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Manhunter (1986) Review

by Yo Adrian on August 23rd, 2019 | | , , , , ,

Manhunter was directed by Michael Mann (who also directed The Keep) and stars Kim Greist (from C.H.U.D.), Brian Cox (from Autopsy of Jane Doe, Exit Humanity) and Tom Noonan (from Late Phases, The Roost). It’s about a burned out detective who once caught the infamous Hannibal Lecter and is now tasked with catching the newest serial killer on the block, The Red Dragon.

It’s just you and me now

Manhunter Review

Everyone knows who Hannibal Lecter is. Everyone knows about The Silence of the Lambs. But did you know The Silence of the Lambs is actually a reboot of an 80’s movie called Manhunter?

As a lifelong fan of Silence of the Lambs I was kinda blown away to find out it was a remake. And I was even more blown away after watching Manhunter and seeing how all of the most powerful scenes in Silence of the Lambs were put on film 5 years prior. Clarice feeling her way around the dark in Buffalo Bill’s basement while he could see her clear as day thanks to his night vision goggles? In Manhunter is was Reba, the blind victim feeling her way around the Red Dragon’s house. The serial killer, who the press calls The Tooth Fairy but who is actually called The Red Dragon, is a lot like Buffalo Bill in many ways, Silence of the Lambs nailed him perfectly in their casting. And of course Hannibal Lector’s character is spot on, he even asks Graham (the original Clarice) about his dreams and references lambs at one point.

So, clear source material for Silence of the Lambs and the last time I’ll mention it.

How is Manhunter as its own standalone movie?

Incredible! I loved it from start to finish. Not all scenes aged well, but overall it’s a super intense crime thriller with incredible acting, loads of suspense and a killer soundtrack. One song in particular that plays while The Red Dragon (aka The Tooth Fairy) takes care of business is haunting, not unlike the song that plays while Buffalo Bill is dancing around. Ok, last reference, for real this time.

The investigative work in Manhunter is also fascinating, mainly because they didn’t have internet or text messaging back then. Everything was either done by picking up the phone, by fax or by driving across town to show someone a piece of paper. But I think this is part of what made Manhunter so intriguing, you actually watched as over-worked detectives hit the street to piece together this mystery. It’s not like today where a bunch of people in suits just type away on computers or stare at some giant futuristic screen full of all the information in the world. These guys really had to put in the leg work!

William Peterson, the guy known more for his role as Grissom in the TV show CGI, was a big star of crime dramas before jumping over to TV and was solid in this role as a serial killer hunter. He did interact with Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter of course, but Hannibal had a surprisingly small role in this one. Manhunter was far and away about The Red Dragon and the FBI’s pursuit to catch him.

Worth Watching?

If you liked The Silence of the Lambs than you owe it to yourself to watch Manhunter. It’s the movie that started it all and did a phenomenal job at it.


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