THE HUNGER. (1983) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

hunger catherine

THE HUNGER. 1983. BASED ON THE BOOK ‘THE HUNGER’ BY WHITLEY STRIEBER. DIRECTED BY TONY SCOTT. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY STEPHEN GOLDBLATT.

STARRING CATHERINE DENEUVE, DAVID BOWIE, CLIFF DE YOUNG, SUSAN SARANDON, BETH EHLERS, DAN HEDAYA, WILLEM DAFOE AND BAUHAUS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

(First published here in 2016.)

I took this film out of the library recently (yes, there are still those of us who do that, like cave-people who’ve never heard of Netflix…!) and the librarian laughed as he checked it out and remarked that the director really had ‘a thing for billowing curtains.’

I had to laugh too. There certainly are a lot of billowing curtains in this visually beautiful and arty erotic vampire film, along with classical music and classical statuary and paintings. The director was definitely trying to create something artistically eye-catching and in this he’s succeeded, but the film’s not without its problems or, indeed, its stern critics.

Despite its being obviously sexy and stylish, film critic Roger Ebert described the film as ‘an agonisingly bad vampire movie.’ That’s one way of looking at it, I suppose, but it’s found itself a cult following amongst the goth subculture so the news isn’t all bad.

Me personally, I love this film and think it’s one of the best non-Dracula vampire movies ever made, along with INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and SALEM’S LOT, based on the internationally bestselling books by Anne Rice and Stephen King respectively.

Now to the plot. Miriam Blaylock, played by well-preserved French actress Catherine BELLE DE JOUR Deneuve, is one hot momma. In one way. In another, she’s a stone-cold bitch who also just so happens to be a vampire. That’s right, she’s an ageless and beautiful vampire who is hundreds, maybe thousands of years old.

She lives in Manhattan in a fantastic old house filled with the aforementioned priceless objets d’art. She doesn’t need to go out to work because she’s as rich as Croesus, although she poses as a teacher of classical music along with her handsome younger husband. By the way, did I forget to mention that this classy lassy with the bottomless bank account is married in the film to the Thin White Duke…?

Yep, her hubby John, an eighteenth-century cellist, is played by musician-actor David Bowie, who sadly passed away earlier this year and- as some people maintain!- unintentionally sparked off a chain of celebrity deaths that had us reeling and railing against the Grim Reaper till midsummer at least. It’s been a bad year for celebrity deaths.

He’s a vampire too like his missus but he’s a very tragic figure in this film. When we come in, he’s unfortunately started to age at the rate of knots, even though Miriam, that lying, manipulative bitch, had promised him eternal life and also eternal youth when they first got together back in the eighteenth century.

She may have been telling porkies about the eternal youth thing, but it seems that she was telling the brutal truth about his living forever, which is extremely bad news for her hubby John who’s now so ancient in his appearance that he makes Grampa Simpson from THE SIMPSONS look young…!

Before long, Miriam is callously locking him away in a coffin in a room at the top of the house where, incidentally, she keeps the rotting corpses of her other lovers. She’s pledged eternal love to all of them but we quickly learn that ‘eternity’ for Miriam can end in a heartbeat the minute she tires of you or you can no longer satisfy her. The corpses are doomed to lie there, awake and aware, for all eternity because she’s too goddamn selfish to let them die. That bitch. I told you guys she was cold…!

Things start to get really gruesome after poor, poor old David Bowie has been put in his ‘forever’ box in a heartbreaking scene that would make you feel very angry with Miriam on behalf of John and the other boxed lovers.

The sexually insatiable but horrifically selfish Miriam then turns her attentions to Dr. Sarah Roberts, the author of a dreary but terribly worthy tome called SLEEP AND LONGEVITY who carries out ageing experiments on monkeys, of all things.

Dr. Roberts, a gerontologist consulted by an agonised David Bowie before his incarceration in Miriam’s attic, is played by a freakishly young-looking Susan Sarandon with a painfully ‘Eighties hairstyle. Poor David Bowie thought that maybe she could slow down or even stop altogether his dreadful ageing process but it was no dice, sadly. Science hasn’t advanced that far yet, if it ever does.

