Tony Scott’s debut film The Hunger starring David Bowie, Catherine Denueve, and Susan Sarandon is a haunting and feverish Bisexual Gothic Romance. Easily one of the best Queer Women Vampire movies I’ve seen and one incredibly sexy 96 minutes.
If you desire to know more come along with me for a spoiler filled recap. Trigger Warnings involve Blood and Scientific Testing On Animals!
Act One: Forever doesn’t last forever.
Scene One: The film opens up at a New York City Goth Club (London’s legendary Batcave making a cameo) as Bauhaus dance in a cage playing their impeccable classic Bela Lugosi’s Dead. The music is interspersed with cuts to Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Denueve) in a car with her husband John Blaylock (David Bowie) they arrive at the club where they pick up two men and bring them back to their House for what starts as sex but quickly devolves into Violence as the two lovers feed. Here is where the Bauhaus cuts out and we’re instead cutting back and forth between two monkeys in a cage being overseen by Neurologist and Researcher Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon.) Coincidentally as John and Miriam devour their lovers so too does one Monkey angrily devour his own lover. The pairing of these two images at once feels shocking and dichotomous but gives way to a Harmony as we begin to realize that while John and Miriam both look sophisticated they’re really not much better than wild animals. The connection between the Monkey and The Vampire is a motif that means a couple different things and pops up throughout the movie.
Scene 2: The Next morning the Blaylocks are sitting down in their living room watching TV and reading a book when the subject of aging comes up.
John: I’m worried, you promised me forever but I’m getting old! That’s not forever! I don’t want to end up like your previous lovers!
Miriam: I just couldn’t stand losing another lover to aging oh how awful! I love you so much darling!
Doorbell: Buzz Buzz Buzz
Alice: Hey, it’s me Alice, your teenager friend! I’m here for my Violin recital and lessons!
Scene 3: Dr. Roberts is at a book signing, signing copies of her book on Aging when she is beguiled by the sight of Miriam in the back of the line.
Dr. Roberts: Oh wow, who is she? She is extremely pretty!
Miriam: I’d like to talk to you please 🥺 also wow you’re the spitting image of Susan Sarandon!
Rude Lady: Stop flirting and sign my book!
After The Book Signing Dr. Roberts takes Miriam on a tour of the hospital and explains her research and breakthroughs on manipulating biological clocks.
Dr. Roberts: As you can see with these decrepit monkeys running about we’re quite able to make the clocks tick faster but we can’t make them tick slower or backwards! I’m certain with enough time and Monkeys I’ll be able to stop aging!
Miriam: These Monkeys remind me of my husband, anyways I’m not sure you can help me out but thank you anyways for the tour!
Scene 4: John now looks like a guy in his 60s is pulling hair off his head and moaning about liver spots while we ponders over his appearance, Miriam, and aging.
John: Oh you pretty thing, I can’t stand losing you! This Dr. Roberts Woman is my only hope I should go see her!
Miriam: Look she’s very smart but they don’t know anything yet love! I’m sorry but it looks like you’re going to just get older and older!
John: You’re wrong! There’s still hope, there’s still time! I won’t lose you and forever! *he runs out of the house and heads to the clinic to meet Dr. Roberts.*
Scene 5: John meets Dr. Roberts and begs her for her assistance. She initially brushes him off thinking he’s a crank and she’s also got an upcoming meeting with financiers her boyfriend and colleague Tom Haver (Cliff DeYoung) set up
John: Dr. Robert please help me! Just yesterday I was 30 year old man, now I’m at least twice that and aging rapidly.
Dr. Roberts *skeptically* Yeah alright, you wait here about 15 minutes while I take care of this appointment I have.
Unbeknownst to John she lies to him and instead gives a two plus hour presentation on Monkey aging where in a series of cuts we juxtapose footage of a Monkey aging to death with John aging at about the same rate. It’s rather disconcerting to watch and really well done on the makeup and effects departments! After the presentation John now 100+ years old tells Dr. Roberts it’s too late now! And he leaves her now piqued interest to flee back to his house. When he gets home he mopes around while Miriam is out until he hears Alice at the door again. It’s not one of her scheduled days but she won’t be available tomorrow and wants to leave a note for the Blaylocks. John at this point is soooo old she doesn’t recognize him at all. Sadly, in a fit of desperation to stave off the inevitable John kills her and drains her blood in a very sad but also tastefully shot scene (we don’t actually see Bowie murder a teenager, just blood splatter some sheet music.) It doesn’t help.
Scene 6 Miriam arrives home to find John is now a walking corpse.
John: Kiss me and kill me! I can’t go on like this anymore, I’m just way too old to function now!
Miriam: Oh John, I love you! That means I can’t kill you. Codependency is a major weakness of Vampires afterall… OH GOD WHY DID YOU KILL ALICE!?
Miriam takes Alice’s corpse down to the incinerator to dispose of it all the while John follows like a gremlin begging for death.
John: Kill *falls down the stairs and breaks his back* me… ow.
Miriam: No! I’ll never do that! Instead I’m going to lock you undying in a coffin and put you next to the 6-8 other coffins holding all my previous lovers. I love you all way too much to actually let you die! Now I’m single boohooo! Goodnight John! *locks him up in a forever box while doves just hang around casually by an open skylight.*
Act Two: But It Might Work For Us.
Scene 1: Dr. Roberts arrives a day or so later looking for John where instead she finds Miriam No longer in mourning and now single and very ready to mingle.
Dr. Roberts: Oh, I was looking for John Blaylock, is your husband home? I believe him now!
Miriam: No, he’s in uhhh Switzerland now at a hmm clinic. That’s it! He’s at a clinic in Switzerland! Please come in though!
Dr. Roberts: Of course! I’m not about to leave a clearly sad beautiful Woman alone when I can comfort her!
