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Film / The Hunger

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The Hunger is a British horror film from 1983, the first to be directed by Tony Scott. The screenplay was written by Ivan Davis and Micheal Thomas, and adapted from Whitley Strieber's novel.

Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon), a researcher in premature aging, is contacted by John Blaylock (David Bowie), who is in fact the immortal companion of the beautiful vampire Miriam (Catherine Deneuve). John was led to believe that he and Miriam would share a life of eternal youth when they met in the 18th century, and is most distressed by the fact that his body is suddenly deteriorating. Miriam, however, has known for some time that she needs a replacement companion. And Sarah is about to walk through the door...


  • Adaptational Heroism: As we're not privy to her internal monologue, Miriam's grooming of Alice is much less overt. The implication that Miriam restricts her would-be paramours' ability to resist the requisite seduction is also not evident; in fact, the script's call for a drugging was rewritten into a consensual sex scene after Susan Sarandon rejected the notion that anyone would need to be drugged into bed with Catherine Deneuve.
    • On the topic of Alice, the John of the book commits her murder as much to spite his maker as to satiate his hunger. The former is much less apparent in the film.
  • Age Without Youth: Miriam's companions each suffer this fate after about 300 years or so of age with youth, after which they begin to rapidly wither.
  • And I Must Scream: The fate of Miriam's companions, John included, is to be shut in coffins as their bodies age and become more and more frail but never actually die.
    • Miriam is strongly implied to be condemned to the same fate at the end of the movie when we're shown a coffin, presumably somewhere in the bowels of Sarah's apartment in London, and we hear Miriam's voice calling out for Sarah.
  • Animal Testing: Sarah's investigations into the effects of premature aging, and methods of prevention, on chimps.
  • Asshole Victim: John doesn't deserve what he gets, but he isn't exactly the nicest guy, what with being a murderous vampire and all.
  • Bat Deduction: Sarah's human lover Tom is able to guess that Sarah slept with Miriam and now something is wrong with her because Sarah spent three hours with Miriam and then orders a steak, rare, and doesn't eat it.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Miriam and John, but they avert Beauty Equals Goodness. (The novel goes a step further, revealing that Miriam is part of an Inhumanly Beautiful Race and has to tone down her beauty to walk amongst humans- though she also has to wear a wig, as her own hair is short, scanty fluff.)
  • Beauty to Beast: John doesn't wear the effects of Rapid Aging well.
  • Big Applesauce: The story is set in New York City, to be specific.
  • Big Bad: Miriam Blaylock, a narcissistic vampire seeking a new lover.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: Used to great effect, particularly immediately after the opening sequence.
  • Body Horror: John starts losing his immortal youth and ages rapidly. Miriam has a dozen former vampire lovers tucked away in coffins in one room of her apartment, all of them extremely old and doomed to live as withered ancients forever. And a flashback suggests at least one of them has been that way since ancient Egypt.
  • The Cameo: The opening sequence in the club is set to Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead", and the band's frontman Peter Murphy is prominently featured in the scene performing said song.
    • Also the club itself. It's The Batcave, which was the London goth club during the late 70s and early 80s.
  • Casting Gag: Dr Sarah Roberts and her paramour, Tom Haver, are played by Susan Sarandon and Cliff De Young. Sarandon played Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and De Young played Brad in Shock Treatment. Some couples can only be disrupted by astonishingly charismatic bisexuals.
  • Daywalking Vampire: Sunlight does not affect Miriam or John at all.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Miriam Blaylock, a vampire who seduces both men and women into being her bloodsucking lovers until they age too much to function.
  • Disturbed Doves: They seem to be permanent residents at the Blaylock home.
  • Downer Ending: On the one hand, John and the other lovers take revenge on Miriam and are able to perish while she experiences their And I Must Scream fate for herself. On the other, rather than dying, the turned Sarah moves to London (taking the imprisoned Miriam along) to start anew with lovers of her own. The novel's ending, in which the revenge fails, Sarah dies, and Miriam starts over is no picnic either.
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: The ankh-knife pendants.
  • Eternal Love: Miriam's sales pitch. Unfortunately, her paramours are damned to rot and decay after a few centuries, at which point she will retire them to the attic and begin courting a new companion.
  • Exposition of Immortality: The audience is privy to John's memories of Miriam turning him and Miriam's memories of Ancient Egypt and a previous companion.
  • Horror Hunger: What the title refers to.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: If Sarah is straight, she certainly makes an exception for Miriam. Susan Sarandon actually insisted on this, the original script called for Miriam to drug her, but Sarandon refused to play it as anything but consensual, saying that no one, regardless of sexuality, needed to be coerced into sleeping with Catherine Deneuve.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: The film ends with a We Hate You, Vampire Mom scene, in which all of Miriam's mummy-like former lovers gang up on her and harry her off a balcony.
  • Immortality Bisexuality: Miriam. This becomes particularly clear in the climatic scene when several coffins in Miriam's house prove to contain ancient-looking undead, some of which are dressed in women's dresses and at least one of which (besides John) is dressed in a man's suit.
  • It's All About Me: How does Miriam justify trapping countless people in A Fate Worse Than Death? She's lonely and wants companionship.
  • Kick the Dog: John and Miriam are friends with a precocious teenaged female violinist named Alice, with whom they play classical music (and who Miriam is secretly grooming to be her next lover). And then John kills her to drain her blood. It could be he's doing it as a first revenge against Miriam and being a Crazy Jealous Guy, or that it's actually a case of Cruel Mercy - better for her to die now than to become what he's going to become.
  • Kill the Cutie: See above. Poor little Alice deserved far better.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Miriam is a bisexual variant.
  • Male Gaze: The lesbian sex scene is filmed and framed in such a way. The entire sequence is quite voyeuristic, with pans along legs, asses and breasts.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Miriam turns her mortal lovers into vampires, who then live with her for a couple of hundred years. They then wither and age rapidly to a near paralytic state, and she files them away in coffins in her attic. She does show some regret over this.
  • No Immortal Inertia: Miriam doesn't have to worry about this. Her lovers, on the other hand...
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The film never uses the V-word, despite the fact that it centers around a nigh-immortal woman who drinks blood.
  • One-Book Author: This is the only feature film screenplay credited to one Ivan Davis. (He has only written three other films, all made for TV, and no credits after 1987.)
  • Our Vampires Are Different: To the point that neither novel or film uses the V-word at all. For starters, they have no fangs — Miriam has Egyptian origins and prefers a more cutting approach featuring blades concealed in ankh-shaped pendants. She can display great strength, but has no traditional weaknesses, able to move around in daytime with no issue whatsoever. She and her current companion must feed once a week, a process that requires one murder victim apiece. Finally, a proper amount of deep sleep is needed each day to maintain youthfulness and strength; the first sign a companion is about to decay is chronic insomnia. And while they are immortal, they do not have eternal youth except for Miriam and rapidly decay after a few centuries.
  • Rapid Aging: When a companion's decay sets in, it wastes no time, turning John from a normal, handsome man into a frail old man almost instantly.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Miriam was around when the Sphinx was constructed, and John doesn't look too bad for 200+, at least at first.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Type 3. It excises the novel's lengthy flashbacks to Miriam's past (which reveal her kind existed before humans did) and many doomed lovers, but effectively condenses and focuses on the present-day story, though the ending is significantly altered.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: Don't let their lovely looks fool you; Miriam and John are definitely on the nasty end of this scale. They must feed every week and all victims will die in the process. A person converted by Miriam — it requires a special process — will not be able to resist their new Horror Hunger for long, even if they were a good person before.
  • Smoking Is Glamorous: At least if you're a 1000 year old, eternally youthful vampire. Subverted later during the hospital waiting room scene when the eternal youth thing wears off of John.
  • Unbuilt Trope: As one of the earliest 'angsty vampire' stories, predating Interview with the Vampire by nearly ten years, it's surprising that despite being Jerkass Woobies the vampires are still shown as evil and are ultimately punished in the story. Bloodlust is used as an analogue for addiction rather than sexual lust.
  • Urban Fantasy: It's all about immortal vampires in contemporary New York.
  • Vampire Dance: The opening scene features Miriam and John picking up a goth couple in a club to take home while Bauhaus perform "Bela Lugosi's Dead".
  • Vampires Are Rich: Miriam and John have enough wealth amassed that they can live a lovely, undisturbed existence in their townhouse...why, they even have their very own incinerator in the basement to dispose of all those bodies.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Oh, yes.
  • Wicked Cultured: Miriam and John embody this trope in their elegant surroundings and clothing, for starters. In the film only, it is suggested that they were initially drawn together via their shared gift for playing and appreciation for what, in the present day, is regarded as classical music, and when Miriam makes to seduce Sarah, it's over The Flower Duet and fine wine.
  • Would Hurt a Child: John, who murders the young violinist who came to the house regularly for tutoring. It's also implied (outright stated in the novel) that Miriam was grooming the girl to replace him.