Besides its name (and Tony and Ridley Scott as producers) the short-lived erotic horror anthology series The Hunger didn’t have much in common with the classic Bowie/Deneuve/Sarandon soft-porn vampire classic film of the same name. However, it sure had an interesting idea, and though the quality of the episodes is erratic, there are definitely some stories that are watchable.
After the excruciating banging-pots-and-pans-together music in the opening credits, there is an episode prelude with our “host” for the show, none other than Terence Stamp. There he is lounging in a bathtub, or roasting squirrels over a fire (really!), often wearing silly themed outfits, and waxing poetic about the moral themes that will be revealed in that episode. He serves as kind of a goth-camp Rod Serling for The Hunger (and apparently was replaced by David Bowie for Season Two!).
Each episode is stand-alone and a tidy half-hour. Since this was shown on Showtime, I believe that since it was from the mid-to-late-90s, that it would fall easily into that mysterious category of late-night Showtime soft-core porn. In each story, the characters will indeed get nekkid and get busy, and show you quite a bit more than you would get on network TV. But the porn aside, The Hunger deals not just with vampires, but is more themed about the hunger for sex, power, love, immortality, etc. So rather than sticking to vampires, other grotesqueries like cannibalism, devouring lovers for youth, selling souls for personal gain, and what have you is explored.
There is indeed a curiosity factor for many of the episodes, as they often have “name” cast members that are either recognizable and/or went on to bigger and better things. For instance, in “Menage a Trois” you can see pre-fame houseboy Daniel Craig get ravished by nurse Lena Headey for invalid Karen Black’s personal gain. Or Balthazar Getty falls for a beautiful performance artist who can be impaled with swords. One of the better-formed episodes, “The Secret Shih-Tan” (starring cutie Jason Scott Lee… whatever happened to him anyway?), portrays a chef who is given the ultimate ancient recipe, of course at a horrible price.
But unfortunately The Hunger is just simply not good enough to be truly memorable. At half an hour, the 22 episodes are usually short enough to just keep you vaguely interested… just before falling asleep. This is the sort of late night show that you may have watched as a snooze-aid, rather than as a late-night aphrodisiac.