After a decade notable for its dearth of decent horror films, few could have expected a film as intentionally horrifying as Jonathan Demme’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’ bestseller to win the Best Picture Oscar, let alone become only the second film to win all five major awards, including Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay – not to mention becoming a worldwide smash hit, the most successful horror film of all time. Two decades, one sequel and two prequels along the line, Demme’s film retains its thrilling power, although Anthony Hopkins, on deliciously hammy form as Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter, seems as likely to munch on the scenery as human organs. Although the print is an improvement over the duff DVD releases, Blu-ray is not especially kind to the film, yet none of its shortcomings diminish a remarkable, ground-breaking and supremely influential film, with one of the greatest screen villains in history.
EXTRAS: Although the Criterion Collection maintains its monopoly on its Demme/Foster/Hopkins audio commentary, this edition arguably betters it with an in-picture commentary featuring those three plus, among others, screenwriter Ted Tally, Scott Glenn (Jack Crawford) and Anthony Heald, who was unforgettably creepy Frederick Chilton. Among the best of the additional ‘making of’ material is ‘Inside the Labyrinth’, an hour-long 10th anniversary special which includes such revelations as the fact that the film was originally set to star Michelle Pfeiffer and Gene Hackman. Also included: the original 1991 ‘making of’, a somewhat tacky 40-minute ‘Page to Screen’ featurette covering the book’s screen adaptation, an Anthony Hopkins answerphone message, featurettes covering Howard Shore’s music score, an HD documentary about serial killers and the men who hunt them, a few comedy outtakes, and a rag-bag of deleted scenes, including an entire subplot in which Clarice Starling and Jack Crawford are suspended from duty.