Miriam: Do you like
Dr. Roberts: Oh no, I don’t like
Miriam *seductively* Oh, but you’ll love this one. *pours two glasses*
Dr. Roberts *clearly into it* Oh yeah, I’ll drink to that. Say this is a nice place here! Everything in it is so old, and hey! This bust of a beautiful Woman looks just like you!
Miriam: Oh thank you! My family got these mostly. Also whatever do you mean darling? I’m not that old! hahahaha. Anyways, I’m so lonely in this house now *pouts sexily* I miss my husband dearly if only there was something or someone to help!
Dr. Roberts: Mrs. Blaylock you’re trying to seduce me aren’t you!
Miriam: Only if you’re into it. *wink*
Dr. Roberts: Yeah, I’m thinking I’m into it! Bisexuality is suddenly a thing I’ve discovered about myself!
The two new lovers embrace for an incredibly hot sex scene between Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon where Dr. Roberts is transformed both in a metaphorical queer awakening way and in a very literal she’s a vampire now way. The whole movie leads up to this and it’s the best part of the film by far!
Scene 2: Some time later Dr. Roberts is having dinner with her boyfriend Tom Haver where Tom impressively based only on length of time and food order figures out what is going on.
Janet Sarah! What were you doing with that Woman for three hours?
Dr. Roberts: Oh come on
Brad Tom, she just invited me over for Gay Sex Sherry!
Tom: You don’t even like
Women Sherry! Something is clearly wrong with you besides, you sent the oysters (hoho!) back and now you don’t even want to eat the steak you ordered. I think you need to see a Doctor!
Dr. Roberts: Goddamnit I am a Doctor! But if it’ll make you feel better, I’ll have my boys at the clinic check me out!
Scene 3: At The aging clinic some blood work is done where it turns out that Alien non Human blood is fighting for dominance in Dr. Roberts system. Everyone tells her to go see a blood specialist but in her panic she instead returns to Miriam.
Dr. Roberts: What did you do to me!? I’m shaking and aching and I’ve got this gnawing hunger! I’m freaking out man!
Miriam: Yeah, gay sex does that to a person, it’s that good! Well that and I turned you into a Vampire like me and you need to feed for the first time on human blood or you’ll starve yourself silly.
Dr. Roberts: The sex bit is fine, but the eating people part is evil! I’ll never do it! *she collapses from hunger weakness* ohhh but can I borrow a bed while I recover?
Miriam: Sure, once I get you in bed I’ll step out for a bit and catch us a Man to eat.
*A few hours later*
Miriam: I’m back Sarah! Come drink this random man’s blood with me! it’s the only thing that will make you feel better!
Dr. Roberts: Noooooo I’ll never do it! *she doesn’t do it*
Tom: Where is she? I’m genuinely worried about Sarah, I’m actually a decent guy in one of these movies. That’s pretty rare now that I think about it. I’ll go look for her, I bet Miriam has seen her! *he drives to Miriam’s* Open up lady please! I’m very scared for my Girlfriend!
Miriam: Oh, you must be Tom! Dr. Roberts is upstairs in bed. She’s not looking very good, I’ll take you to see her! *takes him upstairs*
Tom: Oh God! Sarah what’s wrong, you look like a mess! I’m going to pick you up and take you out of here to a Doctor!
Dr. Roberts *fighting back the Hunger* Leave now! I don’t want you here! *weakly pushes him away*
Tom: Oh! You’ve gotten delusional, I really can’t leave you now! Alley oop! *he picks her up, where she finally loses all control, attacking and killing him with one of the ankh necklace daggers the vampires use to draw blood*
*a few minutes up to an hour passes*
Miriam: Ah see! Murder and blood drinking wasn’t so bad was it? Here embrace me as a lover and you’ll soon forget all about your old life as we spiral into centuries long codependency with one another! I love you so much and will never let you go!
Just then as they’re hugging, Dr. Roberts still not liking the whole kill and eat people thing stabs Miriam with the dagger and in the two’s struggle they end up back in the doves and old people room where the movie’s weird ending happens as all of Miriam’s old crusty lovers burst out of their coffins and torment and chase Miriam off of the landing causing her to plummet all the way down to the bottom of the house. After Miriam lands with a thud all the old people promptly die and turn to dust. Later we see Dr. Roberts in an apartment in London and Miriam’s voice desperately begging for Sarah to let her out of a coffin. The end!
These Violent Delights Have Violent Ends
The Hunger has two main themes and Hungers. The agony of aging. Seeing all you’ve wanted and accomplished slip away from you as the years catch up. David Bowie demonstrates this supremely well his voice and physical mannerisms getting slower, scratchier, and more desperate by the minute and sometimes even between words. He’s Hungry for Youth, he got a taste of forever and he wants more, lots more! And if he can’t have it he’d might as well die. The Second act about Dr. Roberts is more about passion, desires, and control. Sarah Roberts wants it all. She wants to stop aging, secure funding, experiment on Monkeys, and become a famous author. She also discovers she wants Women after meeting and being seduced by Miriam Blaylock. What she doesn’t want though is to be controlled by others. When it’s all laid out that Miriam’s love is one of possession and full devotion she rejects her Vampire lover quite violently. One Man doesn’t get any of what he wants. One Woman gets at least most of it (she loses Tom though which is sad.) Looks wise thpe movie is an early indicator of the slick and cool style Tony Scott will bring to most of his movies. The lighting and costumes are full Goth with dark mood lights and pretty dark colors everywhere! The music is kind of a let down though. Bauhaus only has one song!
That’s all for The Hunger an early 80s Classic I highly recommend, anyone who likes dark Romantic movies or light horror and Vampires (or any of the three leads) should check this out immediately.