Horror Movie A Day: THE HUNGER (1983) You’ll be back when the hunger knows no reason. And then you’ll need to feed.
Published at: Oct. 9, 2008, 4:50 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.]
To be perfectly honest and up front, I wanted to like this movie a lot more than I actually did.
I don’t think THE HUNGER is a bad movie by any means. David Bowie, naked Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve, Dick Smith’s amazing make-up work and Tony Scott’s first time filming a feature all combine into a bizarre, unique movie that is about as far away from standard and formulaic as can be.
It’s an operatic film that delves deeply into the seduction and sensuality of vampirism with an eye towards some pretty heavy social commentary. Much has been made of the allegory to AIDS and while I can definitely see that, I think foremost on Tony Scott’s mind was an exploration of addiction. You have addiction to youth, addiction to love, addiction to pleasure, all which can be framed quite well on a vampire tale.
Basically the film is about Catherine Deneuve’s character, Miriam. She’s the head vampire as it were and for some reason those she infects (always people she loves) reach a point where they begin rapidly aging and have to be secreted away. For they can never die, only rot and rot and rot.
David Bowie’s character, John, is her most recent lover, partner in life and passion. When we meet them, they are both incredibly young, on the hunt in an ‘80s emo/vamp nightclub.
Bowie’s starting to show the first signs of aging, which begins with horrible insomnia. Deneuve knows her latest lover is going to end up like all of her previous, but this time there’s a little hope.
Susan Sarandon’s character, Sarah, is a scientist,, exploring aging and it’s ties to sleep. She just came out with a book and her experiments are coming close to yielding real results. This catches the eye of both Deneuve and Bowie, who decide to test the fences, see how real her research is.
But they don’t have much time. Bowie is aging more and more rapidly, an effect done by make-up maestro Dick Smith, known for being the best in the business for aging make-up. His work on Max Von Sydow in THE EXORCIST and Dustin Hoffman in LITTLE BIG MAN is not only great for its time, but still holds up today. His work in THE HUNGER is no exception.
The film really does bring up some really fucked up ideas. My favorite aspect was what Deneuve does with her lovers. Like I mentioned above, none of her lovers can die, but they waste away to nothing, living out a hellish eternity. Know where they live out their golden years? In boxes stacked together in the attic.
Wow, how fucked up! “I love you. The rest of you, be nice to him… I love you all… don’t mind the daddy longlegs and the mothballs…”
The movie has all that going for it and I appreciate it. I just didn’t fall head over heels in love with the world and characters. I won’t say I wasn’t involved, but I think I can nail how much I was involved. When David Bowie was on screen, I was really into the movie. His wonderfully understated performance, the desperation as he begins to grow old and the incredible Dick Smith make-up really hooked me into the movie.
When he’s packed away and put in the attic, we’re left with the second half of the movie being Susan Sarandon’s temptation and fall into being Deneuve’s new lover. And it’s hot, don’t get me wrong. Lesbian vampires, I mean… come on. I am a man afterall.
But as characters go, I was more interested in the desperation of Bowie than the more standard infection and denial stuff in the second half.
Tony Scott’s visual flair is definitely on display here. He plays around with editing and audio to give the audience a different experience than they’re used to. As a result, the movie is raw. The filmmaking isn’t as jittery as his most recent work has been or as fucking nuts… keep in mind, they still probably edited on film when this was made and you can’t AVID fart without the AVID. You can tell Scott is experimenting a bit here and that definitely helps this from being a dull experience.
Final thoughts: The atmosphere, mood, make-up and performances are top of the line, but I felt a little detachment once Bowie left the picture. I would definitely recommend the movie to most, it’s just not one I was fully able to give myself over to. However, do keep an eye out for a two-line early role from a famous actor wanting to use the phone...
Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October:
Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here!
I’ve added yet more titles to the list, so be sure to click above and check out the new titles in the drawing pool.
Now it’s time to pull the next HMAD!
Next up is: