The Hunger is a 1983 erotic horror film directed by Tony Scott in his directorial debut, starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon. An international co-production of the United Kingdom and United States, 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. Its plot concerns a love triangle between a doctor who specializes in sleep and aging research (Sarandon) and a vampire couple (Deneuve and Bowie). The film’s special effects were handled by make-up effects artist Dick Smith.
After premiering at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival, The Hunger was released in the spring of 1983 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Though it received a mixed critical response, the film has accrued a cult following within the goth subculture in the years since its release.
Willem Dafoe and John Pankow have brief appearances as two youths harassing Sarah at a phone booth. John Stephen Hill and Ann Magnuson play a wild young couple whom Miriam and John pick up at a nightclub to consume at the start of the film. James Aubrey plays a man whom Miriam brings to Sarah as her potential first victim.
English gothic rock band Bauhaus appear during the film’s opening credits as a group performing at the nightclub, with Peter Murphy onscreen, where they play their single “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Silent film star Bessie Love makes her final film appearance as an elderly fan at Sarah’s book signing.
Critic 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.” David Bowie later commented about the film that “the first twenty minutes rattle along like hell – it really is a great opening.”