The Hunger is currently available on Amazon Prime.
The Hunger (1983)
“Sensual vampire story stars rock legend David Bowie as an ailing centuries-old vampire whose fanged-lover, Catherine Deneuve, seduces a mortal while seeking a new partner.”
“She’s that kind of a woman. She’s… European. “
Tony Scott’s theatrical directorial debut, The Hunger, is a film ahead of its time. The Hunger is all style and not much substance. The movie is very loosely based on the Whitley Streiber novel of the same name.
The first goth rock band, Bauhaus, is featured over the opening credits singing their iconic song, Bela Lugosi’s Dead. While Bauhaus would be on nineteen different soundtracks, this was the first and only time they appeared on film. By they, I mean lead singer Peter Murphy. The other members are featured only as arms or legs. Bauhaus broke up that year.
The Hunger belongs to the trio of actors at the center of the film. Thankfully each one is not only superb but sexy as well. Because so much of the theme of The Hunger is aging, it is nice that Scott went with a trio of mid-to-late-30s actors instead of youngsters.
French superstar Catherine Deneuve has a wonderfully mature icy, sexy demeanor as our central vampire, Miriam. Singer David Bowie was stylish to begin with but handles the aging quite well as Miriam’s companion John. Susan Sarandon leaves her wide-eyed Janet from Rocky Horror behind, playing researcher Sarah Roberts.
The Hunger has cult classic written all over it. The first requirement for cult classic is that it be stylish. The vampires are stylish. They have a stylish home in New York with a stylish staircase, a conservatory, a lily room and an attic with doves, a spotlight, and flowing gauzy curtains. They even have a remote that controls not a television or stereo but a spotlight (re-purposed slide projector?). The wardrobe is stylish, the Egyptian weapon is stylish, the darkened nightclub is stylish.
The second requirement is that it appeal to a niche group. The Hunger is clearly made for the goth movement except that it predates the majority of that. It is also apparently popular in the lesbian community – not a surprise as the scene where Deneuve seduces Sarandon is an absolute stunner.
Makeup artist extraordinaire Dick Smith, already an old hand at age makeup with Little Big Man, does a superb job of aging David Bowie and a monkey. Howard Blake’s score and musical stings work well and is seen briefly as a piano player.
Sorry to be vague here but I hate spoilers. The ending, while, of course, stylish, throws away everything that we learned over the course of the film and as such is rather jarring. In spite of that, I really enjoyed this very different vampire tale.
People Watch: Look for actor Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, The English Patient) as 2nd Phone Booth Youth. Ann Magnuson is a young woman picked up at a bar.