood and Roses is quite well known, but I really truly haven't seen it, at least that I remember. That it is not on DVD is probably the reason I haven't seen it. In the horse-and-buggy era, we used to have to scoot around to different city cinemas to catch all these movies. It was hard work. A few were missed. More should have been.
Comment by Christopher on December 14, 2008 at 10:15pm
"Blood and Roses" Bruce!..or are you kidding again? ;o).....No theres no reason Blood and Roses shouldn't be on DVD..its quite well known..
Comment by Abdullah aka Chuck on December 14, 2008 at 9:51pm
Page 7 ? This has to be the most that this film has ever been discussed! The script wasn't 7 pages!!
Comment by Bruce Brownlee on December 14, 2008 at 7:37pm
For old movie fans, this was the 70s Soledad Miranda, not the 40s one. BIG difference. Yes, the soundtrack is GREAT in a retro-tacky sort of way. Which I like. I'll have to rent it again. Betting on Franco is a sucker (as it were) bet, but he DID make some good movies here and there, perhaps by accident.

Yeah, human companionship. I'm mostly avoiding it these days, given the quality of same (although I really like my wife! just not her in-laws.) Hence, the safety of the internet.

But the internet gets messy, too.
Comment by Bruce Brownlee on December 14, 2008 at 7:30pm
Christopher -- I don't believe I've seen "Bread and Roses", and a quick survey of Amazon reveals...zilch. There's always the "gray market" which specializes in hard-to-find titles unless somebody threatens to sue. I love a good hunt. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the rec.
Comment by Christopher on December 14, 2008 at 7:29pm
I have the 2 Hammer films...and I have Franco's Vampiros Lesbos(the soundtrack too)..I find it oddly atmospheric in its stark daytime way...and Soledad Miranda gets my sympathy as a very lonely lesbian bloodsucker..comes off as someone who craves companioship more than anything else..don't we all...
Comment by Bruce Brownlee on December 14, 2008 at 7:11pm
I've researched Amazon, that vital library of the obscure, and come up with a list. Do rent if you can and then decide whether to purchase for further decadence. Please note that none of these films derives from Hollywood, and they belong to no "golden age." Copper, maybe.

This one is my favorite, very atmospheric, and deeply sexual, although immersed in the "lesbian vampire" mythos so omnipresent in early 70s exploitation cinema. Some of the acting is simply wonderful====>>>

Here's my second favorite. The low budget shows, but it doesn't much matter. ====>>>

I'm not a Jess Franco fan, although he does have his adherents. He certainly has been true to his vision, and never cared if he had no budget to work with. He had his loyalists. Hence I recommend this film with extreme reservations, noting only that it has a cult foillowing, and is somewhat less amateurish than his thousands of other movies ====>>>

The next one is a twin bill from Hammer in its desperate phase, and I've seen neither, but they have decent (?) reputations, and I've put it on my wish list for Santa ====>>>

The final movie has nothing to do with vampires, but has everything to do with the sadomasochistic component of human sexuality. It's intelligent (but could be more so), faIrly well acted (though ditto), and quite powerful. It is also VERY STRONG STUFF -- by which I mean it is quite explicit. Director Radley Metzger thought it possible to combine the art film with hard-core -- and nearly succeeded, but not quite. The film is based on a novel by Alain Robbe-Grillet, the author notably of "Last Year at Marienbad" -- and you can see his fingerprints, if not his "objective" style, all over it. A R-G's depth almost carries over into the movie, but not entirely. Imagination is still the best cinema. The movie initially struck me (in the first 10 or 15 minutes) as pretentious and pompous and all that. But it grows on you as you suspend your skepticism. Or at least it did that to me. Remember: Explicit. Put the kiddies to bed and don't leave it lying about. It's also out of print, although I daresay it remains available in Europe -- possibly. Rent if you can.

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