The late Tony Scott‘s second directorial feature film The Hunger opened 35 years ago today, on April 29th in 1983. Still spoken about as a masterpiece of the vampire genre, the moody and dark horror romance holds up.
Starring Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon and David Bowie, the film is a very lose adaptation of Whitley Striber‘s 1981 novel “The Hunger”. There is a doctor (Sarandon) who specializes in sleep and aging, who begins to research and a vampire couple Miriam Blaylock and John (Deneuve and Bowie), because John is aging years in a single day.
The pair pose as a wealthy couple who teach classical music in New York City, John being an accomplished cellist from France in the 18th Century. Although gifted with long life, John begins to age, despite consuming human blood with Miriam promised would grant him immortality. A case of reading the fine print being important, John *is* infact given live without end, but not youth.
After giving in to his hunger, John devours his student young Alice Cavender (Beth Ehlers), who Miriam was grooming to be her new companion. This of course doesn’t go over so well, and John begs his wife to end his life.
Tony Scott never returned to this genre sadly, and took his own life in 2012 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
This performance of Bowie’s is one of his best, and it really brings home how damn talented he was. Sure, the film is a wash of 80’s goth trappings, but it works, as do the script choices and performances.
Sarandon and Deneuve also absolutely rule here. If you’ve never experienced THAT scene between the two actresses, you’re in for an experience. Deeply sensual, but without the more in your face style in other entries of the genre, the love scene is shockingly effective in it’s simplistic approach. Not that anyone in their right mind would ever call either of these women simple, because they are anything but.
Keep your eyes open for appearances by Eugene Levy and Willem Dafoe.
Also, it’s really amusing how much the aged-up John resembles Bowie’s dear friend Gary Oldman now. Seriously, it’s uncanny.
Cinematic makeup enthusiasts should also read this article with a collection of makeup artists who worked with Bowie on several films, including Dick Smith, who was behind The Hunger look.
The Hunger remains one of my personal favorite vampire films, it’s the right measure of undead chill with the perfect cast and even better soundtrack. The opening sequence alone featuring Bauhaus’s “Bella Lugosi’s Dead” is the perfect beginning for such a period flick.
If you like The Hunger, do yourself a favor and watch season 5 of American Horror Story, “Hotel”. It is a love letter to The Hunger, and even features Lady Gaga doing vampire things to Bauhaus.