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Tony Scott
Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon, Cliff De Young, Beth Ehlers, Dan Hedaya, Rufus Collins, Suzanne Bertish, James Aubrey
Writing Credits:
James Costigan, Ivan Davis, Whitley Strieber (novel), Michael Thomas

Nothing Human Loves Forever.

The spellbinding tale of a vampire couple who suffer from an incessant hunger for human blood, aging quickly when they cannot receive it, and the young unsuspecting scientist who could help them in their quest for eternal life.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$1.832 million on 775 screens.
Domestic Gross
$5.979 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 8/18/2015

• Audio Commentary with Director Tony Scott and Actor Susan Sarandon
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Hunger [Blu-Ray] (1983)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 19, 2015)

David Bowie maintained a pretty low profile for the first few years of the Eighties, but he re-emerged with a vengeance in 1983. Not only did he put out Let’s Dance - possibly his most popular album ever - but also he mounted a hugely successful concert tour and starred in two movies. Only Bowie diehards remember Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, but The Hunger remains well-known by plenty of folks without an intense interest in the singer.

The Hunger focuses on three main characters. Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) researches longevity and regards age as a disease that can be possibly be cured. John (Bowie) and Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) are vampires who maintain a solitary lifestyle and emerge mainly to “feed”, though they also tutor teenage Alice Cavendar (Beth Ehlers) on the violin.

Miriam is the one who brought John to the undead lifestyle, and she transformed him back in the 18th century. Apparently he gets a more finite lifetime than she, as he starts to age rapidly. John tries to consult with Sarah about ways to halt this process, but she brushes him off as a nut. Sarah rethinks this prejudice when she sees him a couple of hours later and notices that he aged decades in that span.

John tries to prolong his life with a feeding but this doesn’t help. He soon passes, which leaves Miriam in need of a new “soul mate”. When Sarah stops by to ask about John, Miriam develops an interest in the doctor, who she chooses to be her new partner. The rest of the movie follows these developments.

Many criticized director Tony Scott for his emphasis on style over substance, and in flicks like Man on Fire, this causes significant narrative problems. However, for Hunger, these choices work. The film suffers from a very thin plot, so Scott’s decision to give the tale a slick visual style makes it significantly more compelling than it might have been.

Granted, this leaves us with slow pacing and a few too many “music video” moments. The flick starts with an almost campy look at a Bauhaus lip-synch performance of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, and that clearly sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Some of the choices seem a bit over the top, but at least Scott establishes a distinctive tone for the movie and gives it a visual presentation that matches the erotic vampire theme.

While the tale does seem to move pretty slowly, this makes sense given the characters. After all, time is usually so meaningless for the undead that the way the flick idles conveys that concept well. Even when time becomes precious to John, he can’t quite break out of established patterns, and the movie continues that sense of time as infinite.

The film’s unhurried pacing makes the occasional scenes of violent more effective. The action doesn’t become rushed or frenetic, but it brings things to life nicely. These scenes remain slick within the movie’s tone, and this conveys the brutality even more strongly. Don’t expect graphic violence, but the bloodshed stands out due to the elegance of the rest of the flick.

Maybe it’s my Bowie bias that makes me feel this way, but I think the flick peters out somewhat after John leaves the film. The flick’s mild energy dissipates at that time and it turns into more of a lesbian fantasy. That might be enough for many people, as the love scene between Deneuve and Sarandon remains famous. I think the movie’s last act lacks much spark, though, and it concludes in a somewhat nonsensical manner.

One odd choice comes from the introduction of Lt. Allegrezza (Dan Hedaya), the cop who investigates the disappearance of Alice. He pops up in the middle of the movie and reappears once toward the end. That’s it; Allegrezza is a minor plot distraction who serves no purpose in this tale. Perhaps he’s more prominent in the source novel, but here he does nothing and goes nowhere.

Those who look toward The Hunger as a horror film will leave disappointed. It’s really more of a gothic sex fantasy than a traditional vampire flick, and it doesn’t even bother with many of the usual genre conventions; the movie never refers to the characters as vampires, and they seem to suffer no ill effects from exposure to daylight. Despite slow pacing and a thin story, the film’s visual style works well for it and carries the day to make The Hunger a pretty intriguing piece.

Young actor footnote: keep an eye out for a very quick shot of Willem Dafoe as “2nd Phone Booth Youth”!

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

The Hunger appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Despite the movie’s age and many potentially challenging visual situations, the transfer consistently looked good.

Sharpness did nicely, as only a few minor examples of softness ever crept into the image. Instead, the film almost always remained detailed and concise, at least within its stylistic design. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and I noticed no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to mar the tramsfer/

No one expects dazzling hues from a vampire movie, and The Hunger indeed offered a suitably restrained palette. A strong blue tint heavily affected the majority of the movie. Occasionally the image provided other tones, with some red mainly due to blood. Nonetheless, blues were the order of the day, and the disc replicated these colors cleanly and smoothly. Blacks were dense and tight, while shadows were appropriately dense but not excessively dark. Very few problems appeared in this strong transfer.

Though not as strong, the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack seemed fine for its age. Speech could be a little thin, but the lines were always intelligible and lacked edginess or other flaws. Music could be a bit rough but remained acceptable most of the time, and effects came across the same way; they showed fair clarity, though they lacked much range. Nothing here impressed, but the audio appeared adequate/

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD release? Audio was a bit clearer and smoother, and visuals showed improved accuracy and definition. The Blu-ray was a good step up in quality.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get an audio commentary with director Tony Scott and actor Susan Sarandon. Both sit separately for this edited piece. Scott heavily dominates the track, as Sarandon only occasionally presents information. When we do hear from her, she offers good notes, as she reflects on subjects like working with Scott and his brother Ridley on separate films, the other actors, and the film’s legacy. She’s bright and funny enough to make me wish she talked more frequently.

Scott also proves lively and engaging. He tells us how he got the assignment for his first feature film, the flick’s visual style and makeup effects, working with the actors and casting, comparisons between the movie and the original novel, the film’s reception at the time and its legacy, and other connected issues. Scott offers lots of good notes that help flesh out our understanding of the shoot and the flick as a whole. Some dead air occasionally mars the piece, but not too much of this occurs, and it remains a solid commentary.

A heavily stylized vampire flick, The Hunger offers little for the gore fiends, but it makes up for its slow pace with an unusually strong feel for its setting. It creates a distinctive environment and invests us in that place nicely. The Blu-ray offers solid visuals, acceptable audio and an engaging commentary. This ends up as a nice product for a mostly interesting movie.

To rate this film, visit the original review of THE HUNGER

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