We continue our journey through a month of frightening, bloody and violent films. For more, check out our 31 Days of Horror homepage.
Synopsis: Miriam and John Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie) share a passionate longtime love affair, traveling the world and indulging their mutual taste for classical music and the blood of the living. Although John’s love for Miriam might last forever, his youthful vigor will not. After centuries at Miriam’s side, he begins aging at an accelerated rate. Like Miriam’s many past paramours, John seems doomed to a fate worse than death. Under the guise of finding a cure, Miriam begins courting her next conquest – sleep researcher Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon).
The Hunger is loaded with memorable scenes, but the opening sequence gets the nod because it can practically stand on its own as a wickedly stylish short. It cuts between goth pioneers Bahaus performing their apropos classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” the Blaylocks seducing and slaying a pair of New Wave swingers, an ape in a research facility turning homicidal, and the Blaylocks destroying the evidence of their previous night’s escapades. The sequence runs for 7 1/2 minutes with hardly any dialogue, just pure visual indulgence.
There’s a fair amount of bloodletting in The Hunger. Unlike conventional movie vampires, the Blaylocks lack pronounced fangs. They instead carry little blades (disguised as golden ankh pendants), which they use to slash their victims’ jugulars before feeding. Cue the extreme closeups of gushing gashes.
Plenty of giggity-giggity on display here. Deneuve and Sarandon share some steamy lesbian action, Deneuve and Bowie make out in the shower, Bowie seduces a punkette in black stockings and leather, and Deneuve gets friendly with a guy who probably thinks he’s a badass but looks more like Faith-era George Michael. And for good measure, Sarandon hallucinates at dinner and sees gorgeous women swimming nekkid.
Oddly enough, The Hunger isn’t all that scary. The kills are foreshadowed far in advance and are depicted with icy, detached glamor.
As Tony Scott’s directorial debut, The Hunger offers not one clue as to the shape his future work would take. There’s no jittery, ADHD-friendly editing here. If anything, this film feels like an homage to Argento, with its languid pacing and sumptuous cinematography.
Consider enjoying this classic with a nice bottle of Italian red.