Imagination Connoisseur, Jeffrey Mao, takes a savage bite out of 1983’s THE HUNGER (imdb), directed by Tony Scott.
Greetings, Rob and all Robservers:
Once again, it is I, the Chairman, bringing a review of Tony Scott’s 1983 horror film ‘The Hunger’ fresh from my recent purchase of Warner Archives Blu-Rays.
I feel comfortable discussing things completely with spoilers because the film is fairly old and well known in the genre communities. Also, there are a lot of unanswered questions and issues open for discussion that I feel everyone who is interested should still watch the film and make up their minds.
So, to begin with, the film does not have a whole lot of plot, and it’s a tight 97 minutes. David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve play John and Miriam Blaylock, an apparent married couple living in a fabulous mid-town New York mansion and spending their nights at Gothic clubs picking up victims to sate their vampiric hunger. Along the way, the couple come to know a medical researcher named Sarah Roberts, played by Susan Sarandon.
Sarah is researching the connection between sleep and longevity, and it piques the Blaylocks’ interest as it seems like they are essentially immortal and might have something to contribute to and learn about from Sarah.
I’m kind of not sure exactly how all the science is supposed to work, but at least with this film, it appears that the vampirism on display here is more ‘biologically’ based, and less of the Stokerian variety, without the no shadows, reflections, aversion to garlic and other kinds of rules. Although they still do have increased strength, and the ability to make people see and hear things.
Nothing Lasts Forever
In this scenario, it appears that Miriam is the vampire queen as she has apparently “lived” since ancient Egyptian times. It’s unspecified how she became a vampire, just that she has been one since then, and she selects people to become her companion, and occasionally the companion to her and John. She and John appear to have been together for at least two centuries based on the flashbacks to the past and the costumes they wear. After Miriam seduces and converts Sarah, she tells her that she will be immortal, however that’s not the case. John undergoes rapid aging while trying to meet with Sarah initially. I’m wondering if this is a case of the vampire powers wearing off after a time. Clearly, this is something that Miriam is used to, as she knows to keep John’s decaying body in a special coffin alongside all of her previous companions.
It would have been interesting to see more of the science unravelled as Sarah and her team discuss their initial findings. Apparently, Miriam’s blood is not human and when mixed with Sarah’s blood, a conflict between the two different types of blood starts. I suppose this might be where the idea that the vampire film genre in general, and this film in particular, is an allegory for the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The end is where I am kind of left scratching my head. I guess that the reason why Miriam’s “deceased” former companions rise up and confront her is because Sarah “kills” herself, thus rejecting Miriam. This rejection somehow angers the dormant companions enough such that Miriam is deemed no longer worthy to be the queen? I suppose that this interpretation makes sense in that we see, right before the end credits roll, that Sarah is “alive” and well in London and has already gathered two companions, a boy and girl, to her side. This might explain how Miriam became the queen herself all those millennia ago. You need to show that the queen is not so powerful that you are willing to exist in her thrall, but that you have your own free will, and your choice is to kill yourself. But in killing yourself, you actually free yourself and become more powerful. I deliberately didn’t try to read any kinds of interpretations of what the end of “The Hunger” means, so maybe I’m on the mark or not.
Finally, you mentioned how the Warner Archives Blu-Ray’s have a higher bit-rate than normal. THE HUNGER was clocking in around 34-35 Mbps. To compare, I put in the POKÉMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU (imbd) Blu-Ray, also from Warners, and it was only around 20-21 Mbps. So, we’re talking quite a significant difference. This is one aspect of physical media that I feel is relatively under appreciated, and highlights the fact that all Blu-Rays are not made the same.
My hypothesis is that the big studio operations try to cheap out and use higher compression to press the discs more quickly, whereas the smaller, boutique labels tend to try to max out the available disk capacity. Rob, you can correct me if I am wrong.
Unfortunately, I don’t know there’s any way to find out what the bit rate is on a disc other than getting it from a review, and it would only be enthusiasts who would know to check the bitrate. Now, I’m going to check the bit rates on all discs out of curiosity and reporting back if I find any anomalies.
Well, those are my thoughts on THE HUNGER, and I didn’t mention anything about the lesbian stuff until now, because well, it’s the most well-known part of the film and I wanted to look at the other aspects of the film.
Thanks, and stay hungry,