PURE TERROR MONTH: The Thirsty Dead (1974)

A movie starring a Pittsburgh born-and-bred actress who starred as Yeoman Tankris in “Wolf in the Fold” on Star Trek, and as Jeanne Leeds, one of Mr. Drysdale’s secretaries on The Beverly Hillbillies, and as Darlene Wheeler, Ebb’s girlfriend on Green Acres?

Yeah, I know it’s weird that I can “six-degree” Judith McConnell like that. She’s this Pittsburgh born-and bred-Trekkies dream! To the transporters, Scotty!

Hold on there, Bones. Stow the pocket rocket.

Before Judith McConnell beamed to the Philippines to quench the blood lust of fellow ‘60s television mainstay, John Considine (who made his film debut as “Doctor Death” in 1973’s Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls), she had to meander through the New Mexico desert so a devil-worshipping cult could maintain their eternity in The Brotherhood of Satan (1971).

. . . And somewhere between being a member of Ted V. Mikels’s The Doll Squad (1973) and finding steady work in the American daytime dramas As the World Turns, Another World (86 shows), One Life to Live, and Santa Barbara (over 1,000 episodes!), she appeared in this Filipino pseudo-vamp potboiler.

So, this movie is about . . .

Hey, there’s Filipino cheap-fest mainstay and Ciro H. Santiago’s favorite actor, Vic Diaz, from Beast of Yellow Night, The Big Bird Cage, Superbeast, Daughters of Satan, Black Mama White Mama, and Equalizer 2000!

Gulp! It’s Brigette Bardot’s doppelganger, Jennifer Billingsley, from Burt Reynolds’s rednecksploitation classic, White Lightning (1973)!

There’s that bucktoothed hottie, Tani Guthrie, from Daughters of Satan (1972) playing another twisty, witchy-bitchy blood priestess!

R.D! We get it! All of the B-Movie actors you love are in the movie. What’s it about? Is it as tantalizing as the art work depicts? A film featuring Judith McConnell strapped to assembly-line style tables under the tagline: They need a special liquid to stay young. It is thick, red and warm, must be hot n’ sexy!

Yeah, you’d think.

It starts off AWESOME, with Judith McConnell go-go dancing in a cage for a bunch of horny, on-shore leave U.S sailors . . . that’s kidnapped by mysterious, crimson-hooded figures. . . . That’s what’s great about these Filipino horror flicks: there’s never a shortage bikini-clad, hot white chicks to kidnap and sacrifice.

So, anyway . . . going along for the boat ride to Baru’s (John Considine) plastic-trees jungle and papier-mâché caves, jungle-cult island getaway are Fredricka Myers, Chiqui da Rosa and, GULP!, Jennifer Billingsley who, at first, assume they’re going to shipped to Hong Gong for the sex trade.

Didn’t you girls read the “plot twist” in the script? You’re going to be “blood cows” for some eternal youth elixir hocus pocus in the name of a “God” that is a . . . disembodied talking head in a glass box?

So how does the mayhem end? I bet they’re building a Frankenbabe with all the “best parts,” like in Blood Cult (1985), to put the “head” on, right?


Baru decides to defy the “Ring of Age” and spend his mortal life with Jennifer Billingsley. Yep, the little head out thinking big head screws up yet another evil plan. . . .

What? Huh? Ssork! Is the movie over?

Yeah, this one’s a sleeper that even Judith the babe can’t save. If this had only been a Star Trek episode where Kirk and the gang land on a planet with a blood-cult society tying up all the red mini-dress lassies. . . . Why the hell not? With all the flowing pastel getups and Considine’s high-collared Dr. Strange wares, it looks like that Star Trek episode with David “Hutch” Soul feeding that stone-cave god. (Check out this review of Soul’s In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I Murders for last month’s Scarecrow Pyschotronic Challenge.)

It’s not a surprise the film ended up being the first and last writing-directing features effort for television actor-director Terry Becker, who directed episodes of Mission: Impossible and starred as Chief Sharkey on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

After The Thirsty Dead, John Considine returned to TV work; in the ‘80s, you couldn’t not see him on a TV series—mostly notably the daytime drama, Santa Barbara, and multiple episodes of MacGyver.

As for Judith McConnell: She’ still thespin’ in 2019 with roles on the successful web-soap opera, The Bay, and truTV’s comedy series, I’m Sorry. . . .

Oh, by the way: Judith McConnell maintains a “Bacon Rating” of “1”; she co-starred with Kevin Bacon in 2016’s The Darkness. It was produced by Blumhouse Productions, known for the low-budget horrors Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Get Out, Insidious, Happy Death Day, and Halloween.

About the Author: You can read the music and film criticisms of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his rock ‘n’ roll biographies, along with horror and sci-fi novellas, on Facebook.

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