The Silence Of The Lamb Essay, Research Paper
Slasher movies follow a certain pattern. In a horror picture there is the killer of course but there are also other factors that are consistent. For instance, the use of weapon is significant. The weapon of choice is mostly one that allows “intimacy” such as a blade or saw where the killer has to be in a very close proximity to the victim. Then there is always that terrible place in which something bad has happened to the attacker. This place is known to those of the movie to be avoided like a plague. The victim of choice is always a young, sexy, sometimes blond, bombshell which who has enough brains as a pea. And then there is the final girl who is able to survive the killer and saves the day.
Though horrific, The Silence of the Lamb defies some of the usual patterns of a horror/slasher movie. The only similarity is the monster, here being Buffalo Bill. Buffalo Bill faces gender confusion just as Norman Bates did in Psycho, but Bill’s confusion was trying to decipher his gender. Buffalo Bill’s character was one of self-loathing, woman hating, and homosexual portrayal. Bill had been turned down by clinics to perform a sex change but in his mind, he forced himself to believe he was a woman. It can be seen that his disappointment of not being able transformed into the lady he pictured in his mind, led him to his killing spree. Bill led authorities on a chase leaving his skinned victims as clues. The difference in this movie, compared to others, is the victims.
The usual victims are lusty and sexy young women. However, Bill has a slightly different taste when it comes to his selection. The dead in Silence are not the usual objects of sexual desire. They are young, yes, but they are of the heavy-set type. His selected victims were full-figured and roomy in the hips and a selection all for good reason. Because he covets their identity and not their sexuality he chooses these types of women. Buffalo Bills wants skin, and to get an abundant about these unfortunate women were selected. For the viewer, one change from the norm is that the actual killing is not shown in the movie. Instead the only thing that is shown is the results Bill’s butchery.
Typically, the menace in a movie is seen brandishing some sort of weaponry such as a knife or saw. In Silence, the weapon of choice by Bill is not shown, although the viewer can draw the implication that it is a knife. The character of Bill and that that surrounds him is quite unique. The terrible place we are taken to by Bill is not your usual haunted house that the local kids dare to step foot on, instead the focus in on his basement. Contrasting other movies where the character “asked” to be killed by willfully venturing into the forbidden house, Buffalo Bill’s victims are taken to the terrible place. Some do not even make it to this place however.
The final girl is the one who out-wits the killer, though may exhibit a tad of stupidity as the victim(s). Her survival tactics comprise of the hit and run and the hope that she is saved by the intervention of the heroic male. At a glance the viewer may be led to believe that Special Agent Starling is the “it” girl in this movie. She deals with Hannibal the cannibal, has to prove her worthiness to her male superiors and ultimately kill Mr. Buffalo but she is not the final girl thought. Recall the Senator’s daughter, Katherine Martin, who’s one of Bill’s victims. Katherine is the final girl because she is one who is in imminent danger of Bill. She also has to endure the cruel treatment of starvation and being cold from Bill. Katherine proved to be a fighter because she never gave up when captured. She pleaded and toyed with Bill by offering him ransom money and even going as far as to “kidnap” the only thing Bill seemed to care for, his dog. Luckily for her she was in the starvation period Bill puts his victims in before he does the final job as was saved through the intervention of Clarice. Clarice intervening also showed a difference in this film because a man mostly, if not always, does the intervening.
The Silence of the Lamb posed to be one of the greatest movies of all times. Though it broke some of the habits of a typical slasher movie it, however, cast a negative shadow on the gay community by buying into the homosexual stereotypes. The release of this movie came at the time when gays where now starting to may a little progress in society. The portrayal of Bill as a self and woman loathing homosexual heightened the stereotype that gay men were like that and went around, not killing women, but molesting young boys. Stereotypes are useful to drive the plot in a movie, i.e. the big-breasted, dumb, blond who easily gets killed, but when it becomes habitual it can be potentially harmful to society. Writers and directors should not sacrifice political correctness for a good plot.