"Well... here I... am."
— The Tooth Fairy
The first Film of the Book
of the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon
, this 1986 film features Hannibal Lektor (note the spelling) as played by Brian Cox
. Like in Silence of the Lambs
, he is used to help an FBI investigator. His name is Will Graham and he is trying to find a serial killer known as Francis Dollarhyde, nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy". As he tries to find the serial killer, Graham's personal demons start to haunt him, affecting his work and his relationships.
A box office flop on release, despite critical approval. It has become a Cult Classic
for many Hannibal fans. The lead investigator is played by William Petersen, feeling at times like an extended audition for his CSI
The film relied on heavily-tinted scenes and overpowering music. The use of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"
is very unsettling to anyone who has not seen its use in The Simpsons
("Remember when we used to make out to this hymn?"), and the look of the film is very much The Eighties
as Red Dragon
, this time featuring Anthony Hopkins as Lecter.
Not to be confused with Sierra
's series of adventure games with the same name
, or the comic
of the same name.
This movie contains examples of:
- Art Imitates Art: After Graham fills Dollarhyde full of lead, Dollarhyde falls down on his back. A camera shot from above shows the blood pooling out from Dollarhyde in a symmetrical winged shape that looks just like the Red Dragon from William Blake's painting.
- Bald of Evil: Francis Dollarhyde, the Tooth Fairy, is balding in this movie, mostly because his actor is.
- Berserk Button: Graham doesn't like it when people bring up his past experience with Lecktor, especially when the one bringing it up is the same tabloid reporter who took advantage of said experience to sell newspapers.
- Blind and the Beast: Dollaryhde starts dating a blind woman halfway through the movie. This is partly because of his implicit insecurities about his cleft palate (much more explicit in the novel and 2002 movie); he thinks he is ugly, and doesn't believe he'd stand a chance with someone who could actually see him. This, in fact, is one of the reasons he kills- dead women don't think he is ugly.
- Significantly, Dollarhyde stops Reba when she tries to touch his face.
- Central Theme: The entire film is about vision and color. For example, notice the background colors of the opening credits, saturated and overexposed. Lektor's prison is completely white, which has a negative psychological effect on Will (who calms down when staring at the green grass.) Of course, Dolarhyde's job is color correction.
- Consulting a Convicted Killer: Graham seeks help from Hannibal Lecktor in order to gain better insight in finding the Tooth Fairy.
- Cursed with Awesome: Graham's ability to get inside the heads of the killers he tracks makes him good at his job, but puts serious stress on his own sanity at the same time.
- Demoted to Extra: Frustrated with Graham's mental state, his wife decides to spend time away. In the novel, she returns and it is she, not her husband or the cops, who kills Dolarhyde in the climax.
- Disabled Love Interest: Reba, Dollarhyde's blind coworker, happens to mention that she always wished she could have "seen" a Bengal tiger (by touching it). Dolarhyde knows someone at a zoo where they happen to have a tiger having dental work under anesthesia. After Reba gets to touch this tiger all over, she goes home with him and engages in very vigorous woman-on-top sex with him.
- Eureka Moment: When Graham finally figures out how the Tooth Fairy chooses his victims.
Graham: And you know you need a bolt-cutter and every other Goddamn thing. Because everything with you is seeing, isn't it? Your primary sensory intake that makes your dream live is seeing. Reflections. Mirrors. Images. .... You've seen these films! Haven't you, my man?
- Evil is Hammy: Largely averted with Brian Cox's cold and understated portrayal of Lecktor (in contrast to Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs).
- Freudian Excuse: Deconstructed. During his Eureka Moment, Graham acknowledges that Dollarhyde must have been abused and states that he pities the child Dollarhyde used to be. However, in the same monologue, Graham states that he feels absolutely no sympathy for Dollarhyde as an adult and states that Dollarhyde is a selfish, utterly-disgusting human being who deserves to die violently.
- A God Am I: Lektor's justification of why he and any Serial Killer commits murder- it makes you feel like you are God. He tells Will to look forward to that feeling.
- Hannibal Lecture: The man himself gives one to Will over the phone, telling him that God Is Evil and Evil Is Cool, and that what bothered him about killing Garret Jacob Hobbes (the first Serial Killer Graham caught) was that he secretly enjoyed it.
- This particular Hannibal Lecture was repeated ad vertabim in Hannibal the series (it does not appear in the original novel), albeit in a very different context as in that case Graham had yet to realize that Lecter was a killer.
