The Hunger (1983)

R | 97 mins | Drama, Horror | 29 April 1983

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HISTORY

       On 29 Jul 1980, a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (M-G-M) press release publicized the studio’s acquisition of the Whitley Strieber novel, The Hunger, which was scheduled for publication in Feb 1981. At the time, James Costigan was hired to write the screenplay, as reported in the 5 Nov 1980 Var. Another M-G-M press release, dated 7 Jan 1981, announced the film as director Tony Scott’s feature-length theatrical debut, as well as the film debut for actor John Stephen Hill, as reported in the 4 May 1982 DV. A 12 Mar 1982 studio press release stated that principal photography would begin 15 Mar 1982 in London, England. However, the 25 Feb 1982 DV reported that all interior scenes would be filmed in London, while several street scenes would be shot in New York City. According to the 3 Apr 1982 Screen International, Costigan was still officially the screenwriter when the film began production, and Dave Goldman was the production manager for the New York City unit. Neither man is credited onscreen.
       In the 6 May 1983 BAM, Tony Scott described the picture’s primary set as a “semi-derelict” house in London with an interior similar to those found in the Italian cities of Florence and Rome. Its “quality of light” and dusty atmosphere suggested what the director described as “a sort of perfumed, decadent environment.” Principal photography was completed in fourteen weeks, during which Scott received considerable scrutiny from producer Richard A. Shepherd and M-G-M executives, who were determined to keep the production on schedule and under budget, despite the director’s “painstaking ... More Less

       On 29 Jul 1980, a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (M-G-M) press release publicized the studio’s acquisition of the Whitley Strieber novel, The Hunger, which was scheduled for publication in Feb 1981. At the time, James Costigan was hired to write the screenplay, as reported in the 5 Nov 1980 Var. Another M-G-M press release, dated 7 Jan 1981, announced the film as director Tony Scott’s feature-length theatrical debut, as well as the film debut for actor John Stephen Hill, as reported in the 4 May 1982 DV. A 12 Mar 1982 studio press release stated that principal photography would begin 15 Mar 1982 in London, England. However, the 25 Feb 1982 DV reported that all interior scenes would be filmed in London, while several street scenes would be shot in New York City. According to the 3 Apr 1982 Screen International, Costigan was still officially the screenwriter when the film began production, and Dave Goldman was the production manager for the New York City unit. Neither man is credited onscreen.
       In the 6 May 1983 BAM, Tony Scott described the picture’s primary set as a “semi-derelict” house in London with an interior similar to those found in the Italian cities of Florence and Rome. Its “quality of light” and dusty atmosphere suggested what the director described as “a sort of perfumed, decadent environment.” Principal photography was completed in fourteen weeks, during which Scott received considerable scrutiny from producer Richard A. Shepherd and M-G-M executives, who were determined to keep the production on schedule and under budget, despite the director’s “painstaking perfectionism.”
       In the 27 May 1983 LAT, makeup artist Antony Clavet detailed his method for transforming actress Catherine Deneuve into a 2,000-year-old vampire by whitening her skin, adding “lavender tones and smoky grey around the eyes,” then creating downward contour lines on her face, “as if the gravity of centuries had left its mark.” In the Apr-May 1983 Cinefantastique, makeup artist Dick Smith revealed that the “disintegrating mummies” used in the film’s climax were modeled after the Guanojuato mummies of northern Mexico, and took approximately seven months to create. Smith and his crew, which included son David Smith, Neal Martz, Kevin Haney, Peter Montagna, and Doug Drexler, dressed very thin actors in full-body costumes, and used puppets in the close-up shots. Makeup artist Carl Fullerton was faced with the challenge of finding a substance strong enough to maintain its shape that could also crumble into dust. Fullerton found the ideal material in a supply of poorly mixed foam latex that “baked up weak, porous and crumbly,” and asked the manufacturer to reproduce the formula. The puppet molds were then lined with a brittle wax infused with baking soda and “microballoons,” tiny glass globes that appear as dust to the naked eye, before the foam latex was added. Because the finished puppets were too fragile to transport, the molds were shipped to England and the puppets were assembled on set. Smith simulated the death of “Miriam,” played by actress Catherine Deneuve, using a puppet with a flexible skull that could be distorted with bladders. It also featured a moving mouth, eyes, and neck, all of which required seven people to operate. The age progression for actor-musician David Bowie was simple in comparison, involving a set of prosthetics that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Smith was originally scheduled for approximately two weeks of “post-production makeup effects” at Shepperton Studios, but delays in principal photography, attributed to Scott’s “reluctance to compromise his artistic standards,” exhausted the film’s budget. Shepherd threatened to cease production with less than half of the effects photography completed, but later relented and allowed three additional days.
       According to the 31 Jan 1983 HR , the film’s planned Feb 1982 opening was delayed nearly three months until Apr 1983, due to the X-rating it received from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Additional time was needed to re-edit the love scene between actresses Deneuve and Susan Sarandon to qualify the picture for an R.
       The Hunger opened 29 Apr 1983 to mixed reviews, several of which complimented the cast and crew, but derided the screenplay for it lack of exposition. Scott admitted in the Jul 1983 Box that his emphasis on visual style “may have smothered the plot.” Gross receipts for the opening weekend at 775 theaters totaled $1.8 million, but fell to $920,000 by the next weekend.
       An article in the 27 Feb 1984 DV revealed that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) chose The Hunger as its only nominee for best makeup, effectively denying the picture an Academy Award because of the absence of competition. A proposal to issue a special award was rejected by the Academy’s board of governors.
       The 21 Dec 1982 HR announced plans by Pocket Books to release a special paperback edition of the novel in early 1983, bearing a cover related to the film.

