"The Hunger," a baroque horror film starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon as uptown vampires, is all about life in the fast vein.Though she hasn't the traditional fangs, Deneuve is still plenty long in the tooth as a 4,000-year-old Egyptian alien now living in New York City. She's done nothing in that time except arrange lilies and play the piano. A flashback shows her gnawing at her first Nubian, and a later one in 18th-century England shows how she got her latest lover.
Bowie plays her 300-year-old lover, who looks 30 when the film begins. But like all those who came before him, he begins to decay, aging 170 years in two days. (It's a remarkable, prosthetic make-up job.) Deneuve can't stand the sight of his creepy skin and liver spots, so she puts him in a box in the attic with all her other mummified but undead lovers.
Meantime, she seeks a cure or, failing that, a new mate in red-headed gerontologist Susan Sarandon. The previously heterosexual Sarandon is seduced by Deneuve's cold beauty and her sumptuous, artifact- filled home. In a nude scene shot from great heights through gauze and accompanied by angelic music, Deneuve infects Sarandon with her vampire blood.
Once infected, Sarandon is driven to kill her concerned lover (Cliff De Young) and eat him. Cannibal kisses are the secret to immortality, and the vampires dine often in this film. Count Dracula is a class act compared to these new-wave ghouls.
Director Tony Scott, whose work closely resembles his brother Ridley's in "Blade Runner," transfuses his first feature film with post-Modernist flair -- filtered light, fabulous sets, doves and all manner of folderol. And at the top of the film, it looks like he might be on to something. Deneuve and Bowie, in military chic, cruise a trendy bar for dinner dates. A caged singer croons "Bela Lugosi Is Dead." There's style and humor, but the visual excess overwhelms the weak plot.
There are other big problems: Deneuve's accent garbles her lines; there is no comic relief, except the accidentally bad dialogue; there are subplots that just dangle because the minor characters have all been eaten; and the ending is incomprehensible.
The film's strictly from hunger.