Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Hunger “A Matter of Style” – Review (TV Episode)

season 1 DVD box setDirected By: John Hamilton

Season 1, released 1997

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).

This was a little bit of a departure for the series as it was a comedy episode, that is not too say that there has been no comedy in other episodes but the comedy you would expect would be black comedy whilst this plays to the concept of farce. The film opens with a man, we later discover to be Neville (Chad Lowe), walking into a bar, he elicits looks of shock and amusement as it is fairly clear that he is naked. It is also clear, as he approaches a woman to chat her up, that he is unaware of this – until the bartender (Eric Goulem) makes him very aware.

He rushes out of the bar in horror. For a second we think it will all be the standard naked in public dream but no, he ends up nude on the city street and it is clearly no dream. A red sports car pulls up and the driver, Carmilla (Isabelle Cyr), tells him to get in, which he eventually does. There is a derisive comment that on the first night they always forget their clothes. Then she explains that he is a vampire and she has been assigned to him to ensure that he survives his first nights as a member of the undead. Neville admits that being a vampire will take some getting used to and Carmilla reminds him that it is better than the alternative, which is of course being dead.

eyes flash greenThis teacher/pupil relationship allows the filmmakers to very quickly run through the rules of vampirism. They are awake between sunset and sunrise, during the day they sleep and do not dream. They feed on blood, human only, and must feed once per week if they don’t it is very unpleasant. We also see in this section that the vampires’ eyes often flash very bad cgi green.

As they pull up Neville asks if he can turn into a bat. Carmilla tells him that only the very old Neville and Carmillavampires can do that but he can take on any human form. He can also materialise objects. When Neville indicates that he wants a car like Carmilla’s, she suggests that perhaps he should start with something easier – like clothes. After some effort he creates clothing, a rather large puffer jacket materialises on his body. They have stopped at a cemetery and Carmilla leads him to his own grave, after transforming his headstone into something grander for him, she suggests that he gets some sleep – he has to make his first kill the next night.

Bad styleHe enters the bar again, this time dressed like a fop. He chats a girl up at the bar and makes a fool of himself and yet she still responds. Leaving together she tells him that it is $200. Disgusted that she is a prostitute he leaves. Carmilla can’t believe he did this – there is some banter about not wanting to catch anything and a reminder that he is already dead - but then she recognises that he wanted to make his first time special, referring to the kill. However his words quickly makes her realise that he is still a virgin.Coffin transportation He has made a start in order that he might change this, he claims, he has found an apartment that he can take girls back to. This leads to them shipping his coffin on the sports car roof.

As he believes that it must be easy for Carmilla to pick up victims, given that she is beautiful, she suggests he hunts as a woman (in these scenes Neville is played by Claudia Besso). Despite not loosing the general clumsiness, (s)he manages to chat up a geek and then succeeds in scaring the geek off, the line asking whether he had ever done it in a coffin being the last straw for the potential victim.

Finally Neville goes to the bar and acts naturally. He rescues a girl from a sleaze-ball and they are getting on great. It is fairly obvious to the viewer that the girl is really Carmilla, but not to Neville. When he feeds he cuts the skin with a talon like nail rather than biting and it is worth noting here that we never see fang, neither in a bite nor a flash within a smile or sneer. When he realises, afterwards, who it is he is distraught but Carmilla has done it because she is actually attracted to him. Isabelle Cyr as CarmillaAs well as that he has learnt how to harness his own style. From then on they hunt as partners and the film ends with their first meal together, a meal unseen through the cemetery gates, only heard.

The comedy is fairly amusing in this but it is not hilariously funny. There is an obvious morality tale here, one of be yourself, but generally the film is a gently humorous little sideways look at the vampire, with the vampires conforming to the typical standards, with the exception of materialisation which seems like a damned useful trick. The name of the female vampire is an obvious reference to the story Carmilla - though there is nothing to say that the character in this is *the* Carmilla. The performances are passable, but none of the cast gave the impression that they are would-be comedy geniuses.

The cgi over the eyes is poor, seeming somewhat out of place, and there is a distinct lack of locations. That said the episode is generally entertaining enough, but seems a little pointless in comparison to other episode in the series as though it was almost a filler episode. 4 out of 10 reflects the fact that it isn’t too bad, with no really glaring problems that would force the mark down further, but it is, ultimately, forgettable.

The imd page is here.

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