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Blood Thirst (1971)

Released in 1971, this black and white, Philippines-set horror mystery looks a decade or so older and manages to be a trudge even at 73 minutes. Girls who work as hostesses at the Barrio Club are waylaid by a melted face monster, who seems to be wearing a Luminoid mask left over from an Outer Limits episode (A Feasibility Study), and hung upside down to drain empty through slit wrists. The rotund police chief, played by Filippino perennial Vic Diaz, summons Adam Rourke (Robert Winston), a New York cop who has written a book about sex killers, to the islands. Rourke indulges in stodgy wisecracking that somehow works up into a weird relationship with the chief's British-parented adopted sister (Judy Dennis), a rather mature and neurotic heroine who unbelievably goes undercover as a hostess late in the game. Rourke poses as a journalist and pesters the Barrio boss to get an interview, a plot thread that goes on for some time, meanwhile seeing off the odd machete-flinging assassin with the help of a one-armed beggar who turns out to be an undercover cop carrying an artificial leg in a brown-paper bag (he says it comes in useful, and ends up using it to brain a baddie).

For about an hour, we concentrate on low-budget investigative work with a few flashes of stalker action – and it seems likely there'll be a logical explanation and a Scooby-Doo unmasking of the lone suspect, if only because the movie seems too prosaic to admit the supernatural. But the heroine notices an ancient, valuable Inca or Aztec armlet on a blonde belly-dancer in the Barrio, and we learn she and the boss came from Brazil – she's a vampire type who keeps young by regular transfusions (doing the occasional bit of face-clutching to suggest the years creeping back but never getting the full old-age make-up) and he's the blobby-headed monster. When the villains are defeated, the vampire / succubus melts away entirely leaving only her armlet (which covered the needle-track / slash in her arm) and the male monster does a lap-dissolve from blobbiness to oily normality. The wooden good guys go away happy. Written by N.I.P. Dennis (a pseudonym?); directed by Newt Arnold; inaccurately described in most reference books.
KIM NEWMAN

First published in this form here.


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