When Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve Played Vampire Lovers

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The Hunger, 1983(Film still)

Clare Waight Keller cited The Hunger, also starring David Bowie, as the filmic inspiration for Givenchy A/W18, a musing on Berlin’s glamour and grit

The Hunger (1982) is an agonisingly bad vampire movie, circling around an exquisitely effective sex scene,” wrote film critic Roger Ebert the year of its release. He may have been correct, there is a lot of artful snogging between Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon and not much else in terms of a plot. But, when it comes to style over substance it has it all – and sometimes, that’s all one requires for a satisfying watch.

David Bowie stars alongside Deneuve, playing John and Miriam respectively, a couple of married vampires who become entwined in a love triangle with Dr Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon). The overall effect, provided by director Tony Scott, is one of atmospheric eroticism, with Deneuve pulling off several looks that seem straight out of an Yves Saint Laurent catalogue circa 1980 while she’s at it. This season, however, it was Givenchy’s Clare Waight Keller that cited the film as inspiration for her stellar A/W18 collection. Here, we examine its lessons in life and style – from ensuring you decorate in the spirit of a Céline Dion video to wearing hot pink lipstick at every moment possible.

1. It’s either Bauhaus or Bach

In the film’s opening scene, the post-punk band Bauhaus provide the soundtrack for John and Miriam luring two goths away from a club, as Bela Lugosi’s Dead is ominously performed in the background. Needless to say, both meet a bloody end – but fortunately not before we are given the pleasure of seeing one of them getting off with David Bowie on top of a work surface. The rest of the film is largely soundtracked by classical music – mirroring the vampiric couple’s penchant for dueting on the piano and cello – including Trio In E-Flat, Op. 100 by Schubert, The Flower Duet by Léo Delibes and Suite #1 For Solo Cello In G-Major, Preludium by Bach. 

2. Couples who coiff together, stay together

The story goes that John and Miriam have been married for three centuries, after she turned him into a vampire in 1700s France, rendering him a slave to her sexual whims for all eternity – as you do. Naturally, with so much time spent together, they have begun to dress alike. This also rings true when it comes to their hair, which is blonde and coiffed to perfection at all times. Miriam has a particular flair for complex up-dos – and let’s face it, she’s probably had enough practice at them, being approximately 2,000 years of age.

3. Hot pink lipstick works miracles

She may be old enough to have witnessed to some of the most horrendous moments in history – including the hundred years war and Joan Crawford’s performance in Trog (1970) – but Miriam sure looks fresh for it. This is, in part, not only due to her flawless bone structure but to the hot pink lipstick she wears with every ensemble, enlivening her pallid complexion. (We’re also highly suspicious of subtle botox injections, but for the love of god don’t tell Catherine we said that.)

4. Your apartment should emulate a Céline Dion video

The interior of Miriam and John’s apartment is highly reminiscent of the video for It’s All Coming Back to Me Now by Céline Dion, if it were set in the greying backdrop of post-war Berlin. The walls are clad in austere marble, which is reflected in the glossy lid of a grand piano played by Deneuve, and white curtains melodramatically billow from open windows. We suppose their central heating bills must be astronomical.

5. Give no fucks

The aforementioned, Ebert-approved sex scene between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve caused shockwaves in the 1980s, with Sarandon’s mother receiving scathing and homophobic letters condemning her daughter’s decision to act in the film. Fortunately Sarandon – being the give-no-fucks woman she is – did just that and went ahead with her role as Dr Sarah Roberts regardless of criticism. And thank goodness, for without it we wouldn’t have one of the most amazingly butch-camp pairings in cinema today.