Movie Name: The Hunger
Release Date(s): April 29, 1983
MPAA Rating: R
Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) is a blood researcher trying to unlock the keys of aging. When she is contacted by a strange man named John Blaylock (David Bowie) who claims to be aging rapidly, she’s sucked into a web of death and immortal life. John is a vampire consort of Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve), but the immortal life given to John doesn’t mean immortal youth. Now, John is in a race against time to stop the aging as the police move in on the mysterious deaths…and Sarah could be Miriam’s next love.
Directed by Tony Scott, The Hunger is an erotic vampire horror thriller based on Whitley Strieber’s 1981 novel. The Hunger was released to mixed reviews, but since its released, it has gained a cult following.
The Hunger was one of those movies that should be great but isn’t. The movie is artsy, classy, and has a great cast. The concept is novel and the ideas generated by the story are completely original…but it is a movie that leaves the viewers scratching their heads saying, “What the hell?”
Part of the movie’s problem is structural. The movie does a lot to look at the concepts behind vampirism…it investigates it as a blood born disease and that is interesting. It also is highly erotic and has some intense lesbian scenes between Deneuve and Sarandon…something that was unusual in a mainstream movie at the time. The plot however plods and fails to really examine the issues it brings up. Furthermore it is sabotaged by a tacked on ending that was meant to leave the film open to possible sequels with Sarandon miraculously returning to life and Deneuve no longer ash but trapped inside a box…it makes no sense narratively.
This is a shame because the relationships between the characters is interesting. I always feel that Bowie has a bigger role in the film than he actually does and that there is more chemistry between Bowie and Sarandon…there isn’t. Bowie and Sarandon barely meet and the film primarily deals with Sarandon and Deneuve.
Visually the movie is high art to an almost laughable point. Deneuve’s gothic apartment is filled with blowing cloths and for some odd reason doves…it is like a bad ’80s music video. It looks great, but once again, it makes little sense.
The Hunger just doesn’t work, but you can see the seeds of other vampire horror that became prolific in later years. Published before The Hunger, Interview with the Vampire (1976) also explored similar themes and the “sexy vampire” story also could be seen as an adult precursor to movies like Twilight. The Hunger spawned an unrelated TV series in 1997 which ran for two seasons and there has been talk of a remake.
Buy it on Amazon.com or stream it now: