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From the Vaults: David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve in “The Hunger”

The late Tony Scott‘s second directorial feature film “The Hunger” opened on April 29th, 1983. Still spoken about as a masterpiece of the vampire genus, the moody and dark horror romance holds up. Sure, these aren’t your traditional nosferatu, but a stylish and trendy ‘modern’ take on the genre for the time.

To be fair, this archival article was brought up today because of the news that Warner Bros. Pictures wants to remake the film. [boooo!]

Artify – Square

Starring Catherine DeneuveSusan Sarandon and David Bowie, the film is a very loose adaptation of Whitley Striber‘s 1981 novel “The Hunger.” A doctor (Sarandon) who specializes in sleep and aging, begins to research vampire couple Miriam and John Blaylock (Deneuve and Bowie), because John is aging years in a single day.

The Hunger (1983) Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie MGM/UA / The Kobal Collection

The pair pose as a wealthy couple who teach classical music in New York City. As John was an accomplished cellist from France in the 18th Century. Although gifted with long life, John begins to age, despite consuming human blood that Miriam promised would grant him immortality.  A case of reading the fine print being important, John *is* infact given live without end, but not youth.

The Hunger (1983)David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve The Kobal Collection / MGM/UA

After giving in to his hunger, John devours his student young Alice Cavender (Beth Ehlers), who Miriam was grooming to be her new companion. This of course doesn’t go over so well, and John begs Miriam to end his life.

This performance of Bowie’s is one of his best, and it really brings home how damn talented he was.  Sure, the film is a wash of 80s goth trappings, but it works, as do the script choices and performances.

Sarandon and Deneuve also absolutely rule here.  If you’ve never experienced THAT scene between the two actresses, you’re in for an experience. Deeply sensual, but without the more in your face style in other entries of the genre, the love scene is shockingly effective in it’s simplistic approach. Not that anyone in their right mind would ever call either of these women simple, because they are anything but.

Sarandon, Deneuve
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Keep your eyes open for appearances by Eugene Levy and Willem Dafoe.

Also, it’s really amusing how much the aged-up John resembles Bowie’s dear friend Gary Oldman now.  Seriously, it’s uncanny.

Bowie’s character John in 1983
Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy” in 2011

Cinematic makeup enthusiasts should also read this article with a collection of makeup artists who worked with Bowie on several films, including Dick Smith, who was behind “The Hunger” look.

Tony Scott never returned to this genre. The auteur sadly took his own life in 2012 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

The Hunger” remains one of my personal favorite vampire films. It’s the right measure of undead fantasy with the perfect cast, and even better soundtrack.  The opening sequence alone featuring Bauhaus’s “Bella Lugosi is Dead” is the perfect beginning for such a delicious flick.

*shamless self plug* I even convinced someone to cosplay the Blaylocks with me for the Bauhaus reunion tour in Los Angeles, 2019. It went well, and I’m ridiculously proud of how well it came out. I don’t smoke, though, so I didn’t fully re create the iconic look.

A selfie (yes really) I took at the Hollywood Palladium, during the Bauhaus show December 1st 2019

If you like “The Hunger,” do yourself a favor and watch season 5 of “American Horror Story,” “Hotel”.  It is a love letter to the fangless vampires, and even features Lady Gaga doing undead undead undead style things while Bauhaus plays.

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