The Hunger ☥


The opening of The Hunger (1983) is the epitome of cool. Bauhaus performs "Bela Lugosi's Dead" on the stage of a goth club. Catherine Deneuve (as Miriam Blaylock) and David Bowie (as John Blaylock), as well-dressed vampire lovers, observe the crowd with a quiet thirst. The stage performance is then inter-cut with menacing scenes of the two coldly seducing and being seduce by a mesmerized goth couple. It ends with flashes of violence, including glimpses of rabid animal experiments, which serves to introduce the third lead: Susan Sarandon as Dr. Sarah Robert.

Tony Scott (the director) employs a similar hypnotic style through out, making for a cinematic experience that emulates a vampire enchantment. That and the longing glances of Deneuve, Bowie, and Sarandon were enough to keep me invested, even if the plot ran away from itself and key details of the mythology were never made clear. Admittedly, I was left somewhat disappointed that the movie didn't actually revolve around an active love triangle between the three stars. It's a tale of serial monogamy with vampire queen Miriam at the center.   

*** spoilers ahead ***

Bowie's share of the film was probably the best half. John Blaylock's struggle with his sudden physical aging felt like the core of a great vampire film, but apparently not this one, as he was withered and coffined for the second part of the movie. For a movie that embraces the bisexual vampire, it's a shame that the higher-ups were probably too timid to explore Bowie's own queerness in the film. Per usual, it would seem sapphic love was as far as they were willing to go.  

That's not to say that I'm not here for the Miriam and Sarah relationship. Sarah offers the excitement of a new fling, and it mostly works. And they're sex is marvelous. It has that kind of surreal style that's inspired the likes of Bryan Fuller's Hannibal. But by the end it feels underdeveloped. It's all worsened by a story that is less interesting in explaining the mechanics of becoming a vampire and one that ignores character motivations for the sake of a twist ending.  

I'm still not sure why all of the lovers Miriam turns into vampires must eventually grow old, yet stay immortal in a coffin. Why is she exempt? That is until the end when she's attacked by her zombie lovers and is seen growing old. Sarah apparently kills herself, refusing to feed on people to stay alive. Then the tacked on ending reveals that Sarah lives on, seemingly taking Miriam's place in the hierarchy. Miriam is heard screaming from inside a coffin, left to suffer like her previous lovers. It's a mess that the studio insisted on, in hopes of a sequel that never happened. Sarandon explains in the DVD commentary

...the powers that be rewrote the ending and decided that I wouldn't die, so what was the point? All the rules that we'd spent the entire film delineating, that Miriam lived forever and was indestructible, and all the people that she transformed [eventually] died, and that I killed myself rather than be an addict [were ignored]. Suddenly I was kind of living, she was kind of half dying... Nobody knew what was going on, and I thought that was a shame.
Excising that ending improves the narrative, so maybe we should just try to ignore it. All in all, I did enjoy the ride. Its aesthetics alone are worth the time. Hopefully, if the upcoming remake makes it off the ground, it'll work out the kinks. It'll have to include better representation, for one. One of the two poc roles I noticed in this one was a black Egyptian slave getting sucked to death by Mariam in the flashback. Maybe if they're going to keep the Egypt connection, Miriam should be played by an Egyptian this time around. Let's go all the way the gayness, too. 

But for some cool goth vibes today, 1983's The Hunger is a good choice.

 

 

This has been day 16 of 31 days of horror


 

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