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The elegant and beautiful Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) lives surrounded by beauty: Renaissance art, ancient Egyptian items ... and lovers like John (David Bowie) who tend to die over the years, while she lives on, ever young. She keeps them looking young, though, until the affair is over and then, age sets in rather fast. John's ageing condition attracts Dr Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) when he resists the call of the grave, but Sarah finds herself far more fascinated by Miriam than she expected. Miriam recognises a soul mate and gives Sarah the cursed blessing of her own blood, which will keep her forever young, too.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
"Bela Lugosi's dead, the bats have left the bell tower..." are the first words we hear, and of course they're lyrics (thanks Daniel Ash), in this stylish feature debut for Tony Scott (of the talented filmmaking Scott family) as he reworks the vampire movie without a single reference to vampires. The Whitley Strieber novel gives way to a remarkably undated film (except for all that cigarette business and the phones). A wild, stylish, sexy and bloody opening sequence sets us up for what's to come: moody gothic with class. And a sense of humour. I mean, what vampire movie have you seen in which they watch Tom & Jerry cartoons?

Perhaps the most sensual of all vampire movies, The Hunger unites - in all senses - the great French queen of sensual cinema, Catherine Deneuve, and the erotic enigma of David Bowie in the early 80s and the then upcoming Susan Sarandon (three eyears before she made The Witches of Eastwick for George Miller). Shot as a darkly romantic, sexually charged story of a certain obsession, if you will, The Hunger has stayed in my movie memory ever since first viewing. Now on DVD, the film is even closer, even more ripe for private enjoyment, even more seductive... Like the scene of Bowie's John and Deneuve's Miriam asleep in the soft mist of morning while a Bach cello piece plays. A flash of memory, suggesting an earlier century as John and Miriam are the musicians. Or the stylishly erotic scene where Miriam seduces Sarah (Susan Sarandon).

The cinematography and the direction already signal something special, a magical and often subtle story of enormous pain, anguish and love.

The effects, ranging from a monkey ageing at 5 years a minute and David Bowie almost keeping up with him, are remarkably sophisticated. But it's the film's emotional strength and intellectual honesty that gives it the grip.

The pictures (and sound) are sensational, a combination of lighting and direction fully realised on this excellent transfer. Scott's choice of shots, angles and povs is faultless as he tells the story on several layers, reaching us on both intellectual and subliminal levels. The film's melancholy tone - often attempted by vampire movies - is exemplary in its complex way.

The DVD comes with commentary from Tony Scott and Susan Sarandon. They are on the same track, but recorded separately and then edited together. This means no chatting - and no mutual back slapping. It's an interesting approach, although I'm not sure it always works for the viewer, with its disconnected feel. But both bring their different angles to the commentary, and often insightful or informative or opinionated. Topny Scott is engagingly casual and cahtty, often spiking his comments with trivia that has some value. Like the retrieval of the film from a fading negative via digital processes to rescue its opulence.

Published October 7, 2004

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(UK, 1983)

CAST: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon, Cliff De Young, Beth Ehlers, Dan Hadeya, Rufus Collins

DIRECTOR: Tony Scott

SCRIPT: Jamies Costigan, Ivan Davis (novel by Whitley Strieber)

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: October 6, 2004

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