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DVD Review: The Hunger (1983)

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The Hunger (1983)

Directed by Tony Scott

DVD Review: The Hunger (1983)There are any number of vampire movies available to buy or rent and new ones are being produced all the time, but the majority of on-screen vampires share one thing in common: the long sharp teeth. There are, of course, a few movies that break the mould and have a slightly different kind of vampire. The Hunger is one of these movies.

The movie is set in 1980s New York. David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve

star as John and Miriam Blaylock who, on the face of things, appear to be a normal couple. They look very respectable and live in a house that is large enough to indicate that they are also a wealthy couple. They even venture out in daylight hours; so there is nothing about them that screams vampire, but that is exactly what they are. The movie begins by showing the Blaylocks in a nightclub, where they pick up a younger couple and take home with them. Swinging session? It certainly looks that way until the Blaylocks slit their victim’s throats, and feed on their blood.

The Blaylocks don’t use a normal common all garden knife for this messy work though. Each of them wears an Ankh around their neck and their Ankhs are a little different from most because the bottom section pulls away to reveal a short, sharp blade and it is this they use whenever they want to feed.

Flashback sequences indicate that the Blaylocks have been together for a very long time and that Miriam, who is the oldest, was around and busy doing her thing in Ancient Egyptian times. John, on the other hand, is only the most recent of a long line of companions. Miriam promised John that they would be together forever, but it soon becomes apparent that Miriam was either indulging in a spot of wishful thinking, or was lying to him, because John, like Miriam’s former lovers, has started to age and there is a reason for this.

John and Miriam have to sleep six out of every twenty-four hours and feed once every seven days. The problem is that John can no longer sleep at all and, deprived of his beauty sleep, time is playing catch up.

Susan Sarandon plays premature ageing specialist, Dr. Sarah Roberts, who has found a connection between sleep and the aging process. Miriam has read one of the doctor’s books and goes to see her, but if she finds out anything that could help John the viewer is kept in ignorance. It is obvious, however, that Miriam is very attracted the doctor.  

John also goes to see Roberts, but when he shows her the age spots on his hand and informs her that he was “30 years old this morning,” she takes him for a nut and leaves him in the visitors lounge, promising to return in twenty minutes time, but not intending to do so. There then follows quite a sad and dramatic scene where Roberts sits and watches a baboon test subject age very rapidly, die, and turn to dust. While all of this is happening John is still waiting in the visitors lounge and doing some rapid ageing of his own.

When John returns home Miriam is not there. Iin fact, she seems to be out and about and doing her own thing a lot of the time. After such a long time together you would expect that she would want to be at John’s side so that she could spend as much time with him as possible. Apparently this is not the case though, and I had to ask myself how much she cared for him in the first place. Was he really her love, or just a disposable companion? This is a good question because as soon as John’s strength fails him she carries him up to a room at the top of the house, places him inside a wooden box, and stacks him alongside the rest of her former lovers. Then, with no mourning period at all, Miriam turns all of her attention to wooing Dr. Roberts and has soon bedded her and infected her with vamphyric blood. This time however, Miriam may have bitten off more than she can chew because Roberts does not appreciate a new lifestyle being forced upon her and she has no intention of playing by Miriam’s rules.

The Hunger is refreshingly different from the majority of vampire movies. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review one difference is that fangs have been replaced with blades, but this is not the only thing that makes The Hunger a little different. In many vampire movies the vampires are busy trying to increase their numbers, but The Hunger has just two vampires and Miriam only decides to create another one when she needs to replace her companion. These vampires walk by day, have a strict sleep pattern to adhere to and, let us not forget that, in this movie, the female of the species is very much the dominant partner. I think it might be fair to say that, back in the 80s, The Hunger broke new ground.

Bowie and Deneauve are well cast as the Blaylocks, and Susan Sarandon was an equally good choice to play Dr. Roberts. Few people would argue that Deneuve and Sarandon are both very capable actors. David Bowie is a totally different kettle of fish. He is famous for singing, rather than acting, but you might be surprised to learn that Bowie does have a certain flair for acting and, if you have never been exposed to his acting talents, The Hunger is a good place to start because he has a little more time on screen that he does in many of his other movies.

DVD: The Hunger (1983))

Buying &

Rental Options

The Hunger has a runtime of just over an hour and a half and although it is quite bloody in places, it is not a high action particularly gory or high action movie. It's pretty slow moving in fact, but it has a reasonably good storyline, a capable cast, and a pretty good twist at the end. It will not be to every viewer’s taste, and the movie received some very negative reviews when it was first released, but The Hunger has since achieved a cult following so it is also true to say that many people love this movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Runtime: 93 mins
Certificate: 18 (UK), R (USA)


Catherine Deneuve
David Bowie
Susan Sarandon

Cliff De Young
Beth Ehlers
Dan Hedaya
Rufus Collins
Suzanne Bertish
James Aubrey

Ann Magnuson
John Stephen Hill 
Shane Rimmer
Douglas Lambert
Bessie Love

John Pankow
Willem Dafoe
Sophie Ward
Philip Sayer
Lise Hilboldt
Michael Howe
Edward Wiley

Richard Robles
George Camiller
Oke Wambu

Kent Miller
Fred Yockers
Susan Hunter 
James Wassenich
Allan Richards
Hilary Six
Carole-Ann Scott 





Miriam Blaylock
 John Blaylock
 Sarah Roberts

Tom Haver
Alice Cavender
Lieutenant Allegrezza
Charlie Humphries

Young Woman from Disco
Young Man from Disco
Arthur Jelinek
Disco Group
TV Host

1st Phone Booth Youth
2nd Phone Booth Youth
Girl in London House
Boy in London House
Waiting Room Nurse
1st Intern
2nd Intern
Egyptian Slave



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