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Some characters are better when presented mysteriously, and such is definitely the case with Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs. Then again, he isn’t the only character harboring mysteries and secrets. In addition to the film’s other main serial killer, Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb (Ted Levine), you have FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster). From the film’s beginning, we get a sense of her somewhat cold, distant, detached personality, and a lingering sense that she may have some mental ailment, something holding her back yet forcing her to prove herself.

Obviously, as The Silence of the Lambs progresses in its cat-and-mouse games, Dr. Lecter explores certain elements of her psyche, and there are no strong hints she is putting up a false front. Also, curiously, Hannibal seems to respect her for doing this, rather than sadistically toy with it as much as he could. This is, of course, in stark contrast with how he treats certain other characters, such as U.S. Senator Ruth Martin (Diane Baker), who is particularly victimized by his snide humor. So the question becomes: What is with Dr. Lecter’s decisions in this film? That’s as interesting as it is mysterious.

Dr. Lecter’s Perception as Shown in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’

Before he worked in Florence, Italy under the stolen identity of Dr. Fell in the film Hannibal, most of us knew Hannibal Lecter as an exceptionally unique inmate at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane (obviously, this title might now be deemed politically incorrect, but it flew back in 1991). We quite instantly recognize Lecter as a complex, intriguing, menacing character, who creepily never seems to blink and always has insight into the psychology of anyone in the room. Yes, he makes it clear to Clarice that he’s dangerous, but (in his own ways) tries to reassure her that he’s somehow a civilized murderous cannibal.

It’s a strange and volatile cocktail of character elements, and the average viewer surely wonders how many he has killed and fed from versus how many he has spared, and for what reasons. Also, because Clarice is difficult to read, we don’t quite know how vulnerable she really is to Dr. Lecter. We do know that, if he is unconvinced she is being genuine, he’s unlikely to assist her in any way. This already provides some insight into how his mind works. Like practically anyone else, Dr. Hannibal Lecter has some respect for honesty, integrity, and a willingness to engage one seriously and with fairness. At the same time, Lecter is aware of the dual nature of his engagements with Clarice, so he knows there must always be some level of deceit between the two of them, making The Silence of the Lambs a psychological game of cat-and-mouse.

Lecter’s More Refined Side vs. the Articulate, Brooding Brute Behind Glass

Because of the groundwork laid by The Silence of the Lambs, audiences came to know and respect who (and what) Dr. Lecter is. The events of this film helped us believe that, yes, Lecter can speak near-perfect Italian and is widely knowledgable about things like the history of Florence, Italy. We also recognize that, to a considerable degree, this veil of high culture and encyclopedic knowledge base allowed him to conceal his brutal side. In fact, we are given the impression that, if Clarice isn’t careful, she might think the stories she has heard about him are lies.

In a way, Clarice ends up lowering Dr. Lecter’s own defenses in the cat-and-mouse game, too. It seems he cannot approach her from any single angle, due to her often unassuming manner, yet she’s fully capable of challenging him if he is deceitful, showing a lack of fear and enough charisma to impress him. For example, Lecter blunders noticeably in his attempt to prevent her image from being sexless, as he improvises stories about her sexual encounters. She notes he is being crass, and he noticeably retreats from this psychological line of attack, or maybe even clumsy flirtation. It’s still interesting how this interpersonal mystery between the characters ties into solving the Buffalo Bill murders.

Would Dr. Lecter Kill Clarice?

I only vaguely remember the first time watching The Silence of the Lambs. However, I’m pretty sure I never assumed he planned to kill Starling by the movie’s end. Yes, he plans to make Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) into a special project, but there’s every reason to assume Dr. Lecter’s honest about not making her life a living hell. Quite simply, he likes her too much. It’s hard to say exactly why, but it doesn’t seem to be merely because he’s attracted to her, but he seems to respect her dedication.

Let’s face it, he also has the ability to pick and choose victims based on his own calculations, be they plain or esoteric to our own understandings. Although he is cold and calculating, he also seems capable of grasping things like empathy, at least intellectually. Thomas Harris-based films often play with this idea about killers being complex and evolving. As another example, Red Dragon‘s “Tooth Fairy” killer decides to torch his house to fake his own death (and ostensibly eliminate some evidence of his crimes).

In the end, all movies can be interpreted in any way we choose, with some ways being more plausible than others. In the universe firmly established in The Silence of the Lambs, it seems Clarice would have the luxury of safety from dying at his hands (or teeth). FBI Agent Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) and Dr. Chilton are not wrong to call Lecter deadly, and that’s part of why his story has branched out well past 1991, and he has become one of the more complex horror icons out there.

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Movies n TV

1971’s ‘The Corpse Grinders’ is purrrfect

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Have you ever wanted a movie from the 70’s where a woman gets home from work, strips down to lingerie to lounge on her couch, only to be killed and eaten by her cat?

a cat eating a lady in a bra and holding beer

Of course, you’re a regular human, just like the rest of us. Who doesn’t fantasize about that?

Well, kids, I found us that perfect movie in the salacious and groovy Arch Hall Sr. film, THE CORPSE GRINDERS.

The Plot of The Corpse Grinders:

Corruption! Capitalism! Murder! Fake-ass sign language! Cats! This movie has IT ALL.

To cut costs on production, The Lotus Cat Food Company decides they can find cheaper meat alternatives in the Soylent Green variety. Which, to be fair, is a step up from Taco Bell, amirite?

Partnering with a couple who owns a cemetery, they begin grinding up the mystery meat and sell it to unsuspecting consumers. But the consumers begin to be consumed themselves (that’s my best joke of the year, you’re welcome), a veterinarian begins to investigate the reason why our feline friends have turned feral.

Can this nefarious plot be found out in time by investigators? And by “investigators”, I mean, literally just this veterinarian and some nurse. Or will they too become victims in the feeding frenzy?

a hungry kitty with blood on face

Thoughts on The Corpse Grinders:

This was only written by Arch Hall Sr. and not directed, but honestly, for being a low-budget comedy-horror, it cements him as a cult classic icon. Probably known most for Eegah, of MST3K infamy, he wrote and directed many camp movies during the 60’s and 70’s. Usually to showcase his son’s, er…talents.

But he legitimately had some fun ideas and execution, especially when someone else was in the director’s chair. THE CORPSE GRINDERS is fun and exciting schlock, a feast for the eyes in its limited cinematography, acting, and lighting.

And call this a hot take, but I think THE CORPSE GRINDERS would have made a better edition to MST3K than Eegah did because it works so incredibly well as campy horror. There’s a lot of honest humor in it, but metric tons of things to poke fun of and riff.

Brainroll Juice:

So, I have two brainrolls.

First, give me the rights. Gimme. Because this movie is RIPE for a reboot. Yes, that’s right. Not Pinhead, not Chucky, not gay icon Chucky – no! Corpse Grinders is a perfect example of something with enough cheese, enough spark, and enough of a story that still gels. With the right writers, director and cinematographer, this could really be a great reboot.

brannyk with a reboot sign

And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – reboot movies like THIS. Old, beat-up movies with enough spit and polish to be fun and enjoyable. Something you could add to with more budget, technology and direction. Stop, please, stop making ‘I Spit on Your Grave’ part 24. It’s done, it’s old, lie those types to rest and focus on movies that kind of sucked but would be phenomenal after time has passed.

The second is, um…American Sign Language (?) in the film. Which, okay, I’m a million percent with having those with disabilities shown on screen. I love it. Gimme 2.0. But…But why this, specifically?

We have a side character who is Deaf, but…um…the ASL is, well…

very fake American Sign Language

Remember that séance scene from Wild World of Batwoman? Yeah. It’s on par with that.

In MY new Corpse Grinders, she’s going to have a much wider role and actually be a Deaf actress and not…whatever that was. Because you took a cool idea and made it incredibly offensive. So, six of one and half-dozen of the other.

Bottomline:

If you love campy fun movies about cats eating people and-…

Jellybeans?

Jellybeans the cat looks mad

Jellybeans, what are you doing?

OMG Jellybeans has a knife!

Noooo!!! Jellybeansss!!!

Jellbeans is killing me aaahhhh Oh No!

Whyyy?!?! Ahhhh!!!!

Brannyk is being eaten

helloo itsme branyl i wriet horro movis nd not a jellllllybens cAt. can i haz humnbrger?

absolutely not a picture of jellbeans with a bloody knife
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

February Titles for Arrow Streaming

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Wow, January sure flew by fast! But guess what? It’s time to see what goodies Arrow is bringing to the small screen soon. Let’s find out!

Basically a picture of everything I talk about down below.

