directed by Tony Scott (1983)
It stars David Bowie, Catherine Denuve, Susan Sarandon and includes a cameo by a young Willem Dafoe (playing a street punk) and Ann Magnuson. It features the music of Lou Reed, Bach and an unforgettable performance by Bauhaus of Bela Legosi’s Dead. I mean, there’s “cool”, and then there’s Tony Scott’s erotic vampire mood piece The Hunger.
I first saw this movie a number of years ago and remembered a couple of its visually arresting scenes, including that Peter Murphy performance and the rapid aging sequence with its expert special effects makeup; but I’d forgotten how deeply stylized and truly arty it is. Does the artistry sometimes border on indulgent and slow the whole thing down a little bit? Sure, but it makes you miss the audacity behind this kind of moody, visually artful filmmaking that doesn’t seem so common anymore (even though at the time Roger Ebert dismissed it “a movie that has been so ruthlessly overproduced that it’s all flash and style and no story.”) Scott’s take on vampirism has as much in common with today’s glitter skinned wimpy romance as Roxy Music does with The Jonahs Brothers; Marlene Deitrich with Miley Cyrus.
The film was based on a novel by Whitley Strieber (of Communion fame) but major changes were made to the ending to satisfy the perceived need of audiences everywhere to see thousand-year-old vampire Denueve suffer for her misdeeds. A remake is planned at Warner Brothers, but I have very little confidence anything as cool as the original will roll off the assembly line… though Scott, who is deeply involved, has this to say: “I’m not going to tell you how we’re doing it, but I’m controlling it and it’s gone to the next level. It’s not a reinvention or reinterpretation, it starts in New York and it ends up in Sao Paulo, so it’s a very different movie, but it springboards off the original. We’re writing it right now and we’ve got a great writer, Erin Wilson.”