THE HUNGER … 1983 Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon

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The Hunger is a 1983 British romantic horror film directed by Tony Scott. It is the story of a love triangle between a doctor who specializes in sleep and aging research and a vampire couple.

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Miriam Blaylock 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, a talented cellist she married in 18th century France. The film opens in a night club in New York to a live performance from Bauhaus. There they connect with another young couple who are brought home and fed upon by slashing the throats with a bladed Ankh pendant. The bodies are disposed of by an incinerator in the basement of an elegant New York townhouse John and Miriam live in posing as a wealthy couple who teach classical music. The only student shown is a young tomboy violinist named Alice.

Meanwhile the story introduces Dr. Sarah Roberts, a gerontologist who specializes in studying the effects of rapid aging in primates. The opening scene of the night club and gothic performance are laced with scenes of one primate eating another. Later, in the lab, we see that it was a pair of mated primates Dr. Roberts was studying. She and her team, including her boyfriend Tom, are at a loss to explain such behaviour.

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. Approximately 300 years after his turning, John begins suffering insomnia and aging rapidly in only a few days; he realizes 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, who specializes in the study of gerontology, hoping she will be able to help reverse his accelerating decrepitude. Sarah assumes that John is a hypochondriac or mentally unbalanced and ignores his pleas for help. As John leaves the clinic in a rage, Sarah is horrified to see how rapidly John is aging. She tries to help, at which point John rebuffs her.

After returning from the clinic, Alice drops by unexpectedly to say that she cannot attend the next day’s lesson. While inside, she believes John to be his own father due to the accelerated aging. In a last attempt to regain his youth, John murders and feeds upon Alice, whom Miriam was grooming to be her next consort when she came of age, to no avail. As John’s aging advances, he begs Miriam to kill him and release him from the agony of his decrepit body. Weeping, Miriam tells him that there is no release. After John collapses in the basement, Miriam carries him into the attic full of doves and places him in a coffin. There are stacks of other coffins and Miriam asks them all to “be good to him tonight.” Miriam’s former vampire lovers are doomed to suffer an eternal living death, helplessly moaning and trapped in their coffins. Later, a police official comes to the Blaylock residence looking for the missing Alice. Miriam feigns ignorance and claims that her husband is in Switzerland.

Sarah comes looking for John at his home but only finds Miriam. It becomes clear that the two women feel an attraction and Miriam acts upon this as she now feels alone after losing her lover and the young girl she was grooming. In a memorable scene during a piano adaption of The Flower Duet, Sarah says: “Are you making a pass at me, Mrs. Blaylock?” Miriam softly replies: “Miriam, please.” They have a sexual encounter during which, without Sarah being fully aware of it, Miriam bites her arm and a blood exchange occurs in which some of Miriam’s blood enters Sarah’s body. Miriam attempts to initiate Sarah in the necessities of life as a vampire, but Sarah is repulsed by the thought of subsisting on human blood.

Sarah returns home and goes out to dinner with Tom. Clearly possessive and dominating, he becomes argumentative about her 3 hour disappearance at the Blaylock residence of which she is strangely quiet. He moves on to arguing about why she ordered a steak that she wasn’t touching. Sarah claimed it was because she wasn’t hungry. Next we see Sarah back at home vomiting remnants of her meal into the toilet. The next day at the lab, the team investigates Sarah’s blood by Tom’s authority. They reveal she has some kind of infection that is taking over. Confused, Sarah returns to the Blaylock residence to confront Miriam about her sudden changes.

Still reeling from the effects of her vampiric transformation, Sarah allows Miriam to put her to bed in a guest room. Sarah’s partner, Tom, arrives on Miriam’s doorstep, trying to find Sarah. Miriam informs him that Sarah is in the upstairs bedroom. Sarah, starving and desperate, tries to resist the urge to kill Tom but gives in to temptation when Tom refuses to leave her side. Sarah then joins Miriam by the piano and Miriam assures her that she will soon forget what she was and come to love Miriam. As the two kiss, Sarah drives Miriam’s ankh-knife into her own throat, attempting to kill herself as she forcibly holds her mouth over Miriam’s mouth, forcing Miriam to ingest her blood, possibly working on a hunch regarding the “blood borne metabolic aging disease” and “host” relationship she was told about affecting her blood. Miriam carries Sarah upstairs, intending to place her with her other boxed lovers. There is a rumbling and the mummies of Miriam’s previous lovers emerge from their coffins. The mummies drive Miriam over the edge of the balcony. As she rapidly ages, the mummies fall and become dust, ostensibly providing the trapped souls with release.

As the film draws to a close, the police investigator returns only to find a real estate agent is showing the townhouse stripped of all possessions to prospective buyers. Sarah is now in London, standing on the balcony of a chic apartment tower (one of the three towers of the Barbican), in the company of an attractive young man and woman. She is serenely admiring the gorgeous view as dusk falls. From a draped coffin in a storage room, Miriam repeatedly screams Sarah’s name (an overlay of the audio from earlier in the film).

Catherine Deneuve as Miriam Blaylock

David Bowie as John

Susan Sarandon as Dr. Sarah Roberts

Cliff De Young as Tom Haver

Beth Ehlers as Alice Cavender

Dan Hedaya as Lieutenant Allegrezza

Suzanne Bertish as Phyllis

James Aubrey as Ron

John Stephen Hill as Young disco man

Ann Magnuson as Young disco woman

Shane Rimmer as Jelinek

Bessie Love as Lillybelle

John Pankow as 1st phone booth youth

Willem Dafoe as 2nd phone booth youth

Bauhaus as Disco Group

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