THE HUNGER (1983) Reviews and overview


‘Nothing human lasts forever’

The Hunger is a 1983 British-American supernatural horror feature film and the directorial debut of Tony Scott. It is the story of a love triangle between a doctor (Susan Sarandon) who specialises in sleep and aging research and a vampire couple – Catherine Deneuve (Repulsion) and David Bowie (The Man Who Fell to Earth; Cat People soundtrack).

The film is a loose adaptation of the 1981 novel of the same name by Whitley Strieber (Wolfen), with a screenplay written by Ivan Davis and Michael Thomas. The cinematography was by Stephen Goldblatt.



Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) is a beautiful and dangerous immortal vampire, promising specially chosen humans eternal life as her vampire lovers. As the film begins, her vampire companion is John (David Bowie), a talented cellist she married in 18th century France. They live together in an elegant New York townhouse posing as a wealthy couple who teach classical music.

Periodically killing and feeding upon human victims allows Miriam and John to possess eternal youth—or at least that is what John was led to believe. John begins ageing rapidly; he realises that Miriam knew that this would happen and that her promise of “forever and ever” was only partially true. He will have eternal life but not eternal youth.

Feeling betrayed, he seeks out the help of Dr Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon), who specialises in the study of premature ageing, hoping she will be able to help reverse his accelerating decrepitude…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

The Hunger was criticised for its supposedly MTV-style cutting, and was also seen as a filmic manifestation of 80s excess. So negative was the movie’s reception that it was several years before Tony Scott could get another director’s gig’. Cult Movie Reviews

‘What makes The Hunger so much fun is its knowing stylishness, which Mr. Scott, who makes his theatrical film debut here, has brought to movies from a career in commercials and documentaries. Here is a film that, for once, is appropriately served by fast cuts, overlapping dialogue, flashy camera work, wildly fashionable clothes and decor so elegant that only mythical creatures could sit around in it’. The New York Times

The Hunger was the directorial debut of Ridley Scott’s younger brother Tony. Tony has much of a commonality of style with Ridley – you could easily mistake The Hunger for one of Ridley Scott’s films if you did not know the difference. Both brothers have a love of dusky chiaroscuro lighting schemes filtered through hazy smoke-filled rooms, strobe-lit action scenes and the heavily symbolic use of doves.’ Moria 

‘…one of the few vamp movies that actually dives into a major source of the lasting power of the undead mythos, the universal fear of mortality and liver spots. If you want to say it kind of falls apart at the end, I’ll back you up on that but time has proven that this baby’s bite leaves a legit mark’.

‘… The Hunger is one of those vampire movies that eschews most of the typical lore (these vampires have a reflection, which pays off quite nicely in a quick little jump scare early on) and isn’t about big fangs and set pieces. It’s a mood piece, very heavy on character and dialogue, and hardly the spectacle one would expect from Tony Scott if they were familiar with his recent work…’ Horror Movie a Day

The Hunger is tragic and difficult but a classic respectable and credible horror film. Anyone wanting a fast paced, messy, loud splatter movie look elsewhere – this is a different film, but one that still definitely has bite’. The Spooky Isles


Cast and characters:

  • Catherine Deneuve … Miriam Blaylock
  • David Bowie … John Blaylock
  • Susan Sarandon … Sarah Roberts
  • Cliff De Young … Tom Haver
  • Beth Ehlers … Alice Cavender
  • Dan Hedaya … Lieutenant Allegrezza
  • Rufus Collins … Charlie Humphries
  • Suzanne Bertish … Phyllis
  • James Aubrey … Ron
  • Ann Magnuson … Young Woman from Disco
  • John Stephen Hill … Young Man from Disco
  • Shane Rimmer … Arthur Jelinek
  • Bauhaus … Disco Group
  • Douglas Lambert … TV Host
  • Bessie Love … Lillybelle

This post is dedicated to Tony Scott, who died on August 19th, 2012.