Hunger, The-Terrence Stamp Collection-Volume 2: Damnation (1997)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 15-Mar-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 135:26
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (80:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jean Beaudin
Tom Dey
Christian Duguay
Daniel Grou
Studio
Distributor
Showtime
Ovation
Starring Terence Stamp
Jason Scott Lee
Kenneth Welsh
Gregoriane Minot Payeur
Karen Elkin
Sally Kirkland
Curtis Armstrong
Kim Feeney
Robert Higden
Ilona Elkin
Nick Mancusco
Amanda de Cadanet
James Rae
Case ?
RPI Box Music Nick Amour
Klaus Badelt
Andy Carroll


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Forget the overwrought dialogue. Forget the overacting. Forget the stories that go nowhere. Forget the telegraphed story twists. Forget the naked women. Feel the art, damnit.

OK, don't forget the naked women.

Tony Scott's 1983 movie, The Hunger, was a vampire movie where style was held over substance, but once you relaxed into it, you could let yourself be carried away without caring about the poorly-defined characters or odd motivations. The television series of the same name may not be related - episodes being independent, 30-minute "erotic horror" drama pieces - but it attempts to capture some of the style of the original film.

Produced by Scott and his better-known brother Ridley, the TV series misses many of the things that made the film a genre success. Consistent scriptwriting? Partly. Direction that isn't pretentious enough to make you think that most of the directors have made just one too many commercials and are dying to make a name for themselves as auteurs? That too. Mostly, however, it is simply missing enough time for an audience to accept the characters and start to explore a plot. Tales from the Crypt showed that if you left character development alone, and didn't concentrate on reminding your audience at every opportunity that they were busy watching art, you could squeeze a fun little horror piece into half an hour - most of the time. It's easy to remember that with shows like Tales and The Twilight Zone there were at least as many duds as there were memorable shows. Regardless, it's easy to see how episodes of The Hunger could have been greatly improved if they were permitted to run an extra half hour.

Although there was a certain amount of star power in the show - directors included Tony Scott and Highlander's Russell Mulcahey, the cast is full of "hey, I've seen that guy before!" actors such as Jason Scott Lee and Margot Kidder, episodes are based on short stories by writers such as Robert Bloch, Poppy Z. Brite, Kim Newman and Brian Lumley, and Harlan Ellison is among the scriptwriters - the show was betrayed by its formula. What horror exists doesn't have enough lead time to build, and while full frontal nudity is involved, episodes outdo each other to ensure that any erotica present is somehow drained of passion. Everything else is lost among the jump cuts and intentionally bizarre camera angles until we arrive at the twist ending which - once you recognise that it is there - is rarely difficult to pick. Each episode is topped and tailed by a short speech delivered to camera by a Terence Stamp that is trying to be icily creepy while struggling mightily to avoid falling over the line into camp. Unfortunately, this stylistic nod to Tales from the Crypt only reminds viewers of the better-crafted original. Add to this the theme, which combines the most lyrical aspects of the dentist's drill with the migraine-inducing power of an angle grinder and a title series designed to say nothing while inducing epilepsy (no, there's no neatly-placed chapter stop to allow it to be skipped past), and the series is struggling before the episodes start.

There is a difference between watching a weekly show on TV and watching episodes successively on DVD. When episodes are grouped together, the strengths and weaknesses of the show become more concentrated. While this series may have been much more watchable over the course of 22 weeks, and while the occasional episode is far better than mediocre, I can't see myself setting a video to make sure I catch The Hunger.

Episodes on this disc:

The Secret Shih-Tan (28:00):
Craig Yu, a young and promising chef, meets a customer who appears to have the Shih-Tan - a fabled book of the finest recipes on Earth. What will Craig do to see the book and cook something that will let his diners "taste God"?

Bridal Suite (26:11)
Peter and his young bride come across a small bed & breakfast, just as a snowstorm is setting in. The landlady gives them the bridal suite, but warns them only to use it if Peter is faithful.

Room 17 (26:33)
Bert isn't a good salesman, and his shrewish wife is always hounding him about how little money they have. When the porn channel on his motel TV starts talking to him, has Bert gone insane?

Anas (27:36)
George Rain is an architect who is on business in Montreal. He asks directions from a girl who is sketching in a public square, then fantasises a relationship with her. Or is it actually a fantasy?

No Radio (27:06)
Jamie calls a phone late at night, looking for Miranda. It's the wrong number, but the woman who answers agrees to meet with Jamie anyway.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

This is quite a good digital transfer, despite some artefacts on the film.

The Hunger is presented in its original 1.33:1 ratio and is not 16x9 enhanced.

The outlines and shadow detail are adequate, although not exceptional throughout. There is a level of grain in the original film that is particularly noticeable in low-light scenes. There is not as much low-light activity as in the first disc of the series, making this less apparent than there, but it can still be distracting on a larger display.

Colours are generally good, where they are meant to replicate colours that exist in nature, but the palette is quite grey.

Although the digital transfer is relatively clean, there are white film artefacts throughout all five episodes, but due to the darkness in which it was filmed these are most noticeable in the episode Anas.

There is no subtitle track on this disc.

The RSDL change is appropriately placed between episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The audio doesn't try to do too much, and as a result does not disappoint.

The sole audio track is in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo encoded at 448 Kb/s - although the difference that this makes over the first disc which is encoded at 224 Kb/s is not noticeable.

The dialogue sync is accurate, except during the opening scenes of Bridal Suite where the dialogue runs slightly behind the video for a little over two minutes.

Music is generally reasonably produced, but can drown out the dialogue on occasion.

Surround channels are not used throughout the episodes, but are active during the menu scenes.

The subwoofer is not troubled throughout any of the episodes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

The main menu is preceded by a small snatch of the opening credits, accompanied by a whine that makes you want to skip through it as quickly as possible.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

The main menu is shown over the opening credits. Again, the hideous whine that accompanies the opening credits is here, making you want to skip past it as quickly as possible.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

Three one-page biographies are provided of actors and directors whose work is on this disc.

Gallery-Photo

A handful of stills from episodes on this disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

Over two series, there were 44 episodes of The Hunger produced. The Region 1 release takes the form of individual discs, each collecting four random (or, at best, thematically-linked) episodes together. For the PAL transfer, the season sets and the fact that they are shown in on-air order, Region 4's version is a clear winner.

Summary

A series that tries to do too much and leaves everything half-done. There is better episodic horror out there, and there is far better erotica. The Hunger is light entertainment that takes itself far, far too seriously and lacks the substance to do so.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Gaut (A bio? Have I no privacy?)
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayPanasonic TX-86PW300A. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-512.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-512
SpeakersWharfedale Diamond 8.3 fronts, Wharfedale Diamond 8.2 rears, Wharfedale Diamond 8 centre, Wharfedale 12" sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE