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Saturday, 3 September 2011

THE HUNGER (1983)

Let's get something straight. I'm not a big fan of vampires. I used to be far more interested in the famous bloodsuckers, but after popular culture being saturated by them over the past decade (Buffy, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Urban Fantasy, and the abomination that is T******t (I can't even type it without wanting to go on an axe rampage) to the point of almost everything having fangs for a while, I'm pretty much all vamp'd out.

Thankfully there are some films that don't adhere to the foppish, forlorn vampire stereotype that has become to prevalent off late, and it makes me love them all the more. One of them is the awesome Near Dark. Further back there's the original flick of The Lost Boys, and a bit further back again offers you The Hunger. This brilliant 1983 vampire movie starred David Bowie, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in a stylish and atmospheric supernatural thriller which is quite possibly one of the most erotically charged vampire films ever made.

The Hunger starts off in high style with a performance of legendary Goth scene pioneers Bauhaus (literally the first shot is Peter Murphy singing 'Bela Lugosi's Dead') in a nightclub, mixed with hots of Deneuve and Bowie being very stylish indeed. Right from those opening moments the style and visual beauty of this film is very apparent.

Adapted from Whitely Strieber's novel of the same name, the film follows two vampires (Bowie and Deneuve) as they drink the blood of unwitting victims and enjoy a life of debauchery. They have no fangs, instead slitting the throats of their victims with miniature daggers hidden in pendants, they don't fly, sparkle or turn into bats, and they are very, very cool. They look for Susan Sarandon's character in earnest, and as the film progresses you find out more details of their quest.

The Hunger isn't a film that bashes you over the head with information, and it's all the better for it. Tony Scott's direction is beautiful, and while the film does get a bit too arthouse for its own good here and there, it's a gorgeous, sumptuously realized work of art that manages to give the vampire myth some mystery back. Yes, it does indeed feature an iconic (and extremely sensual) love scene between Sarandon and Deneuve, but that scene is so beautifully shot and presented that it seems like a painting.

That's what The Hunger is. It's fine art. Its mixture of gothic noir, horror and subversiveness may put some viewers off, but for those of us with an eye for macabre art and films that do things rather differently than the herd, The Hunger is nigh-on perfect. A film to be savoured, studied and appreciated, it's a million miles away from your usual cheap vampire fare, and thankfully light years away from the largely dull vampire tales of the present day.

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