Feb 3rd: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA

February 3 Joyce documentaries about the American indie film scene: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA (both US/UK/CA/IRE). Joyce’s documentary profile of Altman, originally produced in 1996 includes contributions from Altman, Elliott Gould, Shelley Duvall, assistant director Alan Rudolph and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury. 

Feb 3rd: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster

February 3: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster (UK/IRE/US/CA). Triple-threat writer-producer-director Charles Band has been pulling the strings making horror, sci-fi and fantasy features since the 70s and his films were a massive part of making the 1980s home video boom, well, boom.

Charles Band: The Puppetmaster brings together many of his wildest and most fun work, from murderous pint-sized puppets to re-animated horrors, from time-travelling Trancers to a terrifying Tourist Trap, and even the re-tooled Doctor Strange movie starring Jeffrey Combs as a slightly different sorcerer supreme. And I LOVE Jeffrey Combs!

Titles Include: Puppet Master, Doctor Mordrid, Trancers.

Feb 6: Killer Tech

February 6, while shopping for a gadget for your sweetheart, ARROW uploads Killer Tech (UK/IRE/US/CA) to the service.

We all want the latest gadgets, but in Killer Tech screen time means scream time.

From cursed videotapes and phone calls to the dangers of the dark web and vicious virtual reality, ARROW’s newest, smallest, lightest, fastest, most expensive curated collection doesn’t just have the best screen, largest amount of storage and the coolest camera – it also comes with a guarantee that the newest tech equals instant death.

Titles Include: .com For Murder, Laguna Ave, Edge of the Axe.

I recommend Edge of the Axe!

Feb 10: Cinematic Void Selects

 February 10, ARROW hands the keys to the kingdom to Cinematic Void, a Los Angeles-based cult film screening series into the mouth of cinemadness. Focusing on all oddball gems of all genres, the Void unleashes an onslaught of horror, eurotrash, exploitation and gonzo action on the silver screen at the American Cinematheque. CV film programmer Jim Branscome has selected a few of his favourite films of the genre for your viewing pleasure in Cinematic Void Selects.

Titles Include: Deadly Games, Deep Red.

Feb 14:

February 14 celebrates Valentine’s Day with the perfect pairing: the undead and the living dead.

Two Orphan Vampires (UK/IRE/US): A pair of teenage girls, who are blind by day, but when the sun goes down, they roam the streets to quench their thirst for blood.

Zombie Lake (UK/IRE/US): In a small village, somewhere in France, German soldiers, killed and thrown into the lake by the Resistance during WWII, come back.

Also Valentine’s Day:

Jean Rollin: The Fantastique Collection Part IV (UK/IRE/US).

Led by the brand new and exclusive documentary from filmmakers Kat Ellinger and Dima Ballin, Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World Of Jean Rollin, welcome to ARROW’s final volume of horrifying dream-like sauce from the master of conjuring up erotic nightmare fuel, Jean Rollin, The Fantastique Collection Part IV.

Titles Include: The Living Dead Girl, Lost in New York, Dracula’s Fiancee.

Feb 17: The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol

February 17, with The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol (UK/IRE/US).

For five decades Claude Chabrol navigated the unpredictable waters of cinema, leaving in his wake more than fifty feature films that remain among the most quietly devastating genre movies ever made. Sardonic, provocative, and unsettling, Chabrol’s films cut to the quick with a clarity and honesty honed to razor sharpness.

Though influenced by Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir, Chabrol’s voice was entirely and assuredly his own, influencing in turn filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho, James Gray and Dominik Moll. His amused, unblinkered view of life and refusal to judge his characters makes his films timelessly relevant and accessible to all.

Dark, witty, ruthless, mischievous: if you’ve never seen Chabrol before, you’re in for a treat.

Titles Include: Cop au vin, Madame Bovary (1991), The Swindle.

Feb 24: King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection

February 24 hits it off with King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection (UK/IRE/US/CA).

Put up your dukes and prepare yourselves for brutal and lightning-fast martial arts action starring the King of Karate: Sonny Chiba.

Whether you’ve only heard of Sonny through Clarence and Alabama’s True Romance triple-bill, have seen him sword-making for The Bride in Kill Bill, or know Shinichi Chiba from way back in the 70s martial arts boom where his lethal mastery of karate, judo and kenpo made him an in-demand anti-hero to legions of fans, there’s plenty of bruising bad-assery to be had in King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection.

Titles Include: The Street Fighter, Wolf Guy, Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Hiroshima Death Match.