Sarah can’t help being mesmerised by Miriam, who is quite simply the last word in feminine allure. The two have lesbian sex in Miriam’s gaff. (Well, what other kind could they have…?) Yes, you do see boobs; Sarah’s, but not Miriam’s…!

The sex is all very artistically-shot and stylish, and by the end of it, Miriam has co-mingled their respective bloods, in a disgustingly non-consensual act of what we’d today probably refer to as rape, and Sarah is on her way to becoming a fully-fledged vampire.

Sarah gets as sick as a dog as her body comes to terms with its new situation. I love the scene in which Miriam tells her new lover that she’ll sleep for six hours out of every twenty-four and she’ll need to ‘feed’ once a week. Just give the girl the instructive pamphlets entitled SO YOU’RE A VAMPIRE NOW or VAMPIRES 101 or VAMPIRES FOR DUMMIES or even SO YOU’VE RUINED YOUR LIFE and let her figure it all out for herself, lol. 

Sarah becomes so desperate for blood when ‘the hunger,’ as Miriam puts it, is upon her, that she kills her own scientist lover when he comes looking for her at Miriam’s place, and she joins in the gory fun when Miriam rips a young male pick-up limb from limb.

Sarah’s scientist friends are alarmed when they examine her blood medically and discover that her bloodstream has actually been invaded by a foreign, non-human blood strain, which is winning the battle for dominance over Sarah’s own normal blood.

It’s extremely frightening for Sarah (‘What have you done to me…?’), and it’s also almost impossible not to think of the way in which the AIDS virus is transmitted. This was, after all, the time when AIDS was rearing its ugly head for the first time. The passing of the vampire gene resembles the transmission of a blood infection. Christopher Lee never had this issue, lol.

In fact, when I first used to watch the devastatingly handsome and sexually dominant Christopher Lee as Dracula in the HAMMER HORROR films, I wanted nothing more than to be a vampire too.

I’d live with him in his crumbling Transylvanian castle and drink blood from a jewel-encrusted goblet brought to me nightly by my new husband’s naked, full-bosomed handmaidens. It was going to be sweet. This film put me off the idea of being a vampire for good.

All that sweating and being sick and looking as if you’re dying with the ‘flu while your body craves human blood changed my mind about it, along with the decidedly unsavoury sight of Susan Sarandon in her yucky grey sweat-socks sweating buckets through her old grey T-shirt.

I only ever wanted the glamour and the sex with Dracula, anyway, not so much the other stuff. I certainly never wanted to do my own killing, and I’d only ever be pushed about immortality if I had someone decent to share it with. But, when it comes down to it, isn’t that what Miriam wants for herself…?

So anyway, do Miriam and Sarah live happily ever after for all eternity, or is eternity just too long a time even for a vampire…? There’s a neat little twist at the end that I can’t tell you about, but I thought it was a strange ending to an already strange film. Apparently, some members of the cast were disappointed in the ending but some viewers will think it’s only right and proper.

There are some plotholes in the film, which is so painfully ‘Eighties it looks a bit dated now, but the plotholes, I suppose, are of secondary importance compared to the look of the thing. Willem Dafoe makes a brief cameo as a man who wants to use the pay-phone after Susan Sarandon’s finished with it and the violin-playing kid is really, really annoying. ‘Eighties band BAUHAUS make an appearance and the monkey experiments stuff gets quite confusing after a while. I didn’t enjoy that bit too much.

The first half-hour drags a bit and things don’t really get going until David Bowie is locked away in his coffin, but the hour or so after that is required viewing for fans of the vampire genre. Based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, there’s not one mention of the ‘v’ word in the film, however, which is interesting. Watch this if you enjoy vampire flicks. If you can overlook the flaws, it’s a real little cracker, I promise you.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

MISS LESLIE’S DOLLS. (1973) A NAUGHTY VIDEO-NASTY REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

miss leslie's dolls split screen

MISS LESLIE’S DOLLS. (1973) DIRECTED AND CO-WRITTEN BY JOSEPH G. PRIETO. STARRING SALVADOR UGARTE, TERRI JUSTON, MARCELLE BICHETTE, KITTY LEWIS AND CHARLES PITTS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I loved this one, as fine a low-budget piece of exploitation cinema as you’ll find anywhere. It’s a cross between a video-nasty, an early slasher movie and a porno flick, with a really cool ‘Seventies music soundtrack and tons of lady-nipples, lol. It reminds me a bit of DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE, another ‘Seventies film that would also fall into the category of video-nasty. The basic premise is as follows.

