27 April 2017



'Would you f**k me? I'd f**k me...'

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 deranged psychopath nicknamed Buffalo Bill is abducting well-rounded, curvy young ladies in the midwest of America and, erm, skinning the living daylights out of them before he dumps them. It's not very pleasant, is it? No, but then murder never is...

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 ass she does. Well, I guess that if she'd gotten less than she bargained for, the film wouldn't have been as much fun. Besides, people never get less than they bargained for in films, do they? That'd be silly! Nah, they nearly always get more.

Former psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter is handsome, cultured, suave, educated and as deadly as a rattlesnake disturbed from its nap. His special interests are biting peoples' faces off, playing mind-games and indulging in a little light cannibalism when the fancy takes him. He'd make any lucky girl a terrific boyfriend, right...? 

He also has a terrific sense of smell, by the way. Oh boy, can he smell things! He can smell things from a mile away, this fella. Haha, don't mind me. I'm just being a bit vulgar for the laugh. If you've seen the film, you'll know what I mean.

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. She's right too. Nothing gives people a good kick up the arse more than the thought of a looming deadline, haha. 

Jodie Foster does a brilliant job as Clarice Starling, but it's Anthony Hopkins as Lecter who steals the show for me, and for most people, I would imagine. He plays the ice-cold, calculating Lecter to a T. It's his most unforgettable performance ever, although I've always loved him as Mr. Stevens, the perfectly unflappable butler from the immaculate cinematic tour de force THE REMAINS OF THE DAY, based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Hannibal Lecter is now as recognisable a horror icon as Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Chucky the evil doll, Leatherface and Pinhead. In Dublin's one and only Wax Museum, the Chamber of Horrors contains the Hannibal Lecter Room, in which a waxwork of the man himself stands behind bars that vibrate every so often. Kinky...! 

Even though I know he's only a waxwork, I'm still scared to stand too close to him in case he grabs me and bites me! Seated at his workbench just a few feet away from Hannibal is Buffalo Bill, stitching away at a new garment he's looking forward to finishing quite soon...

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!) Although in fairness, he does like the occasional musical interlude...

'Would you f**k me? I'd f**k me...'

Buffalo's Bill's 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 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 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...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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