Note: This piece is edited from a review which originally appeared at www.jabootu.net 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?
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
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
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.