The Hunger, a film by Tony Scott (Man On Fire, The Taking of Pelham 123) is a vampiric work of art that is, in many ways, a few pints [of blood. (enter maniacal laughter here)] away from a masterpiece. Certainly for Mr. Scott, this film is one of his most creative and interesting pieces and often gets overlooked due to the Hollywood appeal of his other films like: Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Crimson Tide and Deja Vu. Tony Scott has an obvious penchant for creating stylized, and hard-hitting action, but in The Hunger, we see a softer, less commercial, and certainly more seductive quality. This, of course, gives us artists something to “sink our teeth into.”
The film begins in hard-rocking goth fashion, with the song “Bela Legosi’s Dead”* by the English band Bauhaus, and feature’s a stunningly lascivious nightcap between our two vampires (John and Miriam) and their victims (classically 1980’s with leather and “flock of seagulls” hair). Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) is a 2,000 year old vampire of Egyptian origins whose centuries-old relationship with companion John (David Bowie) is on decline. Several hundred years after Miriam’s love-bite, John comes down with a condition of rapid aging and, as a race to a cure, seeks out Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon), a specialist in premature aging. After John withers to nothing, Miriam finds a new partner in Ms. Roberts, but is Miriam’s effort in vein/vain?
Arguably one of the most visual and stylistic pieces in vampiric film history, The Hunger is the byproduct of an ingenious formula. The acting is superb, Catherine Deneuve, “the grande dame” of french cinema is ravishingly elegant and mysterious, and each scene is highly polished in the way only a young Tony Scott knows how.
That’s one of the beauties of youth – that a young director’s (39) first feature film hold with it a vibrant, adroitly creative energy (like Sam Mendes’ debut, American Beauty). However, to many (including myself) the plot begins to slacken once Bowie’s character is set to rest. In a short time, we are able to witness and appreciate John’s joie de vivre and passionate companionship with Miriam. John’s departure from the film seems only to set the stage for the sherry-influenced lesbian seduction which, although quite smoldering (even in 2009 standards) becomes one of the film’s last memorable parts.
You’ll be back. When the hunger knows no reason! And then you’ll need to feed, and you’ll need me to show you how!
The Hunger is a visually-stunning, but often highly-underrated film that is a must-see for fans of vampire movies and films that happen to encapsulate the visual stylings of its time. However, for most audiences (especially the ‘philistine-types’ [you know who you are] with little appreciation for the talents of Deneuve, Bowie and Sarandon) the movie will be amorpheus (this is not a reference to The Matrix) and will drag at parts. I found it to be intriguing, sometimes chilling, and moreover, quite “to die for.”
Have a happy Fangs-giving everybody!
Stay tuned Wednesday night, when I unleash the review for part deux of the Twilight Series, New Moon.
*The reference and use of the song “Bela Legosi’s Dead” is notable, as Bela Legosi, the Hungarian actor that became the original Dracula in the 1931 classic.