The Hunger (1983)

USA, 1983
97m [Canada – television], 100m
35mm film, Panavision [anamorphic], Metrocolor, 2.35:1
mono, English

A British/American horror film directed by Tony Scott.

Plot Summary

Egyptian vampire Miriam has survived for centuries on blood of her lovers who in turn never age, though they never survive after Miriam has tired of them. Her latest lover, John, is nearing the end of his usefulness and turns to Dr Sarah Roberts for help. Naturally, she doesn’t believe him but is intrigued by enough to track down Miriam. And then she finds out exactly how hypnotic she can really be…

Credits

Crew
Directed by: Tony Scott
© 1983 by MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents a Richard Shepherd Company production
Produced by: Richard A. Shepherd
Screenplay by: Ivan Davis and Michael Thomas
From the Novel by: Whitley Strieber
Director of Photography: Stephen Goldblatt
Editor: Pamela Power
Original Music by: Michel Rubini and Denny Jaeger
Sound Mixer: Clive Winter
Costume Designer: Milena Canonero
Make-up Co-chiefs: Jane Royle, Ann Brodie
Hairdresser: Paula Gillespie
Special Effects: Graham Longhurst
Monkey Effects: Dave Allen, Roger Dicken
Production Designer: Brian Morris

Cast
Catherine Deneuve (Miriam [Blaylock])
David Bowie (John [Blaylock])
Susan Sarandon (Sarah Roberts)
Cliff De Young (Tom Haver)
Dan Hedaya (Lieutenant Allegrezza)
Beth Ehlers (Alice Cavender)
Rufus Collins (Charlie Humphries)
Suzanne Bertish (Phyllis)
James Aubrey (Ron)
Ann Magnuson (young woman from disco)
John Stephen Hill (young man from disco)
Shane Rimmer (Jelinek)
Bauhaus (disco group)
Douglas Lambert (TV host)
Bessie Love (Lillybelle)
John Pankow (1st phone booth youth)
Willem Dafoe (2nd phone booth youth)

Alternative Titles

El ansia – Spain
Begierde – West Germany
Blodshunger – Sweden
Az Éhség – Hungary
Fome de Viver – Portugal
Miriam si sveglia a mezzanotte – Italy
Les Prédateurs – France
Verenjano – Finland

Extracts included in
The Celluloid Closet (1995)

See also
The Hunger (1997-2000)

Press

1983
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.50 no.592 (May 1983) pp.133-134
The steals from Daughters of Darkness, Performance (gliding car/growling synthesizer), and The Man Who Fell to Earth (Bowie’s television watching; his costuming – hat and tinted glasses – for the visit to the clinic) are obvious enough. But with the flashbacks to the vampires’ eighteenth-century past, it is difficult to tell whether the source material is brother Ridley’s The Duellists or innumerable brandy commercials. […] This slick, vacuous surface might not have been so disastrous were the accompanying narrative not so hand-me-down and brokenbacked. The first section, concerned with John Blaylock’s decay, attempts to suggest the emotional anguish of the character’s sudden and fatal ageing. It is wound up so quickly, however, that Bowie has no chance to develop what looks like an excellent performance. And while it contains the film’s best idea (the two-hundred-year wait to see the doctor), it hardly connects (despite some insistent intercutting) with part two. Here, Susan Sarandon is wasted in a swift run-through of cliches: soft core lesbian/vampire connections; the worried, ‘straight’ male lover; the resurrection of the living dead. Any subversive possibilities in the pairing of the vampires’ desire for immortality and the medical research directed to the same end are at once bound up and dissipated in the concentration on Sarah’s individual plight. – from an illustrated review by Steve Jenkins

Cinefantastique vol.13 no.5 (June/July 1983) p.57
If you could take a piece of chamber music and change it into a horror film, it would resemble Tony Scott’s The Hunger. […] The film is one of the tightest genre pieces to come along in a while, which unfortunately is not to its credit. The Hunger follows such a rigorously linear narrative path, that it misses the character touches that could have given it depth and life. […] Without doubt, the film is too stylized for its own good; entering the Blaylock mansion is like walking into a lifeless, soft focus dream. […] The atmosphere is so mellow, so languid that even a grisly blood-drenched scene between Miriam and Sarah becomes too detached to be shocking. […] Ultimately The Hunger is an interesting, albeit shallow, parlor room horror film in which the filmmakers emphasize texture over substance with less-than-successful results. – from an illustrated review by Dan Scapperotti

