BELA LUGOSI'S DEAD
"The Hunger" is of a rare genre, the modern-day horror film that eschews the cliches of cloaks, fangs, garlics and stakes. George Romero's 1977 cult horror "Martin" set this precedent, and was very popular in the '80s, most notably with "The Lost Boys", "Vamp" and Kathryn Bigelow's underrated "Near Dark".
PARDON ME, BUT YOUR TEETH ARE BITING MY NECK
"The Hunger" makes explicit the erotic connotations of the vampire myth, in Miriam's seduction of Sarah. Homoeroticism (of the female kind) is a fine tradition in vampire lore, from James le Fanu's "Carmilla" to the sexploitation film "Vampyros Lesbos"! An essay entitled The Vampire Lovers discusses lesbianism and vampires in cinema, and has this to say about The Hunger:
The vampire character in The Hunger is not based on Carmilla, but on a second source: the legend of countess Elisabeth Bathory of Transylvania, who lived in the seventeenth century. From most accounts, she was a sexual sadist who tortured and murdered her female servants and later progressed to local noblewomen before she was caught and brought to trial. This blight on the Hungarian aristocratic landscape was immediately hushed up by church and state, and the incriminating trial testimony was considered so shocking that it was supressed
for over a hundred years
The Hunger was the first mainstream film to introduce 'lesbian chic'. This has become extremely popular in recent years with films like "Bound" and "Go Fish", although Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon are probably still the most high profile female stars to appear in a lesbian love scene.
LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN!
There is a spooky coincidence linking "The Hunger" to "Rocky Horror Picture Show" and its sequel "Shock Treatment"... Susan Sarandon played Janet Weiss in "Rocky Horror". Ironically her boyfriend in "The Hunger" is Cliff de Young, who played Brad Majors, Janet's fiance, in the sequel "Shock Treatment" (However, Janet was played by Rebecca Harper of 'Phantom of the Paradise' and 'Suspiria')
SWING THE HEARTACHE
"The Hunger" famously opens with Bauhaus performing "Bela Lugosi's Dead" in London's 'Heaven' nightclub. Bauhaus of course covered "Ziggy Stardust". The Docklands apartment seen at the beginning of the film (where a gothed-up Bowie and Deneuve seduce and murder a punk couple) was the scene of a famous advertisement for Maxell cassettes - which starred Pete Murphy, Bauhaus's singer!
Naturally, there are some Bowie links too. As well as the aforementioned Bowie/Bauhaus link, Iggy Pop's "Funtime" is heard in one scene - the song which Bowie co-wrote, produced and played on, from Iggy's "The Idiot".
ANNE RICE ON THE HUNGER AND THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH
No less a vampire authority than Anne Rice compared Bowie's performance to that in The Man Who Fell To Earth - "As the sublimely gentle extraterrestrial in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth, Bowie gave fragility and passivity a new integrity. And as the decaying vampire John Blaycock in Tony Scott's The Hunger, he gave the picture - almost entirely through the exquisitely modulated delivery of his lines - its only real hint of tragic depth. These films, coming seven years apart, are amazingly similar in the way they use Bowie's aura of vulnerability: he is a wounded and doomed monster in both."
She goes on to note, "How can one escape noticing, for example, that in both (films), Bowie is so physically weak at one point that he has to be carried by the female lead. (Candy Clark, his marvellously mundane girlfriend, carries him down a hotel hallway in the former film, and Catherine Deneuve, his seemingly immortal vampire lover, lugs Bowie all the way to the attic of her Manhattan townhouse in the latter...In The Man Who Fell To Earth, Bowie horrifies Candy Clark when he reveals his reptilian appearance to her. She climbs out of the bed and runs. And in The Hunger, when the immortal Catherine Deneuve kisses the decrept and decaying Bowie who has aged three hundred years in one day, it is a moment of true horror because we know the revulsion she feels."
I'm sure there's lots more curious trivia and snippets of information relating to "The Hunger". Email me with your own thoughts on The Hunger!
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