The Hunger (1983)
March 12, 2016 12:07 PM - Subscribe

The Egyptian vampire lady Miriam subsists upon the blood of her lovers. In return the guys or girls don't age... until Miriam has enough of them. Unfortunately that's currently the case ...

Roger Ebert: "The Hunger" is an agonizingly bad vampire movie, circling around an exquisitely effective sex scene. Sorry, but that's the way it is, and your reporter has to be honest.

NYTimes: What makes ''The Hunger'' so much fun is its knowing stylishness, which Mr. Scott, who makes his theatrical film debut here, has brought to movies from a career in commercials and documentaries. Here is a film that, for once, is appropriately served by fast cuts, overlapping dialogue, flashy camera work, wildly fashionable clothes and decor so elegant that only mythical creatures could sit around in it.

Movie Mezzanine: The concept is stronger than the execution: the green Scott rushes too quickly into the debilitating effects of vampirism, leading to a lethargic middle act in which the deliberate listlessness becomes too detached. Nonetheless, Scott’s thorough stylization of every blue-white frame, every piece of sheer fabric over clearly visible flesh, makes for a landmark entry in the ever-shifting genre. The lighting alone is resplendent, continuing the unorthodox application of Wellesian noir lighting that Scott’s brother used to great effect in Blade Runner. Aided by Bowie, Deneuve, and Susan Sarandon (as Miriam’s latest paramour) at the respective peaks of their attractiveness, The Hunger overcomes a sagging second half on the strength of its director’s untamed skill, and the film remains arguably ground zero for just about every sultry vampire movie that followed.

cleo: The parallels between actor and character in Deneuve and Miriam are perversely satisfying. Much like the unsuspecting characters that surround her, we too are seduced and then embroiled into narratives that repel and repulse. Cinematic archetypes imbue so-called beautiful women with certain functions: the femme fatale, the ingenue. Deneuve’s beauty is mutable, and she wields it accordingly. Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), his first English-language film, casts the 22-year-old as a paranoid, sex-averse spa worker who kills and dismembers a would-be suitor in her London apartment. Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid (1969) has her character, a con artist impersonating a man’s mail-order bride, steal, lie, and poison on a spree from Madagascar to Paris. Liza (1972) sees Deneuve as a woman having an affair with an artist on a Mediterranean island; she kills the artist’s sole companion, a dog, starts wearing his collar and licking, barking, and getting around on all-fours, assumes his identity in a sexually charged power play.

Looking back at Tony Scott's 'The Hunger'

Susan Sarandon revisits her 1983 film 'The Hunger'

An appreciation of David Bowie's performance in 1983's 'The Hunger'

posted by MoonOrb (8 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Undead, undead, undead.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:25 PM on March 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

I was 18 in the late 1980s and one mild February afternoon travelled with a new acquaintance two hours south, to a party at student apartments for the nearest art institute.

I was given a beer and a small blue square to place under my tongue, and as the long night unfolded I found myself in fabulous company, on a large cemetery hill overlooking the unfamiliar constellation of city lights, somehow navigating bridges and tunnels, then returned to the apartments where I briefly met someone who months later would become one of the best friends I'd ever have.

I awoke on a couch early the next morning. Coffee and cigarettes were passed around, someone turned on a VCR and rummaged through a box for a moment, and the room of recovering stragglers sat mute as The Hunger began.

My friend died young years ago, and now Bowie. I miss my friend especially, Bowie too, though I can't be too terribly sad with such a christening to friendship and adulthood.

Is The Hunger an objectively bad movie? That's what I keep hearing, though I'll never have any way of knowing. Certainly, there could be no more perfect movie for that specific time and place.
posted by methinks at 2:54 PM on March 12, 2016 [7 favorites]

Methinks, that's an awesome experience and I think it's important to remember that lots of "bad"movies are similarly resonant with certain people independent of the movie itself.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:54 PM on March 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm A Young Man.
posted by brujita at 8:33 PM on March 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another example of a director starting in horror and then becoming 'trusted' by hollywood with big movies (Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, Crimson Tide, Days of Thunder, True Romance, etc).
posted by el io at 12:41 AM on March 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I saw this in a theater in Manchester, England in nineteen eighty *coughcoughcough* with the sister of my cousin's then-wife (she and I got along like a house on fire, even though she was older than I was). She was a huge Bauhaus fan (I was just getting into them at the time), and their too-brief appearance at the beginning was why we went to see it.

I love this movie unashamedly although I haven't seen it in many years, and am scared to see it again in case it isn't as I remember it. It's gorgeous in my memory, and like its cousin Blade Runner, a film that cemented my aesthetic preferences when it comes to movies.
posted by biscotti at 5:17 AM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I still have a soft spot for it. I remember it as being stylish, unusual, and I liked the way it treated vampires. The book isn't too bad either. It's a more pragmatic look at vampirism, using the creatures as a shadowy companion species, instead of something mystical and supernatural. IIRC, essentially they are incredibly long-lived, very strong, and difficult to kill but they are not immortal in the traditional vampire sense.
posted by Kitteh at 7:58 AM on March 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I saw this film some time ago in the theater, and on seeing that it was on a streaming service, watched a few bits and pieces of it. The scene that Ebert talks about, and the opening scene with "Bela Lugosi's Dead", are probably the ones that people remember the best, and they may be the best ones in the film; I noped out after coming across the scene where John (Bowie's character) tries to stop his aging by killing a young music student, and fails. I mean, you can't deny that Tony Scott had style--Top Gun was huge, and if you have a mental picture of neo-noir that involves someone in a semi-darkened room smoking a cigarette and illuminated in slices of light from semi-closed venetian blinds, you may be thinking of a Tony Scott film--but there's just not that much there besides the style.

The story led me to think about Whitley Strieber and his rather singular writing career. He wrote the book that this was based on, plus Wolfen, which was basically "what if wolves, but smart", as well as some other books that didn't sell as well; then wrote a couple of near-future books with co-author James Kunetka about nuclear war and eco-disaster; and then started writing "nonfiction" books about his personally being abducted by "non-human visitors" (he doesn't say extraterrestrials, exactly, but...). He's changed details of a conversation that he allegedly had with one mysterious being between different editions of the same book, and also claimed to be witness to the Charles Whitman shootings in Austin, although he reported details that didn't happen and he's wavered on whether or not he was actually there.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:28 AM on October 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

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