Manhunter title

Tag line : Will Graham has the mind of a psychopath. Thank god he's on the right side of the law.

ManhunterLong before "Silence of the Lambs" became a box office smash, Dr Hannibal Lecter had actually graced movie screens once before in this lesser known adaptation of Thomas Harris's first book "Red Dragon".

The plot for this film revolves around a troubled former FBI investigator, Will Graham (played by a pre-CSI William Peterson), who is begrudgingly pressed back into service by his former boss, as they desperately need his unique skills to help them catch a serial killer, who's so far managed to elude them

Striking at each full moon, he's been dubbed 'The Tooth Fairy' (played rather menacingly by genre actor Tom Noonan), as he breaks into peoples houses in the dead of night and kills them in their bedrooms.

But despite Will's special insight into the criminal mind, even he seems to be struggling to discover the killers identity and is forced to enlist the help of a former associate of his, a certain Hannibal Lecter (played here by Brian Cox). A brilliant psychiatrist, as well as a criminal mastermind, who was once a police consultant, before Will Graham unmasked him as being a brutal serial killer himself.

Currently languishing in a maximum security psychiatric hospital, getting information out of Lecter proves to be no easy task, as he seems more interested in playing mind games than helping with the case. But with the next full moon fast approaching, its a race against time to try and and find out who the Tooth Fairy is and where he will strike next, before he gets the chance to kill again.

Directed by Michael Mann, who was better known at the time for the TV cop show "Miami Vice", the film is notably different in style to the later films based on Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter books. This one felt more like a TV detective thriller than a cinematic horror film, which isn't helped by the fact that William Peterson went on to star in "CSI" and the film also stars noted TV actor Denis Farina as FBI boss Jack Crawford, a regular in various TV cop shows. Though I think the overall feel was down to the fact that the director was still cutting his cinematic teeth at the time, as his later, more notable, films such as "Heat" and "Collateral", were completely different in style.

Also worth noting is that Dr Lecter doesn't really get that much screen time here and only features in about half a dozen scenes. The film focusing instead on Will Graham's efforts to stop the Tooth Fairy. Brian Cox's portrayal of Lecter is also notably different to that of Anthony Hopkins, who portrayed him in the later films. Coming across here as more of an eccentric, than a brooding psychopath, though he is no less sinister. There's also no mention of him being a cannibal in this either.

If you've seen the other films in this series with Anthony Hopkins, particularly "Red Dragon" which was adapted from the same novel, then you should check this out for comparison. Also, if you liked the TV series with Mads Mikkelson as Lecter, then you really should check this out as the series seems to owe more than a passing nod to this.

Overall Marks : 5/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • Alternate tag lines "Enter the mind of a serial killer... you may never come back", "It's just you and me now, sport".

  • The film was originally going to be called "Red Dragon" after the novel, but they decided to change the name as they felt it sounded more like a martial arts film. Also, the film "Year of the Dragon" had been a huge commercial failure for the film company, so they wanted to avoid the use of the word "Dragon" in the title.

  • The film's budget was $15,000,000.

  • Apparently the studios wanted director Michael Mann to cast Don Jonson in the role of Will Graham, as they felt he and the director had worked well together on "Miami Vice". However, he wanted someone different for the role.

  • Tom Noonan, who plays the killer, spent hours having a false tattoo of one of  William Blake's "Great Red Dragon" pictures painted onto his back (which is where the novel takes its name from). However, the tattoos where not ultimately used in the film. They did however appear in some publicity photos.

  • Denis Farina, who plays FBI boss Jack Crawford, was actually a former police officer and regularly appeared in various cop shows, including "Crime Story", "Miami Vice" and "Law & Order".

  • Brian Dennehy, John Lithgow and Mandy Patinkin were all considered for the role of Hannibal Lecter. But the director decided to offer it to Brian Cox after seeing his stage performance in the production "Rat in the Skull".

  • A couple of the actors in this also went on to appear in "Silence of the Lambs", though in different roles. Dan Butler, who plays Jimmy Price, played Roden in "Silence.." Also, Frankie Faison, who plays Lt Fisk, went on to play Barney the hospital orderly in "Silence..." "Hannibal" and "Red Dragon".

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