The Thisty Dead
Director: Terry Becker
Stars: Jennifer Billingsly, Judith McConnell, John Considine
This isn’t quite the type of movie I expected from the title The Thirsty Dead. I had actually expected something black and white from the early sixties set in South America or Africa and about voodoo zombies – something like I Eat Your Skin only lamer. This is a quickie zombie film shot in the Philippines which has the stank of early 70s Roger Corman all over it – even though Corman had NOTHING to do with this picture. Vic Diaz, who played the gay prison guard in The Big Doll House as well as the crime lord in Black Mama, White Mama has a small role in this movie. Instead of a zombie movie – I got something that made me feel as if I was living the hell of Women in Prison month all over again.
The Thisty Dead takes place in the Phillipines and opens in a raunchy nightclub where Laura (former Playboy Bunny Jennifer Billingsly) is performing a striptease. Back in her changing room she tunes in the exposition radio that tells her about American girls being kidnapped, probably for some sor of white slave ring. While she ponders over how great she would be as a white sex slave, she’s kidnapped. Vic Diaz shows up for a minute to investigate this kidnapping. This investigation amounts to him simply saying “Must be them slavers,” and is never brought up again.
Laura and several other girls are taken to a lush tropical island (of which there are MANY in the Phillipines I’m sure). The story is almost like those pre Night of the Living Dead zombie movies – all about tropical islands and voodoo; cheap B-movies like The Leech Woman or the aforementioned I Eat Your Skin. This IS a cheap B-movie that takes place an island full of odd mysticism – but The Thirsty Dead just doesn’t feel like those other movies. It’s not just because it’s in color, there is a certain kind of grindhouse sleaze to The Thirsty Dead that sets it apart from other “voodoo zombie” movies. Here there is a death cult run by Baru (John Considine – a man that has NO acting talent whatsoever). They hold their rituals to some fake god, whose name is pretty much irrelevant, and maintain immortality by drinking the blood of the women they snatch off the streets of Manilla. Those who go against the wishes of the cult are tossed into a cave where they just becoming rotting zombies, thirsting for the blood that once made them immortal. So the title The Thirsty Dead is actually pretty accurate – color me surprised. The discover that Laura is their “chosen one” but she wants nothing to do with this psycho cult.
A good portion of the movie deals with Laura convincing Baru that what this cult does is just wrong. This is where some of the supidest, campy dialogue comes from. There are bits of conversation like this:
Baru: I want you to share in this with us. I want you to know the joy of living forever without the fear of death.
Laura: In God’s name, how can you find joy in crippling and abusing people so that you can live?
Baru: You don’t understand, Laura.
Laura: Oh, I understand. I understand.
Baru: We have the wisdom of the ages, that’s our gift. And through Raul we’ve evolved beyond nature. We’ve combined this wisdom with vitality and the beauty of youth… Our existence is the worship of beauty…
Laura: No…. You’re worshipping yourself at the expense of others. That’s ugliness. That’s EEEEEEVVVVVIIIIILLLL.
Eventually Laura helps Baru to see the error of his ways. He decides to leave his cult and help Laura and the other prisoners escape from the island – even though he now faces turning into a thirsty zombie.
The Thirsty Dead is almost a movie that’s so bad it’s good. There is plenty of camp and the movie is certainly quirky and over-the-top to set it apart from movies with similar stories. In the end, however, it misses that point of becoming good. It’s goes beyond “so bad its good” to just circle back and become plain bad. While there are a few moments worth laughing at and things to make you go “well, that’s something different,” there are not quite enough of these to make the whole movie enjoyable. In the end, this is just a movie to watch and forget about – there’s nothing special here, just jungles and zombies that can be found in any movie, only thing different is that this is in color. That’s why this review is actually pretty short – there’s not much to be said about this movie other than: “Zombies in the Phillipines. It sucks.” There have been worse movies on this DVD set – but there’s also been better ones. This one just kinda takes up space on a disc that would have been better used on any other crappy zombie films – and there are PLENTY of shitty zombie movies in the world.
Next up, the last movie on Disc 2 – The Amazing Transparent Man which I think I’ve seen before – I don’t know – the title sounds familiar.