Queer Vampire

Hungry for Your Love
Streiber's Late Twentieth-Century Yuppie Vampires

by Alexander Renault

The 1983 film

The Hunger was based on a book of the same name by Whitley Streiber and revolves around two women, one a supernatural being, the other mortal.  Miriam is an ancient vampiress who has been walking the earth since her creation in ancient Egypt, remarkably portrayed as an emotionally cold yet sensuous Catherine Deneuve.  Her love interest in the film is Sarah, a research scientist remarkably portrayed by Susan Sarandon.

The vampire of the early1980s is rich and sophisticated, yet cutthroat.  Miriam has many things, expensive possessions and her own high-tech mansion in the suburbs.  Reflecting society at the time the film was made, these vampires are recognized via materialism.  Expensive jewelry is flashed in the absence of fangs. 

Another Eighties trend is a return to the representation of obsession regarding hierarchies.  In The Hunger this is taken to its extreme because there is only one vampire at the top.  There is no room for second best, even though Miriam craves a partner and turns Sarah into a vampire with the intension of keeping her around. 

This blood exchange occurs after Miriam seduces Sarah and the two are having sex.  In the film, the music during this scene starts out light and ethereal as the two physically bond.  There is no rough sex going on here and the visuals are striking, gentle and maternal.  Only the low hum of a cello denotes danger as Sarah’s blood is being poisoned.

Competition and excess were 1980s trademarks.  It is not at all surprising that Miriam manipulates Sarah into murdering her own husband and feeding on his blood.  Like anyone who has sold their soul to the Corporation, she knows exactly how to get rid of the competition. 

With blood streaming down her mouth and chest, Sarah is suddenly higher than the sky, her ingestion of blood mimicking the rush of the latest 1980s drug dujour.

The film does detail some familiar themes, particularly Victorian female friendship, that is until it becomes sexualized.  In earlier literature, actual female vampires rarely spoke to each other, let alone develop an intense symbiotic relationship.  What would they possibly have to say to each other?  This new vampire has a mind of her own.  Here they are going to be, quite literally, forever friends.

“It’s easy, isn’t it?” asks Miriam.

With her husband’s fresh blood streaming down her mouth, chin, and white shirt, the expression on Sarah’s face does not betray one iota of regret as she steps over her husband’s corpse to move closer to Miriam.

Miriam tells Sarah the general rules, like a recipe for corporate success.  This includes feeding one day in seven and sleeping four hours per night.  No more vampires afraid of the sunlight--their expensive fashions can also be seen in the daylight for all to appreciate.  This is how one stays on top.

What is missing in these modern vampiresses is genuine love, but hardly for lack of trying.  Miriam longs for an emotional, romantic connection with Sarah but we are left realizing it is not possible.  All her material possessions cannot translate into genuine caring.  The climate was emotionally chilling in the 1980s and Miriam is a builder of empires, not marriages.  Nina Auberach further elaborates,

The real twentieth-century talisman against vampires is not garlic or a crucifix, but Sarah’s diagnostic cry: “You can’t love me or anybody else.  You’re incapable of it!”  Dracula, the father of our vampires, was vulnerable to the same accusation from a former lover: “You yourself never loved; you never love!”  The twentieth-century vampires Dracula spawned mean many things, but they have lost the love they brought to those they knew. 

In the closing scene we find that Sarah turns the supernatural tables on her lover, leaving her decaying in the attic of her own mansion, forever paying an expensive alimony.  In the end it is Sarah who rises to the challenge of empire monarch. 



Alexander Renault
Bellefont, PA.

Reprinted with permission by QueerHorror.com