The Hunger (1997 series)

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Scene from episode "The Secret of Shih Tan" from The Hunger (1997 series)...


An "adult" themed horror anthology series featuring stories tending toward themes of self-destructive desire and obsession, erotica, cannibalism, vampires, and sex.


  • Release Date: 1997-2000
  • Country/Language: Canada/UK/US, English
  • Genres/Technical: Adult, Horror, Fantasy (dark fantasy, urban fantasy), Anthology
  • Runtime: (generally formatted for a 30-minute commercial television slot)
  • Starring: (various), hosted by Terrance Stamp (season 1) and David Bowie (season 2)
  • Director: (various)
  • Writer: (various)
  • Producer/Production Co: The Movie Network (TMN), Scott Free Productions, Telescene Film Group Productions, Showtime
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • View David Bowie's Bizarre, Rambling Intros: Episodes 1-11 (link), Episodes 12-22 (link)
  • IMDb page: (link)
  • Wikipedia page: (link)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: TV-MA (strong Sexual Situations, Nudity, Adult Content, Profanity, Violence)

The selling point for this series was essentially "adult" horror, with sex scenes and gore jammed into every story whether appropriate to the story or not. (The show sometimes runs on cable in a censored format.)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

This show was generally not very "Lovecraftian"; stories contributed by the likes of Harlan Ellison, Karl Edward Wagner, Brian Lumley, Poppy Z. Brite, Tanith Lee, Ramsey Campbell, and Gemma Files could theoretically count, but this series seems to have generally stripped anything interesting out of the source material, replacing it instead with only the most bland and conventional sorts of horror possible in all but a couple of instances. The occasional tentacle might appear here and there, a variation on an eldritch tome or two might appear, and there might be the occasional Ghoul or Deep One analogue, in any case, and a couple of the stories could probably be adapted to effective Call of Cthulhu scenarios with minimal work.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Sylvia Moreno-Garcia at Innsmouth Free Press (link) - "The Hunger probably wanted to be dark, elegant and artsy. Instead, it came out as timid and hackneyed. Every episode has a prerequisite quota of erotic content and blood, but this formulaic approach means you can almost pinpoint by the clock the moment when characters A and B will take off their clothes and get it on in a brief, quasi-tasteful montage. Many of the big 'reveals' are not big at all... nevertheless, this is a unique show in the way that it combined sex and horror for the TV screen...."
  • Eamonn McCusker at The Digital Fix (Season One) (link) (6/10) - "t's a pity, though, that The Hunger needs to include so much nudity and that perfectly good horror storylines find themselves waylaid by the inevitable sex scene but from time to time, like in But At My Back I Always Hear, The Secret Shih-Tan, Clarimonde and The Lighthouse, it becomes very good indeed. Like the books of Poppy Z Brite, put aside the often silly fantasies and The Hunger can be excellent but far too often it, like Brite, indulges itself in erotica that's not awfully thrilling."
  • Eamonn McCusker at The Digital Fix (Season Two) (link) (6/10) - "Season Two feels like it ought to be a better season but isn't. ...but the entire season simply isn't as convincing. There appears to be much more nudity and sex scenes and although I'm no prude, they do get in the way of the horror."
  • Y.Whateley - "I found watching The Hunger to be an uncomfortable experience, and not in any fun way. Generally, the show seems to feel cheap and sleazy, with fairly dull and conventional stories and frequently pointless sex scenes jammed into places they didn't seem to belong apparently for the sake to meeting a rather narrow and unimaginative style guide. Occasional 'Lovecraftian' elements manage to sneak in from time to time, seemingly by accident, and there is nothing essential here, though a couple of the stories could probably be adapted to effective Call of Cthulhu RPG scenarios with minimal effort. Adaptations of stories I'm familiar with (like "The Swords") were generally shallow, seedy, and weak; generally cheap special effects and production values and sleazy and unnecessary sex scenes tended to drag down all the stories. In most cases, the best part of any given episode were the bizarre, rambling, non-sequitur, avant-garde, surreal, monologue introductions/performances seemingly ad-libbed by hosts Terrance Stamp and (especially) David Bowie: I would often have no clue what they were talking about or how it related to whatever lame episode I just watched, but they were never dull. Overall, The Hunger is probably best avoided by all but the most curious of 'Lovecraftian' film connoisseurs, aside from perhaps a couple of the suggested episodes listed below."
  • Graham - "I've not watched the series, but the David Bowie intros (For some reason no one has uploaded the season 1 intros.), all of which can be seen as musings on the edge of the abyss, are things that may prove inspiring on their own. Of those the ones for "Skin Deep", "Nunc Dimittis", "I'm Very Dangerous Tonight", "Wrath of God", "Night Bloomer" & "Triangle of Steel", are probably best suited."