Feb 28: Millionaires’ Express 

February 28 closes out the shortest month of the year with Millionaires’ Express (US/CA).

All aboard for the all-star action-packed adventure of a lifetime as martial arts maestro Sammo Hung (Heart of Dragon) brings East and West crashing spectacularly together in Millionaires’ Express!

Sammo himself plays Ching Fong-tin, a former outlaw with a wild scheme to make amends with the citizens of his struggling hometown of Hon Sui: explosively derail a brand new luxury express train en route from Shanghai so that its super-rich passengers will have no choice but to spend money in the town. He’s not the only one with eyes on the passengers’ deep pockets, however; a gang of ruthless bank-robbing bandits are on the way, looking for a priceless map being guarded by a trio of Japanese samurai. Bullets and fists will fill the air in equal measure, but will Hon Sui Town be left standing?

Jean Rollin Collection promotional. It's kinda trippy.

Head over to ARROW to start watching now.

Subscriptions are available for $6.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly. 

ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Samsung TVs, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.

ARROWEssentials curates collections based on genre, decades and themes; and ARROWStories takes a fresh look at the world of film and TV with exclusive documentaries, interviews and video essays diving deeper into the many curated seasons and titles on the platform for a richer and deeper viewing experience.

With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface, and an unparalleled roster of quality content from westerns to giallo to Asian cinema, trailers, Midnight Movies, filmmaker picks and much, much more, ARROW is the place to go for the very best in on-demand entertainment.

ARROW is also home to ARROW Stories – an ever-growing collection of interviews, trailers, documentaries and additional extras, both newly created exclusives for the service and from the company’s extensive archives. The service will be updated regularly with fresh content, new curation focuses and never-before-seen content, all selected by the ARROW team as well as the filmmakers themselves. With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface ARROW is the new alternative place to go for the very best in On-Demand entertainment.

Be on the look-out because in the coming months, ARROW will be adding Oscar-winning hits, European classics, Asian cinema masterworks, rediscovered Westerns, offbeat gems and much more as part of ARROW’s international strategy to support and celebrate the medium of film.

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Movies n TV

Dahmer, The Good Boy Box

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I think if it were possible to awkward someone to death, Dahmer never would have had to use any other weapon. Because if episode four is any indication, the man was a walking personification of awkwardness. 

Let’s discuss. 

We start this episode with Dahmer talking with the police detectives after his arrest. He doesn’t seem to have any issue laying everything out for them, starting with the murder of the hitchhiker from the last episode. He’s seeing a psychiatrist, which feels overdue. And the psychiatrist is bringing back some memories. Starting with his graduation from high school.

Still from Dahmer with Evan Peters.

A few days after graduation, Lionel Dahmer finally decides to look in on his family. He comes home to find no one but Jeff there, drunk and scribbling out the faces of his classmates from his yearbook. 

After taking some time to blame Joyce, Lionel sets himself to the task of fixing his son. He first sends Jeff to Ohio State. Within a semester, Jeff is expelled with a GPA of .45. So, Lionel sends him to the army. And for about a year, that seems to work out. Jeff goes through basic training and everything is fine. But then, he’s discharged. 

It’s not outright said in the show why Dahmer was discharged. He later tells a woman that it was because of his drinking. But he lies and gives half-truths to everyone without any remorse. So there’s no way of knowing. 

Finally, we pick back up where we left off a few episodes ago, with Jeff’s grandmother finding the stolen mannequin in his bed. She throws it away, and he starts to unravel.

He goes to a state fair and gets arrested for masturbating in public.

Evan Peters in Dahmer.

Honestly, there are a lot of masturbation scenes in this episode and the last. Probably more than we needed.

Every time Jeff seems to get some sort of handle on his life, he manages to mess it up. He loses jobs and starts drugging men at bars. Finally, he finds himself in bed with the body of a beautiful young man he brought home the night before. 

I liked this episode. It was a deeply disturbing portrait of a mentally ill young man trying and failing to get himself together. It’s easy to feel bad for Dahmer. To feel like there should have been a way to save him from himself.

And there should have been, to be clear. Dahmer was throwing up enough red flags early enough that someone should have been able to do something.

And yet, nobody did until seventeen men were dead. It does make you wonder if it would have gone on so long if Dahmer hadn’t preyed on gay men. If he hadn’t been a white man. And maybe it should make us wonder that.

I’m sure this point will be made clear to us as we watch the second half of the season.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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