DIRECTED BY JONATHAN DEMME. STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS, JODIE FOSTER AND TED LEVINE. BASED ON THE BOOK BY THOMAS HARRIS. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is a grisly little beauty of a horror film, which incidentally garnered a whopping five Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture, when it was released back in the early ‘Nineties.
The plot is a gruesome one indeed. A psychopath nicknamed Buffalo Bill is abducting well-rounded, curvy young ladies in the midwest of America and, erm, shooting them and skinning them before he dumps them. It’s not very pleasant, is it?
Figuring that it takes one violent psychopath to know another violent psychopath, the FBI in their infinite wisdom send Agent Clarice Starling, a dedicated but still green-around-the-edges young rookie operative, on a very special mission. And what, pray tell, might this mission be…?
Well, folks, she’s got to go and talk to incarcerated criminal Hannibal The Cannibal Lecter, superbly played by Anthony Hopkins, to see if he can give her any insights into the sick and twisted mind of a nut-job like Buffalo Bill. Does she get more than she bargained for? You can bet your sweet butt she does…
Former psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter is handsome, cultured, suave, educated and as deadly as a rattlesnake disturbed prematurely from its nap. His special interests are biting peoples’ faces off, playing mind-games and indulging in a little light cannibalism. He’d make any lucky girl a terrific boyfriend, right…?
Lecter worms his way right into Clarice’s brain within literally seconds of meeting her. He’s more than a little interested in her and she has to keep reminding him that a Senator’s daughter is the latest victim to be abducted and that, if Buffalo Bill’s previous form holds true, they’ve only got three days at the most in which to save her…
Jodie Foster does a brilliant job as Clarice Starling, but it’s Anthony Hopkins as Lecter who steals the show for me. He plays the ice-cold and calculating monster Lecter to a T. Ted Levine also gives an unforgettable performance as the mentally unstable, transgender-wannabe serial killer who collects rare moths and is a dab hand with a Singer. (That’s a sewing machine, in case you didn’t know!)
Buffalo’s Bill’s dismal, uncared-for home is a sort of cross between the Bates Motel and the Gein family farmhouse. This is apt since serial murderer Ed Gein, the inspiration for Robert Bloch’s Norman Bates in PSYCHO, is one of three real-life psychopaths on whom the human-skin-wearing screwball Jaime Gumb (Buffalo Bill) is modelled. The other two, by the way, are Ted Bundy and Gary Michael Heidnik. Just in case you wanted to know.
Jaime Gumb’s basement is grim, dank and absolutely terrifying. The scenes in which it features give the viewer a real sense of what it must feel like to be at a serial killer’s mercy.
‘It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again…’
Of course, with regard to those climactic scenes in the basement, if it had been real-life, little Clarice Starling would have had her rookie butt fired for running around alone and unauthorised in the suspect’s murder-basement like a headless chicken, endangering both her own life and the life of the kidnapped girl. But, hey, it’s a film, and you’ve got to allow for some leeway and some suspension of disbelief, right…? Right.
I’m off now to re-watch the sequel, Hannibal, and the prequel, Hannibal Rising, both of which make for gripping viewing. I’m a bit peckish, too, now I come to think about it. Can someone please pass the fava beans? They go down great with a nice Chianti…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: