When asked if he’s a vampire she responds with “They don’t have a name for what he is”. The subject of the question is of course the legendary Hannibal Lecter played by Anthony Hopkins in the role that made him a big star and earned him an Academy Award in what is probably one of the finest pieces of horror-movie-making ever. Although the horror label is kind of debatable, but let’s not forget that Lecter is a psychopath that a one point skins a face of a guard and wears it as a disguise. You don’t see that in a thriller every day.
The Silence Of The Lambs has become pop culture gold. Whether people are quoting lines by Lecter or the other villain of the story; the under-appreciated performance of Ted Levine as Wild Bill who skins his victim and who’s the target of the manhunt going on. The lines where it orders his victim to put lotion on her skin and addresses her as an object are classic and greatly spoofed in South Park by Eric Cartman. Levine made a truly frightening 3-dimensional character out of him.
The movie is mostly remembered for the conversations between Lecter and Agent Starling (Jodi Foster) and they are the center of the movie to which the rest revolves around. These are two sharp minded characters who are well written and totally convincing to the audience. But there is so much more here. Especially the scenes with Bill are extremely creepy.
The only problem I had was with Lecters escape. Considered extremely dangerous his confinement at first is of the highest security and little privileges. Yet in exchange for information on the identity of Wild Bill he’s transported to a cage with only two cops guarding him and material to his disposal that was denied him earlier. And one of these materials he actually uses to escape. Of course Lecter has to escape in a brilliant way rather than just fleeing the scene so they have him switch his identity in a pretty disgusting and gruesome way. But it’s this part I found totally unbelievable.
Luckily one of cinema’s most tense scenes follows shortly after making you forget this implausibility pretty quick. I’m talking of course about the night-vision scene which is simply haunting even though it did feature a trained FBI agent alone in the field discovering by coincidence the identity of the killer. The damsel in distress in a position they would never find themselves in in reality because they always work in pairs or more. Also the fact that she did not immediately call her situation in while she had plenty of chances made me scratch my head. But it does serve the greater good of thrilling the audiences and should be compared to the car that won’t start.
Despite a little derailing at the end The Silence Of The Lambs is one of the best (horror) movies of all time.