“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.’
Some might recall a 1960 Universal International effort called The Leech Woman, about a woman 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.
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 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 Quatermain 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 Jabootu readers might be that of Vic Diaz, who stops by to play a cop. Diaz did tons of Filipino genre movies, among them Hustler Squad (which I reviewed over at Baker’s Log long 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 with 60′s Hercules movies, more adventure than terror.
Editor Ken: The Thirsty Dead is available via one of Something Weird’s double bill DVDs, mated with something called Swamp of the Ravens. Amazon sells it for under $10.
I also apologize for undercutting Rock’s review of the film with these stills. I’m certain the movie is *exactly* as boring as he describes, but of course these images, looking like a really bad Star Trek episode, make me really want to see it. We just can’t stop trying to kick that football, can we?
Rock Baker is a professional comic book artist is one of the Food Network’s Iron Chefs.