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!)