The Film (4.5/5)
Tony Scott's 1983 vampire film The Hunger is far from a typical vampire film. It is actually pretty far from a typical Tony Scott film. Tony Scott, brother of Blade Runner/Gladiator director Ridley specialized throughout his career in a special brand of frenetic action movie like 1987's Top Gun, and 1995's Crimson Tide, rarely stopping to slow down, and when he did it was with things like the Tarantino scripted action-drama True Romance.
The Hunger is a most unique entry in the vampire genre. First, and foremost while there is an underlying supernatural component just by the nature of eternal life, and the drinking of blood, the vampires of the Hunter operate in a much different manner than typical vampire cinema and literature. They use blades instead of fangs to attack to their victims before draining the blood from them. Also, the film has a more dramatic tone to it than a straight horror film. By this, I don't mean cheesy vampire romance, either. There are certainly romantic elements to the film, but the Hunger plays like a strong drama that happens to deal with the notion of eternal life.
Scott's direction in the film is very moody and atmospheric, and seems to take some visual inspiration from his older brother's earlier Blade Runner. Though the Hunger is set in the 1980's present the film is very soft, foggy, and maintains some of the same mood from that film. The only real negative that I can find is the studio designated pseudo-happy ending.
The performances across the board are excellent with the main trio of Sarandon, Deneuve, and Bowie offering up truly powerful, dramatic performances with excellent chemistry between the three. Oddly enough, the most powerful performance might come from Bowie, who although he kills a child in the course of the film you still feel for considering what he is about to go through, and does.
Scott had begun his career in commercial television, which is somewhat appropriate as The Hunger's open sequence is essentially a promotional video for Bauhau's legendary single Bela Lugosi's Dead. As a teenager being a fan of Bauhaus this scene immediately drew me into the film, and as it has been 15+ years between screenings was one of the things I remembered most in between viewings. Nonetheless, it helps to immediately set a certain tone for the film, and in a way declares that Scott is not going to play normally as he intercuts this moment with visual introductions to our main characters Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) and John (David Bowie) who pick up a young couple to take home to feed upon during the Bauhaus concert. They use blades hidden within an ankh necklace to slice open their necks, and then feed upon their blood. Upon finishing their feeding they dispose of the bodies in the basement.
The next day some 200 years after Miriam turned John into a vampire he begins the process of rapid aging. As it turns out Miriam's promise to John of eternal life and love was only partially true. She would give him eternal youth, until she was tired of him, and then he would age to the state of a near-corpse, a state in which he would remain for eternity. While still resembling a man he goes to a hospital to consult an expert on aging Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) who turns him away thinking he is insane, but a few hours later seeing how he has aged in such a short period decides she wants to help, only to have her advances rejected by John having been offended by her. She comes around to Miriam and John's townhouse the next day, only to find that John is gone, but Miriam is happy to have her in to discuss his condition over drinks. Miriam, immediately infatuated by Sarah doesn't allow the conversation to stop at those drinks, and makes love to her, and in the process cuts Sarah, and allows some of her blood to enter Sarah's body beginning the process of transforming Sarah into Miriam's next vampire slave.
Tony Scott's the Hunger comes to Blu-ray courtesy of the Warner Archives Collection. The Blu-ray is a 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer the preserves the integrity of the original image quite well. Scott's moody visuals looks truly outstanding, an though the film is not extremely colorful colors are quite stable, and natural, detail is excellent throughout, and there is a nice grain structure present. I did notice some minor compression issues during darker moments, but they were quite minor and rarely detract from the transfer as a whole.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track in English. The track sounds quite good with Dialogue and score coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues such as pops, cracks, and hissing.
The WAC Blu-ray of the Hunger includes the DVD commentary track featuring Tony Scott and Susan Sarandon, and the film's trailer in HD.
Tony Scott's debut feature is a unique, powerful entry into the vampire genre that is powered by stunning moody visuals, and 3 powerhouse lead performances. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and the extras though slim include a commentary track that offers an interesting insight into the film itself. The WAC Blu-ray of the Hunger comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.