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Movies Kelly Parks Review by
Kelly Parks
Manhunter
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MANHUNTER - 1986
Dino De Laurentiis Communications / Distibuted by Anchor Bay
Ratings: Germany, Norway, UK: 18 / USA: R

Knowledge is power. Here's an example.

You're at a friend's house, watching videos. You watch THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, a movie you've both seen before, of course, but it's just that good.

So you watch it and comment on it and discuss the sequel people are talking about. The movie ends and you casually make this statement: "That's one of my favorite Hannibal Lector movies." Your friend assumes you're kidding and asks, "What are you talking about? That's the only Hannibal Lector movie."

A sly smile comes across your face. "No," you say. "It's not."

MANHUNTER is based on the Thomas Harris (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, HANNIBAL) novel RED DRAGON. It was Directed and written for the screen by Michael Mann (THE KEEP), best known as being the creator of the TV series Miami Vice. It's the story of the burnt out FBI serial killer hunter who captured Hannibal Lector. Special Agent Will Graham (William L. Petersen: FEAR, THE SKULLS) was very good at catching these deviants because he was able to make himself think like them and understand their fantasies. After he caught Lector he wasn't able to stop thinking like him and ended up in a mental ward. He got better, but immediately retired from the FBI. The movie begins with his old boss, Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina: SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), asking him to come back to catch a new serial killer. This one enters homes late at night and slaughters whole families, then arranges the corpses into an audience and replaces their eyes with mirrors, so he can see them seeing him.

Against his better judgment and his wife's pleadings (played by Kim Greist: C.H.U.D., BRAZIL), Graham agrees to help. And in order to "get the scent back", he goes to visit Dr. Lector in his asylum cell.

Lector (played brilliantly by Brian Cox: THE RING, X2) has his back turned when Graham enters and recognizes his smell (specifically, his aftershave) first. Graham carefully keeps his back against the wall, staying as far from Lector as he can.

MANHUNTER is a fascinating movie. The new serial killer enjoys making his visits during the full moon, so the FBI team has a deadline, as it were. And Graham knows he can catch the guy if he's willing to share his madness, but that could easily mean another trip to the rubber room.

The serial killer is played by Tom Noonan (ROBOCOP 2, THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE, EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS), one of the creepiest looking character actors around. And the final scene will forever change the way you feel about the song "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida".

When THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS first came out, MANHUNTER was shown on TV under the title RED DRAGON. In spite of that most people have never heard of it. Take advantage of the opportunity and seem like a know-it-all. And if you want to take it a step farther, you can point out the two actors who are in both movies:

1. Dan Butler (THE FAN, ENEMY OF THE STATE) played Roden, one of the insect experts in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and also played Jimmy Price, the finger print chief in MANHUNTER.

2. Frankie Fraison (CAT PEOPLE, C.H.U.D., MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, THE LANGOLIERS) played Barney, the asylum guard in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL, and played Lt. Fisk in MANHUNTER.

This one gets four shriek girls. I can't give it five only because there is a scene where they have the most blatant of movie flubs: you can see the boom mike at the top of the shot!

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 1999 and 2001 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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Read Cristopher Hennessey-DeRose'
LIES HANNIBAL LECTOR TOLD ME:
AN ESSAY ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HORROR AND SUSPENSE


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