      End credits conclude with the following statements: “The producers gratefully acknowledge the co-operation of: Paris - Agnes B, Carel, Laurent Mercadal; London - Butler & Wilson, Capricorn, Cosprop, P. W. Fortes; Rome - Tirelli;” and “Filmed on location in London, England, New York City, New York, and at Shepperton Studios, Middlesex, England.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BAM
6 May 1983
p. 10.
Box Office
Jul 1983
p. 65.
Cinefantastique
Apr-May 1983
pp. 16-23.
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1982.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 1982.
---
Daily Variety
26 May 1982.
---
Daily Variety
27 Feb 1984
p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 1983
p. 3, 6.
Los Angeles Times
30 Apr 1983
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
27 May 1983.
---
New York Times
29 Apr 1983
p. 32.
Screen International
3 Apr 1982.
---
Variety
5 Nov 1980.
---
Variety
24 Mar 1982.
---
Variety
27 Apr 1983
p. 30.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents
A Richard Shepherd Company Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3rd asst dir
Prod mgr, New York unit
1st asst dir, New York unit
2d asst dir, New York unit
2d asst dir, New York unit
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
Cam op
Focus
Clapper/Loader
Stills photog
Chief elec
Best boy
Elec
Dir of photog, New York unit
Cam op, New York unit
1st asst cam, New York unit
2d asst cam, New York unit
Asst cam, New York unit
Gaffer, New York unit
Key grip, New York unit
Still photog, New York unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept asst
Art dir, New York unit
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const mgr
Draughtsman
Prop master
Standby props
Standby props
Dressing props
Dressing props
Prop storeman
Standby carpenter
Standby painter
Standby rigger
Standby stagehand
Supv carpenter
Supv carpenter
Supv painter
Supv plasterer
Chargehand stagehand
Prop master, New York unit
Asst props, New York unit
Set dec, New York unit
Scenic artist, New York unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward master
Cost maker
Men's cost, New York unit
Women's cost, New York unit
MUSIC
Orig mus by
Orig mus by
Mus supv and arr by
Addl electronic mus and eff
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
2d boom
Asst sd ed
Dial ed
Asst dial ed
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Sd mixer, New York unit
Sd rec, New York unit
Boom op, New York unit
VISUAL EFFECTS
Monkey eff
Monkey eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Make-up illusions by
Make-up illusions by
Spec make-up
Make-up co-chief
Make-up co-chief
Make-up & prosthetics asst
Hairdresser
Hairdresser for Miss Deneuve
Make-up, New York unit
Make-up asst, New York unit
Hairdresser, New York unit
PRODUCTION MISC
In charge of prod
Casting, USA
Casting, UK
Cont
Loc mgr
Prod coord
Loc secy
Prod's secy
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Accounts asst
Accounts secy
Casting asst, UK
Unit pub
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Security
Runner
Loc mgr, New York unit
Prod office coord, New York unit
N.Y. casting asst
Casting (extras), New York unit
Transportation capt, New York unit
Loc auditor, New York unit
Asst auditor, New York unit
Asst to prod office co-ord, New York unit
Prod office asst, New York unit
Prod office asst, New York unit
Spec asst (L.A.)
Prod services
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Hunger by Whitley Strieber (New York, 1981).
MUSIC
"Le Gibet," by Maurice Ravel, published by Arima and Durano SA
"Trio In E-flat" by Franz Schubert
"Flower Duet," from Lakmé by Leo Delibes
+
MUSIC
"Le Gibet," by Maurice Ravel, published by Arima and Durano SA
"Trio In E-flat" by Franz Schubert
"Flower Duet," from Lakmé by Leo Delibes
"Bela Lugosi's Dead," written by Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, David J, and Kevin Haskins, performed by Bauhaus.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 April 1983
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 April 1983
Production Date:
15 March--June 1982 in London, England
Copyright Claimant:
MGM/UA Entertainment Company
Copyright Date:
19 May 1983
Copyright Number:
PA177063
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Prints
Prints in Metrocolor®
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26791
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, John and Miriam Blaylock bring a young man and a young woman home from a discotheque to their townhouse. The Blaylocks cut their guests' throats, drink their blood, and incinerate the bodies. Meanwhile, at a research facility elsewhere in the city, a male monkey, under the influence of an experimental drug, kills and feeds upon his mate. Scientist Sarah Roberts and coworkers Phyllis, Tom Haver, and Charlie Humphries, discover the carnage the next morning, and are bewildered by the monkey’s manic state and sudden bloodlust. Later, John and Miriam watch a television interview with Sarah, who discusses her team’s efforts to find a cure for the aging process. That afternoon, the Blaylocks are visited by Alice Cavender, a promising teenaged violinist, who performs a piece by Schubert, accompanied by Miriam on piano and John on cello. Alice photographs John with her Polaroid camera, commenting on how much he has aged in the last few days. Desperate for a solution to John’s rapid aging, Miriam meets with Charlie the next day, while John reads Sarah’s book on the subject. When Miriam returns home, John reminds her that she promised him eternal life two centuries earlier, the same promise she made to her previous lovers, all of whom grew old and died within a week. John then asks if Miriam intends to replace him with Alice, but receives no answer. The following day, John goes to Sarah’s office and tells her of his plight. Sarah suspects John of being mentally unstable and asks her receptionist to keep him in the waiting room in hopes of discouraging ... +


