Hunger, The-Terrence Stamp Collection-Volume 6: Malevolence (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
Trailer-The Hunger: The David Bowie Collection Opening Sequence
Bonus Track-DJ Italic: The Hunger Remixed
Notes-The Hunger Chronology
DVD Credits
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 78:49
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
Lisa Bronwyn Moore
Nicholas Campbell
Joanna Cassidy
Serge Houde
Audrey Benoit
James Bradford
David La Haye
Sheena Larkin
Doris Milmore
Sofia Shinas
Paul Anthony Stewart
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

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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 a 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 Other Woman (26:09):
A new fashion designer and her mentor fall for each other, but his wife won't stand for an affair.

Clarimonde (26:38)
A newly-consecrated priest is assigned to a rural parish in mid-nineteenth century Quebec, but he is haunted by the image of a woman he glimpsed while taking his vows.

Footsteps (26:02)
A shapeshifting maneater is chased from city to city, but in Paris she meets someone who reaches her on another level.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is quite a good digital transfer, despite some artefacts in 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 artistic reasons, this is more distracting than one might otherwise expect.

    Colours are generally good, however again these are often intentionally distorted by directors in the name of "art". Many of the episodes have quite low levels of colour variation, which is more a factor of the directors' choices than the filming.

    Although the digital transfer is relatively clean, there are white film artefacts throughout all three episodes. There is also stock footage used during Footsteps which is glaringly apparent, and strobe-type lighting at 68:49 which causes substantial macro-blocking.

    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 accurate and dialogue is relatively distinct.

    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 for actors and directors whose work is on this disc.

Trailer

    A trailer for the second series of The Hunger that is also included on discs 1 and 4 of this set.

Bonus Track - The Hunger Remix (DJ Italic - 4:20)

    An audio track which purports to remix music from the series, but proves to be a very bland dance track.

Notes - The Hunger Chronology

    A list of all episodes of the two series of The Hunger, showing their original air order and date and the production order.

DVD Credits

    The identities and contact details of the set's authors and distributors.

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?)
Wednesday, March 23, 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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