Monday, September 11, 2006

The Hunger “Fly by Night” – Review (TV Episode)

season 1 DVD box setDirected By: Pierre Dalpe

Season 1, released 1998

Contains spoilers

The Hunger was a supernatural TV series of short films produced by Tony and Ridley Scott. Despite the involvement of Tony Scott and the name of the series this was not related to the 1983 movie, though the series DVD insert claims it was inspired by said film. The subject matter of the episodes changed but what remained constant was an obligatory sex scene, some naked flesh and (often) flashes of lingerie. Season 1 was introduced, episode by episode, by Terence Stamp. The series itself is very good generally; however the quality can vary, from the pure horror (good) through to something like the Red Shoe Diaries with a murder/supernatural twist (poor).

Fly by night is the final vampiric episode of season 1 and begins with images of an inferno and then cuts into a hospital. A girl, Sonia (Kim Feeney), waits there as a naked man (Giancarlo Esposito), in restraints, is dragged in by two orderlies, he is screaming. They reach the admission nurse, whose face he spits into. The orderlies inform her that he was found in his current state, howling at the moon. Eventually they inject him with a sedative and lead him away, past Sonia who meets his eyes and sees a flash of a winged creature. She is approached by Dr Thomas (Don Jordan) and she tells him that he has admitted a vampire.

Sonia meets a naked vampireThe vampire is placed in a cage, within a padded room, and must have had his clothes close by when he was found as the orderlies throw those in with him. Meanwhile Sonia is being examined by Dr Thomas, who notes that she has not been taking her medication; he also mentions that she is a veteran. She persists in talking about the vampire and, eventually, attacks Thomas. He is rescued by the orderlies and she is taken to the same room as the vampire, but on the outside of the cage.

clearing his body of junkSonia tries to talk to the vampire who holds out his arm and ejects the sedative from his system through the needle puncture. When he replies to her he uses telepathy. Now this is not a constant, sometimes he speaks in her mind and sometimes by conventional means. However, once he has got dressed, he seems quite interested in what Sonia thinks he is, what it is that she perceives. At times she says that he is just another hallucination but at other times she tells him that he is a blood drinker and warns him of the impending sunrise.

During all this we get flashbacks to her days as a platoon leader in the armed forces.

She believes that he is her anniversary present and he tries to get her to tell him what anniversary that might be. He also tells her that if he is caught in the sun he will burn and she will have to watch him die. Eventually their hands touch and we get the full memory of what happened to her and her patrol. That's gotta hurtOf how they entered some tunnels in order to check the line – at which point, given the scenes of infernos, I assumed the gulf and oil lines – during their inspection one of the platoon, Mortenson (Kent Waters), loses concentration and triggers a trip wire bomb. This kills the platoon and severely injures Sonia. It is clear, though not mentioned, that this incident has caused Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and, given that fact that she sees things and hears voices, this has triggered schizophrenia.

Sonia tells the vampire that there was nothing she could do but he rebukes her, telling her that is an excuse. They revisit her memories but this time Sonia says “Don’t move” to Mortenson before the trip wire is triggered, two words that would have changed the entire event.

The question remains, can Sonia get the vampire out of the cage before the sun rises and can the vampire take away the voices she hears…

an attacking poseThis is an interesting little episode. The vampire demonstrates the ability to eject unwanted substances from his body, to use telepathy, walk memories and fears the sun. However we see little else in the way of vampiric activity. There are certainly no bites or fangs in this.

More interesting is, given what we know of Sonia, the question of whether the vampire is actually real or not. Is this all hallucination and, if it is, is it hallucination in the hospital or whilst dying from the explosion? If the vampire is real, did he really get caught whilst howling at the moon or did he allow himself to be taken in order that he might reach Sonia?

In truth the episode leaves all this hanging like a mystery but, rather than being annoying, the enigmatic nature of it makes the viewer think through the permutations.

Unfortunately the episode is not perfect. Whilst Feeney is good as Sonia I had trouble buying the idea that she was a platoon leader. Esposito is good as the vampire, and has a physical presence but we learn very little of him and that seems a shame. The obligatory Hunger sex scene, despite being energetic, seems gratuitous in this episode, tagged on because the series had such a scene in every episode. It really added nothing to the episode and even the fact that the scene was inter-cut with memories of the explosion didn’t help, it just made it seem like the filmmakers were trying to convince us the scene had a story specific reason for being there. The biggest problem was around the direction, which didn’t feel quite right, though in fairness Dalpe was a music video director rather than a TV director.

All in all I’m holding this to 4.5 out of 10, because of the intriguing story and even more intriguing ending, for which you’ll just have to watch the episode.

The imdb page is here.

5 comments:

AtlanticVamp said...

Taliesin,

Here in the U.S., they marketed the Vampire episodes on a video called "The Hunger: Vampires", complete with a girl holding a cocktail glass filled with red liquid and an eyeball floating in it. Surprised that you didn't mention the sex scene in "Fly By Night" (Because they ALL have sex scenes, this show...), which was hot and barbaric...which are not mutually exclusive. ;)

Just dropping a line,
AtlanticVamp (aka, Wendy)

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Atlanticvamp, always nice to have you drop by.

Your right about the sex scenes, they're in every single episode. I've just watched all 22 episodes of season 1 and have the 22 episodes of season 2 to look forward to!

Check the review again, I did mention the sex scene in fly by night towards the end of the review (paragraph beginning "unfortunately the episode is not perfect").

The scene was both hot and barbaric - as you so aptly described - and I think I refered to it as energetic but... in this one it felt tagged on because it had to be there, rather than adding something to the story.

I nearly bought the dvd of the vampire episodes, from the states,some time ago... however, the uk release happened recently (I think, or at least it was only recently that I noticed it) and they released them as box sets of entire seasons - so I went for that option.

In total I've reviewed three purely vampire episodes from the first season. The shame is the episode I did a vamp or not bit for - Clarimonde - as it was probably the strongest of the episodes and yet they cut all the vampire elements from the original story :-(

AtlanticVamp said...

T,

Yeah, it did seem a little out of place, considering all he was offering her is eternal life. (Of course, tons of vampire movies and blogs offer a little bit of---or a lot of---sex with the quickening. Poppy Z. Brite? Jemiah Jefferson? A couple of hundred movies I could mention?

I saw Clarimonde...while it seemed that you could suss out the vamp storyline IF YOU WERE REALLY INTENT ON READING BETWEEN THE LINES, yeah, they cut a bunch of crap out. It came off like a ghost story.

And...my favorite of them all it "A Matter of Style". It was just so damned cute.

AtlanticVamp said...

Hey...can I put your banner on my site?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Clarimonde I decided wasn't vamp - it was more succubus or ghost - but the story it was based on is very vampire check here for my thoughts and a link to the original story.

I'll mail you code for banner via myspace.