Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1986. De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, Red Dragon Productions S.A.. Screenplay by Michael Mann, based on the novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Cinematography by Dante Spinotti. Produced by Richard Roth. Music by The Reds, Michel Rubini. Production Design by Mel Bourne. Costume Design by Colleen Atwood. Film Editing by Dov Hoenig.
Long before Anthony Hopkins became a movie star playing Hannibal Lecter, Michael Mann made this fascinating horror movie based on the first of Thomas Harris’s three Lecter novels. William Peterson is terrific as a haunted police officer investigating the work of a serial killer known only as the “Tooth Fairy”, and whose victims, usually entire families, seem to be selected randomly. To help him get a profile of the killer, Petersen consults the incarcerated madman Lecter (Brian Cox), who gets under his skin while also helping him catch the culprit. Petersen starts to go down the dark road of the Tooth Fairy’s mind in his search to catch him, and the road he takes is one full of horrific psychological experiences as well as physical ones. Much better than the remake, Red Dragon, this film also features an early performance by Joan Allen as a blind woman who gets much closer to danger than she should. It’s not as flashy as Brett Ratner’s version, but it’s a hell of lot creepier and more intense.