The Hunger Blu-ray Review
The Curse of Eternity
The late Tony Scott's The Hunger was a moody, stylish and chic debut with a seedy underbelly.Predating the sexy vampire generation, Scott took his experience directing music videos and translated all the style into a dark and bloody horror bathed in moody shadows and simmering with sex and lust. It was a dangerous move, with an abundance of AIDs themes hitting a sore spot, leaving Scott's career on the ropes before it really got started. Decades later and it's something of a cult gem, oozing style, and delivering everything you want from a dark vampire flick. The story follows Catherine Deneuve's ancient vampire hostess, whose latest 'husband', played to perfection by David Bowie, finds that he's suddenly ageing at a startling rate. Turning to Susan Sarandon's scientist for help, it soon becomes evident that the mistress isn't looking for a cure, but for a new muse.Right from the electric opening sequence, Scott sets the stage for a perfectly framed, exquisitely shot feature that trades in dense shadows and striking mood lighting, and delivers sharply edited jump-cuts and flash images to striking effect. It's impressive just how much effort he put into every single frame - even at this early stage in his career - with his debut having far more in common with the equally well-revered (at least from a cult, retrospective, perspective anyway) Angel Heart, a film that similarly trades in mood and ambience as much as dark horror substance. Deneuve and Bowie are perfectly chosen for the older vampires, and the effects work to age the latter is impressive considering the budget, with Sarandon's young apprentice oozing her own early, innate, sex-appeal. Mesmirising.
Picture QualityThe Hunger makes its UK debut courtesy of HMV's Premium Collection, delivering an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen.
With stunning cinematography and the director's own perfect eye for detail, The Hunger is a visual feast, and, despite being bathed in shadows, it stands up exceptionally well three and a half decades on, retaining some impressive detail beneath the strong filmic texture and stylistic choices.
The Hunger is a superb looking Blu-ray in High Definition
Skin textures are accurately picked up on - and even Bowie's ageing effects stand up after all this time, and with such strong, fine observation. The colour scheme is entrenched in the noir mood and deep, dark style, but still holds some deep, vibrant tones, not least when blood hits the screen. Black levels are strong and stand up even in the darkest, most taxing moments, leaving this a superb looking film in HD.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track is remarkably effective, considering it's inherent technical limitation, offering up a thick swathe of atmosphere mostly through the music played across the piece, whilst decent effects coverage and precision dialogue make up a trifecta of strong key components.
It may be a technically limited track, but it's still an audiovisual pleasure
Certainly the dialogue is finely represented across the frontal array, whilst effects - slashes and animal rasps as well as interspersed traffic noises - are admittedly nominal but still strike out at you when necessary. It's the score - and song tracks - that really works for the piece though, with Scott's music video background coming into play here as he perfectly blends sound and visuals to great effect. It may be a technically limited track, but it's still an audiovisual pleasure.
ExtrasThe UK HMV-exclusive release offers up a decent, if piecemeal, commentary track from director Tony Scott and actress Susan Sarandon - recorded separately and interspliced together. Scott's enthusiasm for this production is evident, and the retrospective titbits he offers up are gems, whilst Sarandon reflects on the impact that the more sexual elements of the film had on her life.
The package itself adds some nice touches
HMV's package itself adds some nice touches, coming in an attractive bookcover-style slipcase, and offering a selection of artcards from the film too. There's also a DVD copy and a digital copy too.
Blu-ray VerdictSomething of a cult gem, oozing style, and delivering everything you want from a dark vampire flick
HMV's exclusive Premium Collection of titles which are making their UK debut through them includes some strong titles, and The Hunger is certainly one of them. It's almost certainly a direct port of Warner's US release, but that's no bad thing, with the excellent video and audio carried over, along with a commentary track and a nice HMV-exclusive package to boot. Recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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