Sensual Slow Burn

I have a love/hate relationship with slow burn horror movies. Some I have to watch more than once to appreciate. The Witch is a prime example. Again, as a genre purist, I have a hard time wrapping my head around stories that break the rules. If you did a search right now for the best vampire movies ever made you’d see Only Lovers Left Alive, a 2013 film starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. As much as I liked the cast, the late Anton Yelchin also stars, this movie is a slow burn to nowhere and didn’t make the countdown. However, a much better, more stylish, sexier slow-burn vampire movie did.

26. The Hunger – 1983

The 1980s were a good time for horror movies. We saw the rise of the slasher genre and several good vampire flicks came out. The Hunger, starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon, strikes all the right early 1980s aesthetic notes. As a child of the 1980s whose horror genre sensibilities were crafted during that time, I am very sensitive to the nostalgia evoked by films like this.

Like The Lair of the White Worm, The Hunger pokes around in the margins of vampires and vampirism and plays on the avarice of the times and the overarching desire for immortality and eternal beauty.

Based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, written by James Costigan and Michael Thomas, and directed by Tony Scott, The Hunger tells the story of ancient Egyptian vampire Miriam (Deneuve) who uses her lovers up, quite literally, until she tires of them and moves on to fresh blood. The music from Bauhaus is maybe too on the nose, but the nightclub scene as the film opens is straight out of my teenage years and early 20s. The vampires in this movie don’t have fangs, they kill in more conventional ways, but they do drink blood to survive.

This stylish, erotic film is hauntingly beautiful at times, and ultimately tragic. Unlike slow burns to nowhere, this actually goes somewhere quite unexpected. It is currently streaming on HBO Max.

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