crowds of admirers. At Bundy’s trial, female lot of newspapers. Increasingly a specialist Lecter’s quiet charm that horrifies. It is his groupies packed the courthouse to hear press has sprung up catering for a massive intelligence and sensitivity that truly terrify details of their idol’s crimes. In Britain, market demanding details of murder-hunts us, conditioned as we are to take our
while the motivation may be different, the from start to arrest, with full forensic details. maniacs straight, with no confusing mixers. public fascination remains. Moors Murderer The part-works walk off the newsagent It is in this respect that Silence Of The
Ian Brady, Denis Nielsen and Yorkshire shelves, free ring-binders and all. It’s not a ‘ Lambs and, to an extent, American Psycho
Ripper Peter Sutcliffe regularly receive a j new phenomenon. Victorian newspaper go beyond their status as up-market video
welter of mail, and occasional marriage boys screamed "Orrible murder’ to attract a nasties. Lecter and Bateman have their
proposals. As a hazard of urban civilisation. l crowd, quality newspapers do ‘serious I charms, they are perfectly socially
the serial killer has an aura about him that l analytical pieces’ as an excuse to print the acceptable, moving in the upper echelons of
even appeals to rock musicians yearning to 5 same explicit details as the sleazy tabloids, ' society, they do not have the tell-tale marks
sound dangerous, witness a plethora of hit and journalists pick out juicy quotes from of the monster on them for all to see. Nor did
singles from Talking Heads’ Psycho Killerto ‘ books to give a punchy introduction to their Ted Bundy, Henry Lee Lucas (who claimed
Thin Lizzy’s Killer On The Loose. articles. The criminals aren’t the only ones i 630 killings), Chris Hanson (a baker who Killer On The Loose is also, coincidentally, making a killing from serial murder. . killed 42 prostitutes), David Berkowitz,
the title of a hit cable TV show on the West I With serial killers part ofeveryday ? Peter Sutcliffe . . This trend (also
Coast ofthe USA. Purporting to be a public American society, it takes something exemplified by the forthcoming Henry:
interest programme trying to track down particularly terrifying to achieve the box Portrait OfA Serial Killer, a fly-on-the-wall
criminals, its audience figures suggest it ; office impact of The Silence Of The Lambs account of Lucas’s killings, with no
caters to rather more basic instincts than ’ which has already been seen by 20 million discernible moral standpoint) can be seen as
public-spiritedness. ‘Sure we give the grisly ; Americans. There are instances ofviewers a long-overdue recognition that the serial
details ofthe murders,’ admits producer demanding to be accompanied to their cars killer is running in the bloodstream (in more
Bob Leadon. ‘That’s the only way we can after screenings. It is Hopkins’ riveting ways than one) of American society rather
bring over the true horror ofthe crimes. But l performance as Lecter that is substantially - than being a malignant tumour that can be
we have to admit that there is a sick l responsible (Scottish actor Brian Cox played detached. Maybe that‘s why the folks were
fascination with gruesome slayings. That's Lecter to less-chilling effect in Manhunter so wary about leaving their cosy cinema
our society.’ which achieved little box-office success), but seats. Who knows what’s waiting for them The killers use the media to sell the disturbing nature of the film was due as out there in small-town USA?
themselves, and to get vital information . much to its plausibility as to any explicitness.
about their pursuers, and the media in turn Demme avoids gratuitous excesses ofgore,
have realised the selling power of the late ‘ and is at pains to point out that “this picture is ,
20th-century bogeyman. ’ clearly anti-violence. It’s not a movie that The Silence ofthe Lambs opens Friday
Attention-grabbing nicknames, pattern invites you to cheer at violence. It’s a movie
i killings at regular intervals, and the i that makes you dread violence and when it ‘ 7 June with previews on at June'
See ﬁlm section for review and cinema programme details.
indiscriminate choice of victims have tapped rears its ugly head, it wants you to confirm into a public fear and fascination that sells a
that violence is awful.’ Demme is right. It is
The List31May—13June 19917