Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Hunger, The

US movie (1983). MGM/Richard Shepherd Co. Pr Richard A Shepherd. Dir Tony Scott. Mufx Antony Clavet, Carl Fullerton, Dick Smith. Screenplay Ivan Davis, Michael Thomas. Based on The Hunger (1981) by Whitley Strieber (1945-    ). Starring David Bowie (John Blaylock), Catherine Deneuve (Miriam Blaylock), Susan Sarandon (Dr Sarah Roberts). 99 mins. Colour.

Beautiful, immortal but not invulnerable (> Immortality; Invulnerability) Vampire Miriam, living in luxury in New York, has seduced each of a long succession of lovers with the promise of eternal youth – a promise she cannot keep: though their youth is vastly protracted, they then suffer accelerated ageing and rapid quasi-death. The latest in this line, John, in desperation seeks help from Sarah, a researcher into the relationship between sleep and death. By the time she takes him seriously it is too late: he has "died" and been placed by Miriam in her dovecote alongside her other undead lovers. Sarah, knowing nothing of this, is seduced by Miriam, who covertly gifts her some of her own blood. Sarah's physical condition rapidly deteriorates; she stabs herself with a sacrificial ankh. As Miriam sorrowfully places Sarah's body in the dovecote, the undead rise up to reclaim her – or, at least, so she perceives (> Perception).

The director is brother to Ridley Scott, and shares his brother's "eye" (the influence of Peter Weir seems also noticeable): shots and lighting are exquisitely composed; there is much shadow-play; rapid intercutting creates alternately tension and, paradoxically, a sense of floating timelessness. A brave attempt to create an art movie using traditional vampire tropes, TH was deeply disliked by many mainstream critics; but it is hardly a Horror Movie either, its coolness and atmosphere of inescapable tragedy negating – at least after the opening sequences – any sense of the "visceral". [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.