[LITTLE MISS RISK’S DUNGEON] THE HUNGER (1983)

 

 

 

 

I’ve gone through a few different incarnations in my life. But my adolescent goth roots are what I’ve been reflecting upon lately the most fondly. I’m far away from the the alienated, angry art-school teen painting her lips black and lusting after the Alchemy Gothic catalog (we didn’t have Hot Topic in my day, the best we had was Lip Service). but this little spectre from my past is never far from me, and is as far as putting on Sisters Of Mercy or Switchblade Symphony. The other way I can evoke this little ghost of my former self and indulge in a little nostalgia is by watching vampire films. But when I want one that is more sophisticated, with non-glittery vampires, or blood drinkers agonizing over their long lost humanity, I turn to THE HUNGER.

 

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The film begins in the bowels of a NYC nightclub with über-goth legends Bauhaus playing, as Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) and her partner John (David Bowie) lure another couple back to their upscale penthouse. The pair are blood drinkers — Miriam a vampire and John her turned consort — who have been paired since they met in France, circa the 18th century. They have maintained a sophisticated lifestyle, drinking from and draining their victims, with their only visitor to their abode being the young Alice, a music student under John’s tutelage. However, as John is turned, but not a true vampire, he begins to find his nights sleepless, and his body begins to rapidly age. As we’ve all known the feeling — having staying up till dawn only to feel haggard as fuck the following day — John, finding out that Miriam knew this would happen to him throughout the duration of their relationship, seeks out Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon) whose research in sleep, insomnia, and aging in primates he feels holds the key. However, Dr.Roberts dismisses him as someone overreacting, and he returns to Miriam at their shared home, in spite of aging before her eyes.

 

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Miriam takes John, once he is a elderly husk ,and installs him in a coffin in the attic, among many of her previous lovers. She intends to turn Alice once she’s of age (creepy, but then again, how many ‘I’ve watched you since you were young’ themes have we seen when it’s a dude watching a woman? Yuck!) Sarah, wanting to help John (and perhaps out of a sense of scientific curiosity) comes to the house, but when she discovers only Miriam there, the two women experience a strong attraction to each other. To be fair, I’d be hard pressed to not be attracted to either of them as well. One is a doctor with a sophisticated understanding of aging and genetics, and the other is a charismatic vampire. Put those in the same room, and a Pussy Bomb is set to detonate.

 

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They wind up entwined as lovers, and Miriam, being the opportunistic predator that she is, bites Sarah, who is disgusted at the idea of becoming a junkie addicted to human vitae. Sarah leaves and the next day gets her team to analyze her blood and notes the vampiric infection. When Sarah returns to Miriam to confront her, the vampire allows her to stay in her guest room, luring the doctor’s boyfriend in as bait for her new consort. Sarah ultimately rejects her programming to eat him, and then attacks Miriam, taking her to the attic where the vampire’s former lovers attack her. The film closes with Sarah in London with two companions, and Miriam within a box, trapped by its confines and by her own immortality.

 

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I won’t lie — I have an affection for many things British. I feel if this had been an American-made film, it would have been a little less stylish, less about the moral struggle and less about the underlying theme of addiction, and more about boobs and blood. Not that I mind boobs and blood — it just wouldn’t have been the same film. This film came at a time when there WAS plenty of boobs and blood, and as a contrast, it left the viewer with something more cerebral to contemplate after the fact, rather than whether they should wank it to the two female vampires, or to the two female vampires and David Bowie. It also came at the birth of the 1980s goth movement, and while the film deviated from the book by Whitley Strieber in its ending, it was still an effective film that offered something different. I’d liken it to THE CROW, similarly for being stylistically and musically iconic in its own time. The cast was made up of people who could effectively handle the depth of the roles, and not just for the way they wore their clothes prettily. It’s worth noting the musical soundscape by Howard Blake added to its elegance, and he added his deft classical influence both with the short THE SNOWMAN, and with a collaboration with Queen for FLASH GORDON.

 

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This film was given the shit end of the stick upon its release. I’m not surprised, as it’s not to everyone’s taste. But like so many of my favourite films that started as box office flops, THE HUNGER has found its audience over time. This gave a young, bisexual me hope that this sort of characterization could be normalized in film. Not so much the blood drinking, but the idea that there are characters that are post-modern, strong, and their sexuality doesn’t define them or drive the story. Again, I feel if this was an American film, there would be more focus on the character’s sexuality, rather than their intentions for using it. The vampire is a predator, and its prey’s gender is a non-issue in my mind, when what the vampire wants isn’t the innocence of its victims, but solely its hunger satisfied… Like any addiction. THE HUNGER might have gotten the icy reception it did because it’s an uncomfortable reminder to people about the intentions behind the hyper-sexuality and the drive of it, rather than the idealized romance to justify the actions.

 

And it is the beast that lives with all of us that we really need to reconcile with.

 

 

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XOXO,

LITTLE MISS RISK.

 

 

-Zyu9sTS

 

 

Little Miss Risk is the star of stage and scream. Her legendary burlesque performances can be seen at the wrong place at the right time across this landscape of ours. She co-starred in AMERICAN MARY, directed by The Soska Twins, and most recently starred in THE EDITOR and in THE ABCs OF DEATH 2.

 

Check out all of Little Miss Risk’s previous journeys into the wild and the wicked here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tristan Risk

Tristan Risk

Little Miss Risk is the star of stage and scream. Her legendary burlesque performances can be seen at the wrong place at the right time across this landscape of ours. She co-starred in AMERICAN MARY, directed by The Soska Twins, and most recently starred in THE EDITOR and in THE ABCs OF DEATH 2.
Tristan Risk

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