Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thirsty Dead, The (1974)

...aka: Blood Cult of Shangri-La, The
...aka: Blood Hunt

Directed by:
Terry Becker

Stewardess Laura (Jennifer Billings- ley), go-go dancer Claire (Judith McConnell), Acme computer employee Bonnie (Chiqui da Rosa) and teenage beauty queen Ann (Fredricka Meyers) are abducted from the streets of Manila by what they assume is a white slavery ring. They could only be so lucky! Instead, the ladies are loaded on canoes, taken upstream and then dragged off deep into the jungle to service a hidden society of male and female cave-dwellers. After being locked inside a cell and dressed in skimpy loincloths, our heroines eventually discover that their captives need to drink the blood of women to retain their youth and vigor. Since Laura looks exactly like the blonde goddess high-ranking tribe member Radu (John Considine) saw in a dream and then painted, he and tribal queen Ranu (Tani Guthrie) insist she join them. She refuses and is tossed back in the cell with her friends. The ladies manage to escape with some help and the rest of the film goes from The Flintstones to THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME as the tribe hunts tries to track them down before they reach civilization.

Despite a premise that seems tailor-made to showcase sex and violence, the film is having none of it. There's little gore, zero nudity and it's rated PG! Not that it really detracts from the overall experience. This Filipino-lensed fluff is basically just a bunch of childish nonsense, thought not without its own odd charm. The acting is extremely uneven, but the cast are sincere enough to offset some off line-readings. The caves and jungle locations are decent. And what about those costumes? Hilarious! Why use boring old brown animal hides when you can dress each person in bright green, blue and pink pastels? It also manages to skimp by with just a tiny bit of blood and only one visual effect, a time-lapse rapid-aging. Director Becker is best known as an actor (and for his recurring role on the 60s TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) and prolific Filipino character actor Vic Diaz plays a police lieutenant and was also the production coordinator.

Something Weird handled the DVD release and have teamed it up with the even more bizarre SWAMP OF THE RAVENS (1974). I'm pleased with the purchase.


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