The Silence of the Lambs

“Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Brilliant. Cunning. Psychotic. In his mind lies the clue to a ruthless killer. Clarice Starling, FBI. Brilliant. Vulnerable. Alone. She must trust him to stop the killer.” ~The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

IMDB Summary: A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 95% (Really?! I’m sorry, is it not scary enough? Is the acting not perfect? Is it overrated? Nope, none of those. 5% of you are stupid.)

Why I love it: Because it’s a masterpiece.

When I saw this movie in the theater 24 years ago, it was the scariest movie I had ever seen. When I saw it for probably the 700th time two weeks ago, it was the scariest movie I had ever seen.

Like I said in the Magic post, I am in love with Anthony Hopkins. Always have been. The Silence of the Lambs, along with Rocky and …When Harry Met Sally is my favorite movie. It’s the only horror-type to ever win an Oscar for best picture. This, from the guy who directed Married to the Mob, Jonathan Demme, who won an Oscar for this, the only best director Oscar ever won for a horror movie. It doesn’t suck.

I also love Jodie Foster, mostly for the movie Foxes. But Cherie Currie plays “Annie” in Foxes, and she’s one of my favorite movie charcters with the same name as me. Her feathered hair, her tube top and spandex pants… so awesome. I have a friend who says Jodie Foster can’t act. When he told me that once, I jumped to her defense. “What about Silence of the Lambs? Taxi Driver? The Accused??!” Then I ran out of titles. He’s kind of right. But I love her anyway.

Future FBI girl-in-training Clarice Starling isn’t more than one generation from poor white trash. She’s tried so desperately to shed that accent, pure West Virginia. She could only dream of getting out, getting anywhere, getting all the way to the F-B-l.  She gets sent to meet with Dr. Hannibal Lecter at the insane asylum, the most intelligent and charming man to ever kill people and eat them. He’s a smooth criminal, a “notorious, cobra-like, intelligent psychiatrist turned psychopath.” (Read for a super cool in-depth review.) He’s smarter than everyone, quick with the insight and a wink of the eye. She needs information from him regarding Buffalo Bill, a serial killer on the loose who likes to skin his humps. She uses what little info he gives her and despite Dr. Chilton’s warnings, she tells him stuff about herself. Quid pro quo. She ain’t scared.

In the meantime, Jame Gumb is abducting size 14 girls and using their skin to make some kind of fucking sick costume for himself. He likes to sew and dance around and nurture exotic moths before he sticks them down the throats of his victims. He may be confused about his sexual identity thanks to years of systematic abuse. I’m pretty sure he has no friends. But he loves his little dog Precious.

Clarice and the doctor develop a mutually beneficial psycho-killer-helps-the-well-scrubbed-hustling-little-rube with the good bag and cheap shoes. He’s kind of her new daddy.

They let Dr. Lecter out long enough to ask Senator Martin about her nipples, compliment her on her suit and brutalize two guards. He guts one of them and hangs him up in a sick, Jesus-like display. He peels the face off the other one and uses it to escape. Clarice shows up at the killer’s house. In one of the most disturbing “OK, you got me” film moments ever, she pulls her gun out on Buffalo Bill, who lets out a little whimper before he gets away and proceeds to follow her around in the dark. She shoots him dead and saves Catherine Martin from the pit of hell and lotion. The lambs can finally stop screaming. Dr. Lecter ends up in somewhere that looks like Haiti, where he’s having an old friend for dinner.

I read an interview once with Anthony Hopkins who said he played Dr. Lecter very stiff and would let his mouth be the most expressive thing because, as a cannibal, that was his instrument of torture. And he would rarely blink. Oh, Tony. Have I mentioned how much I love you?

Just so ya know, Buffalo Bill’s house is for sale. It’s in Pittsburg. Check it out: You can buy the infamous house from ‘Silence of the Lambs’ right now for $300,000—and it’s actually quite charming. 

Next: The Other


Written by Anne Clendening
Anne Clendening was born and raised in L.A. She's a yoga teacher, a writer and occasionally slings cocktails in a Hollywood bar. She could eat chocolate cake for every meal of the day. She has a huge fear of heights and flying. And fire. She wishes she could speak French, play her guitar better and make cannoli. She's probably listening to The Dark Side Of The Moon right now, kickin’ it with her boxer dog and her hot Australian husband ★