Hunger, The-Terrence Stamp Collection-Volume 3: Darkling (1997)

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Released 15-Mar-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 82:21
RSDL / Flipper No/No 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
Michael Gross
Cary Lawrence
Karen Elkin
Thomas Arana
Liliana Komorowska
Benoit Briere
Dorothee Berryman
Marie-Josee Croze
Desmond Campbell
Esai Morales
Case ?
RPI Box Music Nick Amour
Klaus Badelt
Andy Carroll


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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:

But At My Back I Always Hear (27:04):
Frank Ingram, a Professor of American Literature, is harassed by a student who insists that he is calling her and sending her messages. Is she really just hearing voices?

Red Light (27:42)
A supermodel, suddenly uncomfortable under the flash of cameras, feels that her soul is being taken by the photographers. She runs from a catwalk show to seek sanctuary in the flat of her ex- - himself a photographer.

I'm Dangerous Tonight (27:35)
A demon drops a bolt of red cloth through the skylight of a Parisian fashion designer. She makes a dress from it, and asks her assistant to model the dress for an American couple.

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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 generally adequate, although not exceptional throughout. There is a level of grain in the original film that is particularly noticeable in low-light scenes. As the directors appear to choose to work in moodily-lit areas for preference, this is more distracting than one might otherwise expect. This is especially bad in the episode Red Light, and the grain is quite visible at time, even in good light.

    Colours are generally good, however again these are often intentionally distorted by directors in the name of "art". During Red Light, there is an increased use of shadow effects, which the lack of shadow clarity instead separates into strict visible-and-black areas.

    Although the digital transfer is relatively clean, there are white film artefacts throughout all three episodes.

    There is no subtitle track on this disc.

    This is a single-layer disc and no RSDL change is necessary.

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

Audio

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

    The sole audio track is in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo encoded at 224 Kb/s

    The audio sync is generally accurate, but occasionally falls slightly away during the episode I'm Dangerous Tonight - never too greatly, but enough to be noticed.

    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.

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?)
Thursday, March 17, 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

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