Saturday, September 21, 2013

Video Cheese: THE THIRSTY DEAD (1975)

Note: This piece is edited from a review which originally appeared at and has been re-posted here with the kind permission of Mr. Ken Begg.

THE THIRSTY DEAD (1975 - color)

The short version: What would you do  if, to live forever, you had to drain others of their lives?

The details:

  Actually, a better title for this Filipino adventure movie would have been ‘The Deadly Thirst.’ Given the characters the title refers to aren't revived from the dead, but instead have lived for many years, the moniker more suited to a zombie movie is rather misleading. Calling it THE THIRSTY DEAD really doesn't make any sense at all. Presumably, this title was picked because it gave it the sound of a horror film, and thus was meant to target a specific audience. As it turns out, the wrong audience for this particular kind of film.

   Some might recall a 1960 Universal International effort called THE LEECH WOMAN, about the neglected wife of a scientist who discovers a means of restoring beauty and youth by drinking extracts from male glands. This is the secret of a remote African tribe.

   THE THIRSTY DEAD reworks this premise slightly. Here, women are abducted and taken to become new members of a remote jungle paradise where the natives drink the blood of others to prolong their lives. The fortunate few feed off the youth and beauty of the unfortunate others. In this case, the ritual is tied to some ancient ceremony, so the victims are willing participants of the cult. They don’t die, but after years of service become blood-thirsty and insane. The bulk of the film follows some recent abductees as they discover how this system works, and their attempts to escape.

   Our film opens with a generous portion of the act of a go-go dancer who will be among our heroines. This seems to indicate her dancing will come into play later, as much as it's dwelled on, but such is not the case...

   I’m really not sure what to say about the film. While well-mounted and not terrible, it isn’t particularly memorable either. It’s the sort of curious piece that mostly served to fill out double or triple bills. The plot isn't much more complicated than I've already described. The women are abducted, escorted through the jungle, shown their new home, and then they try to escape. This is done competently, but not particularly excitingly.

   The biggest name connected to the film is our male lead John Considine, a busy TV actor. Here, he plays Baru, the sympathetic co-leader of this lost society. He shares power with a rather more ruthless queen, reminding me of the later ALLAN QUARTERMAIN AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, where a similar lost tribe was ruled by a pair of good/bad potentates (the bad one being played by Cassandra Peterson!) and forced to make human sacrifice until strangers came to town. Considine isn’t bad here, but nor does he burn up the screen with his presence.
   Like Considine, many of the lead actresses had active careers in television. The only really note-worthy name for genre fans might be that of Vic Diaz, who stops by to play a cop. Diaz did tons of Filipino genre movies, among them the war epic HUSTLER SQUAD. This film I examined in an Oddball Film Report some time ago. Monster movie fans may remember him as the Devil in THE BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT, a bizarre pseudo-werewolf movie where he brings murderer John Ashley (the actor, not the gangster) back to life as another man. When Ashley develops a conscience, his dark master retaliates by turning him into a blood-drinking monster.

   Speaking of monsters, the big set-piece here is a break-out of the mutilated victims who take revenge on a few pretty people who fall into their clutches. This was described somewhere as being like something from a zombie movie, and there is a little bit of unconvincing gore here, but it looks more to me like the release of the mutants witnessed in the trailer for BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER, a Robert Clarke vehicle from 1960. If anything, that mass attack scene looks more exciting (I haven’t seen that one yet, but I’m anxious to do so).

   Although fairly obscure, the film was once a staple on UHF horror shows. I can only imagine the kiddies who stayed up late were pretty disappointed by the lack of overmuch horror. You could file this one more with 60′s Hercules movies. More adventure than terror.

   A fairly stunning print has been released via the good folks at Something Weird Video. For extra fun, the film has been paired with the really quite dreary SWAMP OF THE RAVENS, and the usual amount of nifty extras like trailers for other obscurities and oddities. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I remember.

There's no way I could pay proper respect to those who lost their lives or risked their lives to aid their fellow man. So all I can and will say is, "I remember."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Betsy the Bookwriter in ALIEN PLANET

  One of the stories done with co-creator Jeff Austin for Jim Main's Main Enterprises PRESENTS was this entry in the popular Betsy the Bookwriter series. Betsy soon ends her run with Main with the final issue of MEP. Here's a look back at one of her earlier adventures.