The Hunger

The Hunger is a 1983 British-American erotic horror film directed by Tony Scott, and starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon. It is the story of a love triangle between a doctor who specializes in sleep and aging research and a vampire couple. The film is a loose adaptation of the 1981 novel of the same name by Whitley Strieber, with a screenplay by Ivan Davis and Michael Thomas, and is Scott’s feature directorial debut.

Camille Paglia wrote in Sexual Personae (1990) that The Hunger comes close to being a masterpiece of a “classy genre of vampire film”, but is “ruined by horrendous errors, as when the regal Catherine Deneuve is made to crawl around on all fours, slavering over cut throats.” Elaine Showalter called The Hunger a “post-modernist vampire film” that “casts vampirism in bisexual terms, drawing on the tradition of the lesbian vampire…Contemporary and stylish, [it] is also disquieting in its suggestion that men and women in the 1980s have the same desires, the same appetites, and the same needs for power, money, and sex.”

The film has found a cult following that responded to its dark, glamorous atmosphere. The Bauhaus song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” plays over the opening scene and credits. The film is popular with some segments of the goth subculture and inspired a short-lived TV series of the same name although the series has no direct plot or character connection to it.

The Hunger, 1983 theatrical release poster