- In his first scene he gives Will a Not So Different speech; since this is the first Hannibal film and is taken directly from the novel (unlike the aforemention "killing is good" speech), this film features the original Hannibal Lecture.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The Movie. It's Will's defining trait.
- Jerkass: Brian Cox's take on Lecktor, in contrast to Hopkins's later, Affably Evil performance.
- Jerkass God: Lecktor insists this, along with A God Am I.
Lecktor: Did you really feel depressed after you shot Mr. Garrett Jacob Hobbes to death? l think you probably did. But it wasn't the act that got to you. Didn't you feel so bad, because killing him felt so good? And why shouldn't it feel good? It must feel good to God. He does it all the time. God's terrific! He dropped a church roof on 34 of his worshipers in Texas last Wednesday night, just as they were groveling through a hymn to his majesty. Don't you think that felt good?
Will: Why does it feel good, Dr. Lecktor?
- Locked into Strangeness: Graham's hair has some gray tinges, due to his experience with Lecktor.
- Mad Doctor: Lecktor is a world-famous psychiatrist who happens to be a convicted Serial Killer. He might be stuck in an insane asylum, but that doesn't stop him from writing for psychiatric journals.
- Man in White: Lecktor's prison clothes are all white, as is his cell and seemingly the whole mental facility.
- Manipulative Bastard: Lektor, sure, but Crawford uses a Batman Gambit to get Will to take on the case, and freely admits it when Will confronts him with it Lektor congratulates Will for setting Lounds up to be killed, and even though it wasn't Will's conscious intent, he wonders if he really plot Lounds' death subconsciously.
- Man on Fire: The ultimate fate of Freddy Lounds
- Mistaken for Cheating: Dollarhyde's fragile connection with sanity snaps when he misinterprets an innocent moment between Reba and her coworker as something intimate.
- Modesty Bedsheet: Graham's wife keeps the bedsheet wrapped around herself as she walks over to Graham, staring out the hotel room's window.
- Murderer P.O.V.: Used at the beginning when the Tooth Fairy enters the Leeds' house. Portions of the sequence are used again when Graham examines the crime scene for the first time; a visual representation of his ability to enter the minds of killers.
- No Periods, Period: Averted somewhat; although, if women in this world didn't menstruate, and we found a box of Maxi-Pads from a world where they did, we'd probably be inclined to assume they're some kind of stick-on blindfold, too.
- Not So Different: Lektor tells this to Graham. What's scary is that he seems to be right.
Lecktor: You want the scent? Smell yourself.
- One-Man Army: When the cops finally close in on Dolarhyde, he rather casually grabs Graham as he jumps at him, slashes him across the face, tosses him into a corner, and then grabs a shotgun. Using the latter, he then goes to town on the cops trying to stop him, killing several and ignoring at least one point-blank gunshot wound. He returns to kill Graham, only to go down after absorbing half-a-dozen explosive rounds.
- Paparazzi: Freddy Lounds, who's so sleazy he even broke into Graham's hospital room to take pictures of his injuries after his encounter with Lektor. Makes it hard to believe he didn't deserve the fate the Tooth Fairy gave him.
- Lektor in fact applauds Will for setting Freddy up like that. Will ponders if he set Freddy up, if subconsciously, as Lektor implies.
- The Profiler: Will Graham is the archetypal fictional profiler, the basis for a great deal such detectives who showed up in the media after this film came out, and the book based on it.
- Race Against the Clock: Since the Tooth Fairy operates on a lunar cycle, the FBI has until the next full moon to catch him before he kills again. They start out with two weeks, but end up taking it right down to the last minute before the killer claims another victim.
- Sanity Slippage: In the Back Story, Will suffered one after catching Lecktor, because of his To Know Him, I Must Become Him detective style, and was committed to an insane asylum.
- Serial Killer: Francis Dollarhyde, aka "The Tooth Fairy" or "The Red Dragon". Also, Dr. Lecktor.
- Shirtless Scene: Will Graham gets a few. Comes with living on a Florida beach.
- Soft Glass: Graham goes straight through a window at full gallop. He does get a couple of superficial cuts on his face.
- Spell My Name With A K: Lecktor?
- Sympathy for the Devil: Deconstructed in the uncut version.
Jack: You feel sorry for him.
Will: As a child, my heart bleeds for him. Someone took a little boy and turned him into a monster. But as an adult... as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to fulfill some sick fantasy. As an adult, I think someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks.
- To Know Him, I Must Become Him: Graham's method for profiling serial killers. Sometimes it works too well.
- Unintentional Period Piece: The soundtrack and fashions in the film permanently mark it as a product of The Eighties.