Synopses and Suggested Episodes

  • Suggested episodes:
    • "The Swords" (Episode 1x01) - A man starts dating an erotic nightclub star who can apparently survive being stabbed with swords. Very loosely based on the unsettling short story by Robert Aickman.
    • "Menage a Trois" (Episode 1x02) - A young nurse is hired as a live-in caretaker for an older woman who lives with her young, good-looking handyman.
    • "The Secret Shih Tan" (Episode 1x04) - A master chef is offered the chance to read the last copy of a shunned sacred text containing sanity-blasting recipes written to the tastes of the gods, and balks when he finds that the main ingredients are living human beings.
    • "The Sloan Men" (Episode 1x12) - Through a shocking revelation by her future mother-in-law, a young woman comes to realize her fiancé and his father aren't exactly human.
    • "Hidebound" (Episode 1x14) - A young female security guard is attacked by a feral and murderous spirit.
    • "Replacements" (Episode 2x12) - A doctor discovers that the hospital where he works is breeding a horrid race of mutant shrieking changeling babies with the power of mind control.
    • "The Sacred Fire" (Episode 2x17) - A woman allows a artist drifter into her home only to discover that he really has a mission to protect humanity from inhuman monsters masquerading as the homeless.
  • Additionally, episodes based on stories by Harlan Ellison, Karl Edward Wagner, Brian Lumley, Poppy Z. Brite, Tanith Lee, Ramsey Campbell, and Gemma Files could theoretically include "Lovecraftian" elements, but probably aren't among the "highlights" of this series.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Depending on who you ask, this show was either loosely inspired by the 1983 vampire movie of the same name also starring David Bowie, or the series had nothing to do with the film aside from a coincidental focus on sex and vampires.


  • "Time passes. Things change. But we're still stuck inside our bodies. Still ourselves. Now and forever. You may want to get out. But there is no way out. Even when we die, we die as ourselves. And for some people this is the true nightmare. They can't stand themselves, they need to change. But you can't change, unless you are lucky enough to know somebody who can change you. Dye your hair, paint your face, tattoo your body, transform yourself utterly. Never enough, nothing ever is. And you'll never be satisfied until you face the stark naked horror of your own failure to, what, survive, adapt, accommodate your own existence. However you wish to describe it, the fact remains there is no escape except a single final act. Death, only this will set you free." - David Bowie (From the introduction to "Skin Deep")
  • "...You can kill, you can betray, you can utterly destroy anything and anyone, you can give yourself over completely to your darkest passions. But passions fade, the consequences however, those you have to carry with you for the rest of your life." - David Bowie (From the introduction to "I'm Very Dangerous Tonight")
  • "...What is good, what is evil? For some, the Inquisitor does Gods work. For others he's the Devil's truest disciple. Actions are amoral in and of themselves. It's not the what, but the why, the how, that shade a thing with goodness or with ill. It's simply a question of context." - David Bowie (From the introduction to "Wrath of God")

Associated Mythos Elements

  • TO DO

Keeper Notes

  • "The Secret Shih Tan" - the premise of a tome in the form of a cook book of forbidden recipes does have intriguing possibilities; just add Tcho-Tchos...
  • "Replacements" - The investigators track a number of bizarre accidents and crimes to a hospital where a hospital is breeding horrible mutant mind-controlling infant changelings for women to care for; just add Ghouls...