A young University teacher called Alma Frost is travelling somewhere with three of her students, two beautiful young ladies called Martha and Lily and then there’s Roy, who’s driving. Their old jalopy runs out of gas in the middle of the night. In the middle of a cemetery. In the middle of a storm. They really planned that well, didn’t they? Snigger.

There’s a spooky old abandoned-looking house by the cemetery. Miss Frost thinks it might be a good idea if they sought shelter there, although personally I’d rather sleep in the car with the doors locked than try to deal with whatever dwells within the walls of that old mausoleum. Still, the folks in horror movies, they just won’t be told, will they?

The house is owned by one Miss Leslie Lamont, a queer old duck who’s only too happy to be receiving company as she lives alone in her isolated house (except for her cat, Tom) with little or no contact with the outside world. It’s a strange set-up but then we gotta live and let live, right? To each their own.

The little school party don’t seem to notice that she’s distinctly masculine-looking and built like a brick outhouse with hands and feet the size of dinner plates, but I did. I was onto that rum dame in the blue dress right from the start, lol.

She’s awfully forthcoming about her private and personal business, and so in no time at all the schoolies and their teacher have discovered the following snippets of information about her.

Her mother is dead, but when she was alive Mother owned a small doll factory. I don’t know if it’s the factory or the dolls that was/were small…! Anyway, the factory mysteriously burned down years ago, killing Maw Lamont and a young woman who worked for her.

Miss Leslie is a self-confessed student of the occult, reincarnation and all things other-worldly.  She moves and speaks slowly and deliberately while all the time stroking her pussy (cat, that is, Tom the cat!) and there’s something distinctly odd about her, even once you get past the fact that she’s built like a WWF wrestler in a very big frock. She’s both calm and placid and yet also highly sensitive and emotional as well, a lady who obviously feels things deeply.

While Miss Leslie’s off kindly organising some ham and cheese sambos for the little lost lambs, the lambs are off sticking their noses into a room of hers which she calls her ‘sanctuary.’ It contains five or six life-sized dolls that look suspiciously like dead human females and which would put you in mind immediately of Vincent Price’s HOUSE OF WAX.

Anyway, bedtime comes and the three silly-billy females have seemingly only packed see-through shorty nightdresses of the kind that used to be called ‘baby doll.’ They must all be freezing with the cold. There’s a storm on, after all. There are so many perky little nipples on show that you’d hardly know where to look. 

There’s even one scene in which Miss Leslie appears to be confiding in a pair of bare breasts with some lovely standy-uppy nipples…! I know I talk to my own boobies sometimes (in you go, girls, that’s it, easy now, like when I’m squishing them into a brassière) but this is ridiculous.

There’s a very permissive ménage-à-trois thing going on between the sex-mad Roy and the two beautiful, horny-as-feck young ladies, Martha and Lily. He’s sleeping with both of them, the dirty dog, with the full knowledge and consent of all parties. I know it was the permissive ‘Seventies, but still…!

So Roy has sex with Martha while the seemingly uptight and sexually repressed Miss Frost whips off her frumpy librarian spectacles, unpins her glorious strawberry-blonde hair and strips off her teacher clobber to commit an act of what these days would pass for rape against Lily, the student who’s not having sex with Roy at this moment in time. (But don’t worry, readers, she soon will be…!)

Still unsated after her unexpected bout of lesbian sex, Lily afterwards goes in search of Roy and Martha for a spot of heterosexual shenanigans just to mix things up. Meanwhile, Miss Leslie, who’s already rather creepily told the schoolies that Martha is the living image of a girl she once knew who’s now dead, is having a full-on earnest conversation down in the basement with what remains of her mother. Cuckoo, right…?

All we need now is for the four schoolies to suddenly decide they urgently need to wander around the house in their ridiculously skimpy nightwear in the middle of the night and the stage is set for the bloodiest high-jinks since Carrie got her first period in the Stephen King novel of the same name.

Will the college party unwittingly be the cause of Miss Leslie’s finally achieving her lifelong dream, which I can’t tell you about because it would be a definite spoiler? We’ll see, gentle reader. We’ll see…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor