The Hunger (1983):

Or: I Was a Trendy Yuppie Vampire. Before taking the posturing-blockbuster path, Tony Scott aped big bro Ridley's arty ad-reel surfaces for his feature debut, a sinuously hollow exercise in ghoul chic. Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie play the voguing Manhattan blocksuckers, introduced at a smoky downtown Gomorrah, where Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi Is Dead" sets the rhythm for the couple to swoop down on their latest victims (one of whom, incidentally, is authentic SoHo icon Ann Magnuson). Deneuve's undead credentials go all the way back to pyramid days, though Bowie's age-resistance begins to wear off, and in a few hours he morphs from Ziggy Stardust to Little Big Man. Off he's shipped to a casket in the mausoleum's attic, where all of Deneuve's former loves remain rotting, all the better to spring them out for the climax right out of a Lucio Fulci zombie potboiler. Before that, however, Deneuve shifts her attentions to scientist Susan Sarandon, and spilled sherry leads to some Skinemax girl-on-girl action set to Delibes' "Lakme." (Schubert's "Trio in E-Flat" is the tune of choice elsewhere, though always second to the wind machines working overtime to keep the curtains always billowing.) There's fascination in the inhuman glossiness of a New York City perched somewhere after punk and before New Wave, although Scott's cathedral lighting leaves the banalities of Whitley Strieber's novel mostly intact -- themes of mortality, cosmetic pestilence, and AIDS crisis are for Cronenberg or Abel Ferrara, not for the man who stages bloodletting as a cologne commercial. Cinematography by Stephen Goldblatt. With Cliff De Young, Beth Ehles, and Dan Hedaya.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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