This remains one of my favorite vampire films of all time. It's stylish, gothic, eerie, and the visuals are stunning thanks to the photography of Irving Penn. Sadly, Irving passed away in 2009. This cult classic and favorite is filled with hair-raising, classical music. Some of my favorites. The Solo Cello in G-Major, oh LAWD! Something about cello music has my heart pumping. The Trio in E-Flat, Op. 100 by Schubert is also beautiful. This is what I've been talking about. There's a very simple formula to putting together a masterpiece. You have to include all aspects. The music, impressive actors, innovative characters, the dialogue, pacing, climax, visuals, and cinematography.
The film opens with Peter Murphy from Bauhaus in a cage singing "Bela Lugosi's Dead" in a night club with the young, rebellious, and the beautiful. John (David Bowie) and Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) are on the prowl for centuries to taste the blood of the innocence. They spend their nights in various clubs then proceed to take their victims home with them. It's not surprising that they're swingers. Most film-maker's definition of vampires sexual orientation usually point both ways. It's all very sexual. That's how they are portrayed vampires anyway. For the rest, you get revolting creatures of the underworld. In this case you get too sexy for their own good. This is an idea that I sometimes struggle with. I like sexy vampires but the idea of a corpse walking around looking sexy and smelling like heaven is unbelievable. The argument is pretty much mute since vampires aren't real. It's like trying to argue about how zombies and Jason Voorhees shouldn't run.
John seems to be aging fast even though Miriam made the apocryphal promise that he will be young forever. What she really meant is that he would live forever in agony lying in one of her coffins next to several other coffins with previous lovers. This idea is fascinating to me. This is a distinctive and incomparable vampire tale. She's the last of her kind and very desolate so she attempts to make herself a life partner. For reasons unexplained, unless I missed something, her suitors age after a few centuries. It's hard not to feel sorry for Miriam. Can you imagine how lonely that must be? But you cannot forget that she is a monster and she has made numerous young lovers age and decay in a box for decades. It makes you wonder just how many of them are in there. She's an Egyptian vampire so there's no telling.There's no denying Catherine Deneuve's beauty. I've been a huge fan for years and she was phenomenal in Roman Polanski's Repulsion.
The ending in the book is different than the ending in the film. Fans of the book didn't quite understand the film's ending but I think it's pretty clear. *SPOILER ALERT* When Sarah attempts to kill herself, her blood pours into Miriam's mouth. Gobs of her blood. This breaks the previous lover's curse and they all crowd over Miriam causing her to fall off the top of the stairs. Immediately, Miriam starts to age and the decaying lovers turn to dust. They are free at last. Later on in London, Sarah is alive with Miriam in a coffin and screaming her name.*End Spoiler*
I thought the ending was suitable even though I always root for the bad guy. In the book, Miriam puts Sarah into a coffin and she flees because of the conspiracy surrounding little Alice's disappearance. The film-makers thought that justice should be served. Susan Sarandon strongly disagreed with this ending. Susan Sarandon is gorgeous but the short hair bothers me. It only works on my girlfriend. It's still shocking to me that she exposed her breast and was involved with a lesbian sex scene. This is a very talented actress. I have always been so fond of her. I just like to give credit when it's due. Her first big break was Rocky Horror Picture Show where she seemed so sweet and innocent. RHPS and Pretty Baby were the most notable films she was featured in before The Hunger. Then her career started to take off with roles in some of my favorites; The Witches of Eastwick, White Palace (James Spader is hot,) Thelma & Louise, and so on.
Some find the murder of little Alice to be hard to watch. It's usually hard for me to watch a scene where babies die but Alice looks 12 years old here. Never underestimate creepy old men. Remember Albert Fish? I'm not judging little Alice's stupidity but I would of turned away. Does John kill little Alice because of revenge? Earlier in the film they show us a monkey that Sarah had been studying. This monkey rapidly started aging and it ripped apart another monkey that it seemed to be close to. John's state of decline is a lot like the monkeys and he cannot help his rage. That's the way I look at it. Say we live in a world where this could happen, I wonder how long Alice's aging process would take if Miriam turned her right away. She's just a little girl.
Random Thoughts: The majority of the film consists of smoking cancer sticks. It add's to the sexy even though non smokers believe it's a nasty habit. I don't understand the significance of the swimming pool scene where Sarah and her dick of a man friend are eating dinner but it's sexy. The doves in the middle of the climax seem out of place but it's a nice touch. Why do all these doves just suddenly appear? Roger Ebert calls the film boring yet Citizen Cane is his favorite movie. That makes perfect sense. I didn't find the pacing to be slow. Why is Sara's douche boyfriend complaining about her talking to another woman for three hours. This guy is an ass hole. Girls talk. This is a fact. Willem Dafoe has a cameo as a street punk, nice.
Fun facts: David Bowie stood on the George Washington Bridge every night screaming punk rock songs until his voice was hoarse for the role. He even learned how to play the cello for his music scenes. Now that's fucking dedication.