Fresh on Criterion: ‘SILENCE OF THE LAMBS’ roars with perfection


Preston Barta // Features Editor


Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Jodie FosterAnthony HopkinsAnthony HealdTed Levine and Frankie Faison
Available Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD through the Criterion Collection.

With GET OUT snagging a Best Picture nod this year, the relationship between the Academy Awards and the horror genre comes full circle with the Criterion Collection release of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which won Best Picture in 1992. It’s a film that’s not simply a horror flick that’s just fun and/or scary, and that’s all it has going for it. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS blends horror with first-rate drama.

For those who may not be up to date on the cultural zeitgeist, the story concerns a young FBI cadet (Jodie Foster) who is sent to interview a captured madman (a killer-good Anthony Hopkins) to find out about a serial killer (Ted Levine) who strips the skin from his female victims after they die and dances a blood-chilling, nude solo to Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses.”

Needless to say, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS takes many twists and turns, creating a suspenseful thriller that doesn’t share an equal. At the heart of it all is the relationship between Hopkins and Foster’s Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. It’s very much a high-stakes game of chess with words, where one is trying to get inside the mind of a killer while the other tries to learn an agent’s innermost secrets. It’s a perfect movie. And its original Criterion cover art, packaging and special features are worth the bite out of your wallet.

[Grade: A+]

Extras: The Criterion Collection release includes many archival featurettes and documentaries as seen in previous releases. Except now it’s all been rolled into one definitive edition that also includes a new 17-minute examination of people’s fascination with serial killers (critic Maitland McDonagh articulates how these stories make us feel more sane about ourselves), 38 minutes of deleted scenes and a nice booklet complete with essays and interviews.

All Special Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, approved by director of photography Tak Fujimoto, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Alternate 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 1994 featuring director Jonathan Demme, actors Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas
  • New interview with critic Maitland McDonagh
  • Thirty-eight minutes of deleted scenes
  • Four documentaries featuring hours of interviews with cast and crew
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Storyboards
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A book featuring an introduction by Foster, an essay by critic Amy Taubin, pieces from 2000 and 2013 by author Thomas Harris on the origins of the character Hannibal Lecter, and a 1991 interview with Demme

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.