TajLV’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film #20 of 31 in my Hoop-Tober 2019 challenge
For this challenge, the first film of a franchise with six films (counting the TV series) is worth the sixth film in any other franchise, IMO. It's the neo-noir psychological horror forerunner to 1991's masterful "Silence of the Lambs," introducing the character known as Dr. Hannibal Lecktor, played here by Brian Cox, as directed by Michael Mann and based upon the 1981 novel "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris.
Criminal profiler Will Graham (William Petersen) left the FBI after suffering a mental breakdown related to his work. He now has a serene life, living with his wife Molly (Kim Greist) and son Kevin (David Seaman) at a large beachfront property in Captiva, Florida on the Gulf Coast. That's where his friend, FBI Special Agent Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina), approaches him to come back and help the agency with a serial murder case.
Nicknamed the "Tooth Fairy" by investigators, this killer murders whole families in their sleep. In Atlanta, Will visits the crime scene of the Leeds family. His walk-through uncovers fingerprints missed by the local police. But that may not be enough of a lead, so Will visits former psychiatrist Lecktor in prison to "recover the mindset" of an impassioned psychopath.
Later, Will's visit to Birmingham, Alabama, where the Jacobi family was murdered, is interrupted by an urgent call. It seems the Tooth Fairy aka Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan) made contact with Lecktor and he answered using a personal ad in the National Tattler, the same scandal rag that has hounded Will for years, with reporter Freddy Lounds (Stephen Lang) being his chief irritant. Look for Joan Allen as the blind photo technician Reba McClane, Paul Perri as psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Bloom and Benjamin Hendrickson as Dr. Frederick Chilton as the trail of clues leads on.
I understand this film did poorly at the box office and bombed with the critics before becoming a cult movie with fans. I really don't get the initial poor reactions. It's a very good film. And the soundtrack! Has anyone ever used Iron Butterfly's "In a Gadda Da Vida" better than this?
The film got Mann the Critics Award at the Cognac Festival du Film Policier and a nomination for Best Motion Picture at the Edgar Alan Poe Awards. It's a great one, IMO, and obviously the launch pad for the CSI TV series as well as a big step forward in forensics-based mysteries on screen. See it!