April 3: Rock and role — A film that stars a rock star.
I always wondered why the 1991 John Leslie adult movie Curse of the Catwoman had such a cinematic opening — yes, it’s true, even in the video era of dirty movies, they could often look like real movies and had plots and were actually worth watching — and then, when I saw the beginning of The Hunger, it all came together. It’s totally taking shots from this and the plot kind of from Cat People.
But I digress and hadn’t even started.
Miriam Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve) has been alive since, well, the beginning of time it seems, always taking in human lovers and making them eternal like her. Like John (David Bowie). He’s been with her for at least two hundred years and now, they pose as a rich New York City couple who teach classical music.
But the curse of eternal life is not eternal youth. He’s aging years in days and seeks out Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon), who along with her boyfriend Tom (Cliff De Young) and Charlie (Rufus Collins) are studying how to reverse the impact of the years on the human body. But even feeding on Alice Cavender, the girl who Miriam was planning to be her next lover, won’t keep him alive. He begs her to kill him but there’s no way to do that. Instead, like all her past inamorato and inamorata, he lies moaning for eternity in a coffin in the attic, stuck between the land of the living and the dead.
As Sarah comes to the apartment to find John, she instead encounters Miriam and the two become obsessed with one another, changing how Sarah relates to the world as Miriam pursues her, with her blood overtaking the humanity that runs through Sarah’s body.
Any movie that starts with Bauhaus playing “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” before Bowie and Deneuve consume John Stephen Hill and Ann Magnuson isn’t just going to be forgotten. It’s going to be the kind of film that inspires entire subcultures.
On the commentary for The Hunger, Sarandon shares that she hates the ending: “The thing that made the film interesting to me was this question of, “Would you want to live forever if you were an addict?” But as the film progressed, the powers that be rewrote the ending and decided that I wouldn’t die, so what was the point? All the rules that we’d spent the entire film delineating, that Miriam lived forever and was indestructible, and all the people that she transformed died, and that I killed myself rather than be an addict. Suddenly I was kind of living, she was kind of half dying… Nobody knew what was going on, and I thought that was a shame.”
Tony Scott knows how to shoot a movie. I just think it’s funny that the lesbian sex in this movie scandalized people when Eurohorror directors had been making sapphic bloodsucker movies for years, like Jess Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos (and about five or more other Jess vampire films), the many vampires of Jean Rollin, Jose Larraz’s Vampyres) and Harry Kumel’s Daughters of Darkness. Or, even closer to home, The Velvet Vampire.
When this failed at the box office, Scott quit directing and went back to commercials. He would come back to make Top Gun and after that, he kept making films.
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