Hannibal vs. Silence of the Lambs

If anyone can make 70s Italian splatter movies mainstream, Hopkins can.

That quintessential horror movie for adults that began nearly ten years ago with Silence of the Lambs has finally produced an heir. By replacing photogenic teen bloodletting with intelligent pathological suspense, Lambs set a new standard. Its sequel,Hannibal, knows that hitting that mark can be murder.

Cannibalized Differences


The Silence of the Lambs (February 1, 1991)

Release Date: February 1, 1991
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller, Horror
Runtime: 119 min
Original Title: The Silence of the Lambs
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: Strong Heart/Demme Production, Orion Pictures
Clarice Starling is a top student at the FBI's training academy. Jack Crawford wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford believes that Lecter may have insight into a case and that Starling, as an attractive young woman, may be just the bait to draw him out.

Cast The Silence of the Lambs

  • Jodie Foster
  • Role: Clarice M. Starling
  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Role: Dr. Hannibal Lecter
  • Scott Glenn
  • Role: Jack Crawford
  • Ted Levine
  • Role: Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb
  • Anthony Heald
  • Role: Dr. Frederick Chilton
  • Brooke Smith
  • Role: Catherine Martin
  • Diane Baker
  • Role: Senator Ruth Martin
  • Kasi Lemmons
  • Role: Ardelia Mapp
  • Frankie Faison
  • Role: Barney Matthews
  • Tracey Walter
  • Role: Lamar
  • Charles Napier
  • Role: Lt. Boyle
  • Danny Darst
  • Role: Sgt. Tate
  • Alex Coleman
  • Role: Sgt. Jim Pembry
  • Dan Butler
  • Role: Roden
  • Paul Lazar
  • Role: Pilcher
  • Ron Vawter
  • Role: Paul Krendler
  • Roger Corman
  • Role: FBI Director Hayden Burke
  • Lawrence A. Bonney
  • Role: FBI Instructor
  • Lawrence T. Wrentz
  • Role: Agent Burroughs
  • Don Brockett
  • Role: Friendly Psychopath
  • Frank Seals Jr.
  • Role: Brooding Psychopath
  • Stuart Rudin
  • Role: Miggs
  • Masha Skorobogatov
  • Role: Young Clarice
  • Jeffrie Lane
  • Role: Clarice's Father
  • Leib Lensky
  • Role: Mr. Lang
  • George 'Red' Schwartz
  • Role: Mr. Lang's Driver
  • Jim Roche
  • Role: TV Evangelist
  • James B. Howard
  • Role: Boxing Instructor
  • Bill Miller
  • Role: Mr. Brigham
  • Chuck Aber
  • Role: Agent Terry
  • Gene Borkan
  • Role: Oscar
  • Pat McNamara
  • Role: Sheriff Perkins
  • Kenneth Utt
  • Role: Dr. Akin
  • Darla
  • Role: "Precious" (as "Darla")
  • Adelle Lutz
  • Role: TV Anchor Woman
  • Obba Babatundé
  • Role: TV Anchor Man
  • George Michael
  • Role: TV Sportscaster
  • Jim Dratfield
  • Role: Sen. Martin's Aide
  • Stanton-Miranda
  • Role: 1st Reporter
  • Rebecca Saxon
  • Role: 2nd Reporter
  • Cynthia Ettinger
  • Role: Officer Jacobs
  • Brent Hinkley
  • Role: Officer Murray
  • Steve Wyatt
  • Role: Airport Flirt
  • David Early
  • Role: Spooked Memphis Cop
  • Andre B. Blake
  • Role: Tall Memphis Cop
  • Bill Dalzell
  • Role: Distraught Memphis Cop
  • Chris Isaak
  • Role: SWAT Commander
  • Daniel von Bargen
  • Role: SWAT Communicator
  • Tommy Lafitte
  • Role: SWAT Shooter
  • Josh Broder
  • Role: EMS Attendant
  • Buzz Kilman
  • Role: EMS Driver
  • Harry Northup
  • Role: Mr. Bimmel
  • Lauren Roselli
  • Role: Stacy Hubka
  • Maria Skorobogatov
  • Role: Young Clarice
  • Lamont Arnold
  • Role: Flower Delivery Man
  • John Hall
  • Role: State Trooper (uncredited)
  • Ted Monte
  • Role: FBI Agent (uncredited)
  • George A. Romero
  • Role: FBI Agent in Memphis (uncredited)
  • John W. Iwanonkiw
  • Role: Orderly (uncredited)
  • Philip Ettington
  • Role: FBI Agent (uncredited)

Trailer The Silence of the Lambs

First, there are big shoes to fill. Lambs showed how simple a formula need be for psychological terror. The fear of Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter was built up in Lambs by smart dialog and setting alone. Though trapped behind an impenetrable glass cell, Dr. Lecter’s mind was free to wander making him a formidable presence. His exchanges with Clarice Starling have entered the popular canon, most notably parodied by Jim Carey in both Dumb and Dumber and Cable Guy.


Hannibal (February 8, 2001)

Release Date: February 8, 2001
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Ray Liotta
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller, Horror
Runtime: 131 min
Original Title: Hannibal
Original Film Language: English
Production Companies: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Universal Pictures, Scott Free Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
After having successfully eluded the authorities for years, Hannibal peacefully lives in Italy in disguise as an art scholar. Trouble strikes again when he's discovered leaving a deserving few dead in the process. He returns to America to make contact with now disgraced Agent Clarice Starling, who is suffering the wrath of a malicious FBI rival as well as the media.

