Hunger, The-Terrence Stamp Collection-Volume 5: Revelations (1997)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1997|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (52:33)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/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.
Episodes on this disc:
Fly By Night (26:01):
Sonja is a war veteran who's being kept in an asylum. She recognises a new inmate as a vampire, and offers to help him escape in return for eternal life.
A River of Night's Dreaming (26:32)
A van transporting prisoners crashes into a river. Gena escapes and takes refuge in a house with two women who look to bring her to God.
The Lighthouse (26:02)
A writer, running from a broken relationship, volunteers to keep a remote lighthouse. While alone, he starts to imagine his perfect woman - Angelica.
The Face of Helen Bournouw (26:05)
Helen's lovers are at the top of their careers when Helen leaves them, and their obsession for her leads them to self-destruction. A journalist spots the pattern and starts looking for Helen.
Plain Brown Envelope (27:01)
Sophie is a journalist who's starting a series of articles as she hitchhikes across the country. She's picked up by Jess, in a truck painted like a plain, brown envelope. The truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere and the two climb into the back of the semi for warmth.
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 by preference, this is more distracting than one might otherwise expect.
Colours are generally good, although the palette is relatively thin in each episode.
Although the digital transfer is adequate, the transfers on this disc aren't as good as on the others in the series, with aliasing especially noticeable at 7:41 and 48:08, and macro-blocking quite substantial in some scenes with dramatic lighting changes such as at 22:23. There are white film artefacts throughout all three episodes, and the stock footage in the episodes Fly by Night and The Lighthouse is sharply different from the surrounding filmed pieces.
There is no subtitle track on this disc.
The RSDL change is well-placed between episodes.
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.
The audio sync is generally accurate, but occasionally falls slightly away during the episode Fly By Night, such as at 23:19.
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.
|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|