Film Review: Manhunter (1986)

SYNOPSIS:

Using his uncanny ability to get inside psychopaths’ minds, former FBI agent Will Graham (William Petersen) returns to action to hunt down a serial killer. Graham retired after catching Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox) and subsequently suffering a breakdown. Now, he engages in a risky cat-and-mouse game with Lecter to capture a new killer. This gripping psychological horror film is based on the novel Red Dragon, the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs.

REVIEW:

Written by: Michael Mann
Directed by: Michael Mann
Starring: Kim Greist, Reba McClane, Brian Cox, Robin Moseley and William Peterson
Based on the novel by: Thomas Harris

Hello, fans of the Hannibal Lecter saga. This is for a film that some of you may not have heard of. This is based off of the original novel introducing Hannibal called Red Dragon. Although you are all probably use to Anthony Hopkins portraying the roll of Dr. Lector, he was not the original actor for this roll until The Silence of the Lambs. This film, although not as popular, was made almost a decade before Jodi Foster and Anthony Hopkins stole our hearts and ate it for lunch. The original film introduction to the world of Hannibal Lector is called Manhunter.

Of course, Brian Cox is no Anthony Hopkins in this roll. Honestly, I am so adapt to seeing Anthony portray Hannibal that no other actor would fit the roll in my eyes. In no way is this a bad film, but the presence of Anthony is absent. The original roll of Hannibal Lector almost ended up given to John Lithgow (The Manhattan Project, Harry and the Hendersons, Twilight Zone: The Movie) or Brian Dennehey (Night Visions and First Blood). In my opinion, John Lithgow, maybe. Brian, I’m not so sure of.

During production of the film, Hannibal was to have a massive tattoo covering most of his body. The artwork took six to seven hours a day to apply. One day, out of nowhere, the director changed his mind and did away with the concept. The Writer/ Director got more and more excited as the crew started to decrease in number. Most directors would cringe at the sight, but Michael thought this would leave him with more challenges to take on, which he loved. The rest of the crew were amazed by his tenacity but not quite on the same level.

William Peterson (Fear and C.S.I) actually started to become the character of Will Graham. He had to change his identity after filming to remind himself that Will was only fictional. That’s dedication, folks.. This roll is well known by most familiar with William’s work. Instead of saving his family from the teenage punk that has a crush on his daughter(such as Fear), he has to save them from Lector.

The colors used throughout the film are very eye catching from beginning to end. Very good usage of contrasting colors paint the production design and are shown on screen in almost a mesmerizing sense. The score is not bad. It has some qualities of Zombi. The soundtrack throughout the film is somewhat a different tune. It almost makes the viewer think they are watching Miami Vice or some eighties film (such as The Karate Kid part 2) with Peter Santera wailing in the background. That part, I could have done without.

The dialog was quite interesting for the most part. In one instance, Hannibal compared God to a killer that would crumble a church onto a group of his worshipers, which actually happened. I personally thought this comparison was awesome… and true. Love does come a little too much into play in this installment of the Hannibal series for my taste. The film portrayed Hannibal as he had dreams of being in love. The dream sequences were pretty crazy as well. Entertainment Weekly called this film “Superior to The Silence of the Lambs.” The entertainment was there, but I would not go as far to say that, or agree with the statement.

The DVD extras include a featurette called The Manhunter Look. This is a documentary with the cinematographer on the look and feel of the film. There is also a featurette called Inside Manhunter, which has interviews with some of the cast members. The special features are rounded off with a theatrical trailer and talent bios.

All in all, I’m not saying this is better than any of the latter mental ventures of Hannibal Lector (well, maybe Hannibal Rising), but it is worth checking out if you haven’t already. Some critics and fans call it one of the most unnerving serial killer films ever made. With that being said, I give this film, Manhunter, TWO HORNS UP.

Until next time, this was Jay. Keep one foot in the grave one fist in the guts and your eyes out for gore. Later.

For a complete list of movies I’ve reviewed and upcoming book releases, check out my page at www.myspace.com/headlinesnovel. Look for the Horror Anthology, Moral Horror (featuring Edgar Allan Poe and Jack London). Available now at Amazon, Betterworldbooks Barnes&Noble, Books-a-Million, Borders, Powells and Virgin Media

Now available in Blu-Ray from Fox Entertainment per the Hannibal Lecter Anthology

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