Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hannibal Rising

I have always been a fan of creepy things but only recently have been turned on formally to "Horror Fiction". Sure I read one or two Stephen King novels in my high school days, but it wasn't until last August when I spotted a issue of the literary magazine Cemetery Dance at a bookstore that I really discovered the horror genre. I read my first issue of CD in one sitting and I was hooked. Reading as much Jack Ketchum, Al Sarrantonio, Ramsey Campbell, etc. as I could. I also found a terrific podcast called Pod of Horror which features what's new in the genre, author interview and horror book reviews.
A few episodes ago, on Pod of Horror, fiction reviewer, Scott Bradley reviewed the book Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris. Harris introduced the serial killer Hannibal Lecter in his 1981 novel, Red Dragon. (The film adaptation of Red Dragon came out in '02). The sequel novel, Silence of the Lambs came out in 1988 and became hugely popular when the film, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins was released in 1991. I read Lambs when it first came out in the late 80s and couldn't put the book down. The film never lived up to the novel for me. In 1999 Harris published the sequel to Silence of the Lambs, simply titled, Hannibal. It was made into a film of the same name in 2001.
In December of 2006 Harris published the novel Hannibal Rising, which is essentially the "making of a serial killer"- the reason why Hannibal became a cannibal. Scott Bradley gave Hannibal Rising- the book- a horrible review and said that Harris seemed to have sold out, wrote the book just for the purpose of making money.
The movie, Hannibal Rising was released last month and after hearing the book review and seeing the movie reviews I had no strong desire to see the movie. Especially since I hadn't seen or heard anything about Lecter since watching Silence of the Lambs in the early 90s; however, Friday night found me with nothing to do and it was a warm night and the drive in was open, as usual so I went.
And I am really glad I did. This is not a slasher/jump-in-your-seat movie, but rather an interesting drama with a lot of suspence. We meet Hannibal Lecter at age 8. He and his family are hiding from the Nazis in the Luthianian country side. Hannibal witnesses the deaths of his parents and the death and devouring of his little sister at the hands of Lithuanian militiamen. Hannibal eventually is taken in at a Soviet orphange where he lives for eight years and eventually escapes, in search of remaning family members. He finds an aunt who teaches him the ways of the Japanese warriors and he sets out to avenge the cannibalistic death of his little sister. Hannibal tracks down the Lithuanian militiamen and makes quick work of them in very nasty ways.
There are a few plot holes and some scenes are a bit unbelievable, but overall this movie is worth the rent, even if you haven't seen all of the Hannibal films.

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