Cast Hannibal

  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Role: Dr. Hannibal Lecter
  • Julianne Moore
  • Role: Clarice M. Starling
  • Gary Oldman
  • Role: Mason Verger
  • Ray Liotta
  • Role: Paul Krendler
  • Frankie Faison
  • Role: Barney Matthews
  • Giancarlo Giannini
  • Role: Insp. Renaldo Pazzi
  • Francesca Neri
  • Role: Allegra Pazzi
  • Zeljko Ivanek
  • Role: Dr. Cordell Doemling
  • Hazelle Goodman
  • Role: Evelda Drumgo
  • David Andrews
  • Role: FBI Agent Pearsall
  • Francis Guinan
  • Role: FBI Asst. Director Noonan
  • James Opher
  • Role: DEA Agent John Eldridge
  • Enrico Lo Verso
  • Role: Gnocco
  • Ivano Marescotti
  • Role: Carlo
  • Fabrizio Gifuni
  • Role: Matteo
  • Alex Corrado
  • Role: Piero
  • Marco Greco
  • Role: Tommaso
  • Robert Rietti
  • Role: Sogliato
  • Terry Serpico
  • Role: Officer Bolton
  • Boyd Kestner
  • Role: Special Agent Burke
  • Peter Shaw
  • Role: Special Agent John Brigham
  • Kent Linville
  • Role: Geoffrey, FBI Mail Boy
  • Don McManus
  • Role: Asst. Mayor Benny Holcombe
  • Harold Ginn
  • Role: Larkin Wayne, I.A.B.
  • Ted Koch
  • Role: BATF Agent Bob Sneed
  • William Powell-Blair
  • Role: FBI Agent
  • Aaron Craig
  • Role: 'Il Mostro' Detective
  • Andrea Piedimonte
  • Role: Agent Franco Benetti
  • Ennio Coltorti
  • Role: Ricci
  • Mark Margolis
  • Role: Perfume Expert
  • Ajay Naidu
  • Role: Perfume Expert
  • Kelly Piper
  • Role: Perfume Expert
  • Judie Aronson
  • Role: News Reporter
  • Derrick Simmons
  • Role: Evelda Drumgo's Bodyguard
  • Chuck Jeffreys
  • Role: Evelda Drumgo's Bodyguard
  • Gano Grills
  • Role: Evelda Drumgo's Bodyguard
  • Giannina Facio
  • Role: Verger's Fingerprint Technician
  • Renne Gjoni
  • Role: FBI Agent Michaels

Trailer Hannibal

In Hannibal, the tables are now turned. Dr. Lecter (Anthony Hopkins reprising) finally has that room with a view in Venice. He’s eluded the FBI for a decade now while agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore replacing Jodie Foster) has been relegated to a confining desk job after flubbing a major drug bust.

Their paths may not have crossed again if not for a bizarre industrialist, one Mason Verger (this unbilled actor is so unrecognizable under his makeup you’ll be guessing his identity the whole way through). Serving as the one-upped analog to Lambs‘ Buffalo Bill, Verger is an avaricious ex-pederast and the only victim of Dr. Lecter’s that actually survived, but not without a few scars to prove it. With that voodoo that only Lecter can do, he convinced Verger to make himself a guinea pig for do-it-yourself facial reconstructive surgery. Vengeful, Verger has been staging a personal manhunt and enlists Starling’s superior Paul Krendler (creepy Ray Liotta) to use her to bait Lecter. To be fed slowly to wild pigs is Verger’s idea of retribution for his mutilated mug.

Once again, compared to his fellow players, the good doctor doesn’t seem all that bad. Therein lie the moral dilemma of Lambs which manipulatively forced us to root for Dr. Lecter. It’s not as easy to do in Hannibal, since he fills the antagonist role forthrightly, eviscerating and slashing along his merry way.

Hannibal Ferox

Where Lambs exhibited a level of restraint with its impending sense of doom, Hannibal‘s gore becomes masturbatory. There are scenes, particularly Verger’s flashback and the film’s ending, that are fantastically disgusting. Be forewarned. Yet, if anyone can make 1970s Italian splatter movies seem mainstream, Sir Hopkins can.

Almost as revolting are some blatant product placements. NetZero gets major face time. Even Dean Kamen gets some positive PR (you’ll know what I mean when you see IT).

Even the titles betray a stark difference. “Silence of the Lambs” of course referred to Starling’s deeply rooted psychological fears of her childhood living near a slaughterhouse. “Hannibal” is simply that. There are no revelatory sessions between doctor and patient this time around.

Another shortcoming is the muted relationship between Lecter and Starling. What began in Lambs as a disturbing paternal relationship becomes almost oedipal in Hannibal. Nevertheless, Giancarlo Giannini shines as Rinaldo Pazzi, the Italian police investigator who makes a stab at Verger’s million dollar bounty for Dr. Lecter. Hopkins is obviously enjoying himself as Lecter and Moore does the best she can with a legacy role. A very talented actress in her own right, yet not a moment passed in which I wondered what other dimensions Jodie Foster could have brought to Hannibal‘s rather 2D surface. Foster’s amiable southern charm made Dr. Lecter’s white trash remarks convincing. Moore has only a dash of that twang insomuch that Krendler’s similar jabs at Starling’s upbringing seem out of place.

Come to think of it, just as Hannibal really missed Foster, Lambs‘ predecessor, Michael Mann’s Manhunter, would have been all the more interesting with Hopkins. It’s a shame that the bookends of this trilogy weren’t under the same creative control throughout, if for no other reason than character continuity.

The same can be said of Director Ridley Scott’s earlier (and certainly more effective) thriller Alien. As each new chapter in that series unfolded with more and more unique perspectives, its audience lost more and more interest. On the other hand, sequels that only rehash get panned all the same. As crafty as it was, Hannibal proves that with sequels, either way you go you lose.

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