2004
Fangoria no.238 (November 2004) p.70
Time has been kind to The Hunger […], which is kinda ironic, since ageing is one of its central themes. What’s interesting is how this film – a box-office flop – has gone on to influence many terrible vampire movies (and one or two decent ones), but it still holds up on its own. […] Director Tony Scott seems to be aping his broher Ridley’s signature look, but does it well; The Hunger is a beautiful film” – from a review (DVD Dungeon) by Matthew Kiernan

Sight & Sound vol.14 no.12 (December 2004) p.78
Often lambasted as an exercise in style over content, Scott’s take on the vampire genre is indeed a little showy, though given Scott’s background in TV commercials it’s perhaps not surprising. Pop-video cliches from the 1980s abound: doves fluttering among drapery, Bauhaus singing ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead‘ in a goth club, soft-core lesbian scenes and even a rollerblader grooving to Iggy Pop amid dry ice. But despite this The Hunger has dated surprisingly well. […] The influence of Nic Roeg is in evidence here, in particular that of Roeg and Donald Cammell’s Performance and the Bowie vehicle The Man Who Fell to Earth. – from a review by Ronnie Hackston

References

Periodicals

  • American Cinematographer vol.64 no.8 (August 1983) pp.53-53, 91-96 – illustrated article
  • American Cinematographer vol.86 no.2 (February 2005) pp.19-20,22 – illustrated review (DVD Playback by Kenneth Sweeney)
  • Box no.2 (June/July 1997) p.20 – illustrated review (Desperately seeking Sarandon by Victoria Williams)
  • British National Film and Video Catalogue vol.22 (1984) – credits
  • Cahiers du Cinéma no.351 (September 1983) pp.64-65 – review
  • Cinefantastique vol.12 no.1 (February 1982) p.5 – note (The Hunger: MGM films Strieber’s followup to The Wolfen by Paul Gagne)
  • Cinefantastique vol.13 no.2/3 (November/December 1982) p.5 – illustrated article (The Hunger by Kay Anderson)
  • Cinefantastique vol.13 no.4 (April/May 1983) pp.16-23 – illustrated article (Dick Smith on The Hunger by Paul R. Gagne)
  • Cinefantastique vol.13 no.5 (June/July 1983) p.57 – illustrated review (by Dan Scapperotti)
  • City Limits no.87 (3 June 1983) p.24 – illustrated article
  • Continental Film and Video Review vol.30 no.8 (June 1983) pp.4-5 – review
  • L’Écran Fantastique no.36 (July/August 1983) pp.6, 8; 9-13; 14 – interview with Tony Scott; interview with Whitley Strieber; review
  • Empire no.241 (July 2009) pp.108-114 – illustrated article (Tony Scott on Tony Scott by Adam Smith)
  • Fangoria no.238 (November 2004) p.70 – review (DVD Dungeon by Matthew Kiernan)
  • Films in Review vol.34 no.6 (Jun/Jul 1983) p.368 – review
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.276 no.34 (27 April 1983) pp.3, 6 – credits, review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.50 no.592 (May 1983) pp.133-134 – illustrated credits, review (by Steve Jenkins)
  • Motion Picture Product Digest vol.10 no.23 (11 May 1983) pp.89-90 – review
  • New Musical Express 10 April 1982 p.26 – illustrated note (Thrills: Stayin’ hungry by Beverly Hills)
  • Positif no.269/270 (July/August 1983) p.119 – review
  • Radio Times vol.271 no.3540 (26 October 1991) p.44 – illustrated article (Barry Norman On… by Barry Norman)
  • Screen International no.335 (20 March 1982) p.12 – credits
  • Screen International no.396 (28 May 1983) p.19 – review
  • Screen International no.341 (1-8 May 1982) p.12 – credits (In Production)
  • Sight & Sound vol.51 no.3 (Summer 1982) p.17 – illustrated article
  • Sight & Sound vol.14 no.12 (December 2004) p.78 – review (The Hunger by Ronnie Hackston)
  • Utne Reader March/April 2002 pp.38-40 – illustrated article (The Best Sex Ever)
  • Variety 27 April 1983 p.30 – credits, review