After nearly a decade of directing TV adverts for the company he formed with his elder brother Ridley, Tony Scott made his movie debut with a bisexual vampire love triangle set in New York.
From the opening scene of goth punks Bauhaus howling Bela Lugosi’s Dead in a darkly chic disco, to David Bowie‘s fast-forward ageing in a hospital waiting room, every shot is achingly beautiful. But reviewers slammed it as “MTV wank”. It took three more years before Scott got another movie.
The Hunger is essentially a horror film trying not to be one, and Scott’s glossy style did undermine the terror somewhat, despite stunning makeup effects.
Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) and John (Bowie) Blaylock sip sherry and play chamber music in regal detachment in their exquisitely elegant Sutton Place castle. Their life has been thus for two centuries.
Miriam is an ageless undying vampire whose nibble invests her lovers with incredibly long (but not eternal) youth. Before she acquired John, she had scores of companions dating back to the time of the Egyptian pharaohs.
Although nocturnal prowls are common, Miriam and John are not excluded from daylight forays.
They assuage their blood hunger one day in seven. Neck biting is not necessary. The favoured method is to slice up the victim with a small razor-like knife worn about the neck on an ankh pendant.
The couple would seem to have no problems apart from combatting boredom. But, alas, John has started to age and in organisms of his type, the process is rapid. He ages (or rather, decomposes) from age 30 to 100-plus in a few days – which presents both acting and makeup challenges, both of which are handled very well.
Miriam genuinely loves him, but she accepts the inevitable and looks elsewhere for companionship, targeting Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) – a bright young physician whose work (coincidentally) concerns the ageing process – as his replacement.