Hunger, The-Terrence Stamp Collection-Volume 4: Infernal (1997)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-The Hunger: The David Bowie Collection, Icemaker
Trailer-Confidential Report, All The Little Animals, Dish Dogs
|Year Of Production||1997|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
More through coincidence than otherwise, the episodes on Disc 4 are among the best of the series, and are more reminiscent of Tales from the Crypt or better episodes of The Outer Limits than the film-school projects that many others in this series resemble.
Episodes on this disc:
The Sloan Men (26:52):
Meeting her fiancé's parents for the first time, Judith's potential mother-in-law exposes Judith's fiancé and his father as inhuman monsters that control the minds of their women.
A Matter of Style (26:15)
Neville comes to self-awareness to find himself naked in a bar. A woman outside offers him a ride, telling him that he is a newly-made vampire and that she is his appointed mentor. But how hard is it for a vampire to hunt, anyway?
Lee Cooper is an anthropology student who has taken a night job as a security guard at a decrepit building site. When alone, she discovers an odd-looking woman running naked around the site.
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 and the outdoor, snowbound landscape of The Sloan Men.
Colours are generally good, and there is no evidence of low-level noise in the blacks.
Although the digital transfer is relatively clean, there are white film artefacts throughout all three episodes - less noticeable in these than in many other episodes, however. There is some evidence of the Gibb effect throughout Hidebound, which gives the effect of doubled grain around many of the sharper lines.
There is no subtitle track on this disc.
This is a single-layer disc and no RSDL change is necessary.
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 there are Foley sync failures throughout Hidebound, such as at 61:26, where a bell sounds slightly before a phone is hung up There are also odd dialogue volume fades throughout A Matter of Style.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
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.
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. If you are to try one disc as representative of the boxed set, the episodes on this disc are better (on average) than the others, but are not representative of the artistic self-indulgence of much of the rest.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Panasonic TX-86PW300A. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-512.|
|Speakers||Wharfedale Diamond 8.3 fronts, Wharfedale Diamond 8.2 rears, Wharfedale Diamond 8 centre, Wharfedale 12" sub|