In New York City, John and Miriam Blaylock bring a young man and a young woman home from a discotheque to their townhouse. The Blaylocks cut their guests' throats, drink their blood, and incinerate the bodies. Meanwhile, at a research facility elsewhere in the city, a male monkey, under the influence of an experimental drug, kills and feeds upon his mate. Scientist Sarah Roberts and coworkers Phyllis, Tom Haver, and Charlie Humphries, discover the carnage the next morning, and are bewildered by the monkey’s manic state and sudden bloodlust. Later, John and Miriam watch a television interview with Sarah, who discusses her team’s efforts to find a cure for the aging process. That afternoon, the Blaylocks are visited by Alice Cavender, a promising teenaged violinist, who performs a piece by Schubert, accompanied by Miriam on piano and John on cello. Alice photographs John with her Polaroid camera, commenting on how much he has aged in the last few days. Desperate for a solution to John’s rapid aging, Miriam meets with Charlie the next day, while John reads Sarah’s book on the subject. When Miriam returns home, John reminds her that she promised him eternal life two centuries earlier, the same promise she made to her previous lovers, all of whom grew old and died within a week. John then asks if Miriam intends to replace him with Alice, but receives no answer. The following day, John goes to Sarah’s office and tells her of his plight. Sarah suspects John of being mentally unstable and asks her receptionist to keep him in the waiting room in hopes of discouraging him. John spends several hours in the waiting room until he can no longer control his thirst for blood. When he encounters Sarah in the stairwell, she is amazed by how quickly he has deteriorated, and apologizes for her rudeness, asking him to stay for an examination. John refuses and leaves the building, then unsuccessfully stalks a potential victim before returning home. Alice comes to the door asking for Miriam, unaware that the elderly man before her is John. She writes a message to Miriam, places it in on a statue in the music room, and photographs it with her Polaroid. John asks her to play the violin for him and she obliges, then asks her forgiveness, grabs her from behind, and cuts her throat. Miriam comes home to the aftermath and incinerates the body. Afterward, she carries her dying husband to the rotunda on the uppermost floor of the building, where she places him in a coffin, among the bodies of her other deceased lovers. Sarah visits the next day inquiring after John, and leaves when Miriam tells her that John has gone to Switzerland. Moments later, Police Lieutenant Allegrezza questions Miriam about Alice’s disappearance, and though she is heartbroken over the girl’s death, Miriam claims to have no information. That evening, Sarah is haunted by Miriam, and returns to the Blaylock home the following day. Miriam gives her a pendant in the shape of the “ankh,” the Egyptian symbol for eternal life, entrances her with a piano solo, then seduces her and drinks her blood. Later, Sarah has dinner with her boyfriend, Tom, but finds that she has no appetite for solid food. Tom is puzzled by her behavior, and suspects that there was more to Sarah’s meeting with Miriam than mere conversation. That night, Sarah’s sleep is interrupted by nausea, and in the morning, a physical examination reveals that a foreign strain of blood is overtaking her own. She demands an explanation from Miriam, who tells Sarah not to be afraid, and promises that the new strain of blood will give her eternal life. Sarah wanders the streets in despair, but is again drawn to Miriam. Tom comes to the house in search of his girl friend, and Miriam sends him to the bedroom, where he finds Sarah convulsing through the final stage of her metamorphosis. She insists that Tom leave for his own safety, but when he refuses, she cuts his throat and drinks his blood. Sarah is horrified by her actions and stabs herself in the throat, despite Miriam’s assurances of eternal happiness. Miriam carries Sarah to the rotunda, but suddenly finds herself surrounded by the risen bodies of her dead lovers. Fearing retribution for her betrayal, Miriam declares her love for all of them, but is repulsed when John kisses her. She backs over the banister, falling to her death. Within moments, Miriam has aged dramatically and her lovers crumble into dust. Weeks later, Lieutenant Allegrezza enters the empty townhouse, where real estate agent Arthur Jelinek informs him that the owners are deceased, and the proceeds from the sale will benefit a “research center downtown.” Elsewhere in the city, Sarah entertains her female lover in a high-rise apartment, which is also Miriam’s final resting place. +

Legend
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Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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