The Hunger

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Despite receiving some lukewarm reviews upon its release, this surprising artsy debut feature from Hollywood director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Man on Fire) had all the elements to age into a cult movie: Starring emblematic French beauty Catherine Deneuve (Belle de Jour, Indochine), music icon David Bowie and Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), this vampire film opens with an iconic performance by Goth band Bauhaus – mostly a close-up of singer Peter Murphy – performing their hit “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (they were also known for their cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust”).

Based on a novel and centering on Lady Miriam (Deneuve), an Egyptian vampire feeding on her lovers’ blood, this film is distinctive for its atmosphere and visuals, rather than for its confusing plot about immortality.

Stylish and erotic, The Hunger envelops you with its cold beauty and creepiness thanks to its dark cinematography (lots of work on shadows), haunting soundtrack (from classic music by Bach and Ravel to Bauhaus and the Iggy Pop/Bowie collaboration “Funtime”) and detached performances.

While Mr. Bowie is a perfect choice when it comes to incarnating John, a cool, chic vampire, Ms. Deneuve is the most striking as a femme fatale – she’s always been known for her chilly allure. As for Ms. Sarandon (Sarah), she’s the one who must showcase the most range here, from ingenue to temptress. As a side note, you might also recognize Willem Dafoe (The Last Temptation of Christ, Nymphomaniac Part 2) as an extra standing by a payphone.

While not extreme by today’s standards, The Hunger certainly delivers when it comes to creepiness and sex. The movie has some cruel, sinister moments (particularly its conclusion) but also some very erotic sequences involving Miriam and John,  their swinging partners and some lesbian interlude with Sarah – the blood disease seems also to be an allusion to AIDS. Whether it’s indulging in horror or pleasure, what makes these scenes so enjoyable is the fact that they remain classy and suggestive, in phase with both the movie’s overall tone and the actors’ stature.

More than 14 years later, it’s no surprise that this film has proved to be influential despite some narrative flaws: besides the obvious Goth crowd, it should also appeal to Bowie fans as well as Art-House and Foreign film aficionados – more recently filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Broken Flowers), somewhat revisited this premise taking on a rock n’roll vampire couple in Only Lovers Left Alive.

Director: Tony Scott – Actors: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie – Running Time: 1:37 – Year: 1983 – Country: US

Watch the trailer below.

The Hunger [Blu-ray]


New From: $13.49 USD In Stock

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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.