Actor Henry Silva once said of being cast in this movie: "I love traveling. That and the script were the reasons I decided to come to Australia".
Actors with international recognition such as American Henry Silva and British David Hemmings were imported for this Australian film production in order to boost the picture's saleability in foreign markets. Both these actors play characters who are doctors and both have billing down the cast order, at fourth and sixth respectively. This lower billing order for imported actors was unusual for an Australian film at this time. Normally, imported American or British actors received top or higher billing.
This film was Australia's first serious vampire movie of the modern Australian cinema. However, it should be noted that vampire characters did actually appear in Bruce Beresford's Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974) where Donald Pleasence starred as Count Erich von Plasma. Moreover, Thirst (1979) is not the only ever modern Australian vampire movie as The Wicked (1987) was later made and released.
First theatrically released feature film for director Rod Hardy who mostly works in television.
The estate premises of the headquarters of the secret vampire cult the Hyma Brotherhood was portrayed by an artists colony north of Melbourne in Victoria known as Montsalvat.
The national Australian government agency, the Department of Civil Aviation, banned a stunt where one of the film's villains falls to his death from a helicopter, landing on a number of stobey-pole electric cable wires whereupon he is vividly electrocuted. However, this scene still appears in the film.
Actor David Hemmings once said of this film during filming: "This crew is the best I've worked with in five years. What is happening out here in Australia is very exciting and I plan to become involved...I thought the script for 'Thirst ' was very commercial and had the potential for international success".
Lead actress Chantal Contouri who plays this movie's central character and protagonist Kate Davis, starred in producer Antony I. Ginnane's previous film, One More Minute (1979). Thirst (1979) was their second and final collaboration together.
According to 'E-FilmCritic', "Thirst (1979) was designed partly as a star-making showcase for the glamorous Chantal Contouri."
This film is notable for it's shower scene in blood. The sequence, which overlays Marnie (1964) with the shower scene from Psycho (1960), was dominant in the film's promotional materials, featuring prominently on the film's original theatrical poster as well as video covers. Alfred Hitchcock made Psycho (1960) in black-and-white so he didn't have to show blood. Later, when Hitchcock made Marnie (1964), he placed red filters over some scenes to evoke Marnie's fear of that color. This film is notable in its deliberate juxtaposition of these two Hitchcockian techniques.
Screenwriter John Pinkney based this film on stories which had been written as part of a book entitled 'Instant Terror'.
June Allyson was originally cast in (and was keen to play) the role of Mrs Barker, however Australian Actor's Equity opposed the use of an excessive amount of imported actors, so the role went to Shirley Cameron . Rod Mullinar was originally cast in the role of Dr Fraser until David Hemmings became available to which he was moved to the role of Derek.
Chantal Contouri received top / first billing, Shirley Cameron received second billing, Max Phipps received third billing, Henry Silva received fourth billing and Rod Mullinar received fifth billing, David Hemmings received sixth billing.