The all-time suspense classic The Silence of the Lambs debuted in theaters on February 14, 1991. Please note the date. Talk about a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre!
Director Jonathan Demme’s big-screen adaptation of Thomas Harris’s acclaimed 1988 novel terrified audiences who turned it into a phenomenon, and transformed the careers of stars Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins as instantly iconic cannibal anti-hero Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
As a blood-red love letter to Silence of the Lambs’ quarter-century anniversary upon the coming of Cupid this year, here are 25 reasons why it’s the perfect Valentine’s Day movie.
1. It’s fun to cuddle while you’re being scared senseless (and, hopefully, panstless!).
2. Lambs are so cute.
4. Nothing’s hotter than a confident, kickass, and still fully realized woman. Jodie Foster’s performance as Agent Clarice Sterling proved revolutionary for women’s roles—both on screen and off.
5. Many movie relationships are romantic, but none is nearly as, let’s say, intense as what goes on between Agent Starling and Dr. Lecter.
6. Clarice and Hannibal’s “quid pro quo” understanding is an excellent model of an equal partnership.
7. When it comes to Valentine’s Day, emphasize “quality” over “quantity.” Point out, for example how Clarice and Hannibal’s scenes together are among the most memorable in all of cinema—but they only meet four times.
8. Fresh meat “with fava beans and a nice chianti” sounds like a perfect entrée for a romantic dinner.
9. Hannibal’s confession of what he desires in life—“a window where I can see a tree, or even water”—is uniquely sensual.
10. What’s Valentine’s Day without somebody rubbing lotion on somebody’s skin?
11. Serial killer Jame Gumb aka “Buffalo Bill” (Ted Levine) shows off the best dance moves. See if you and your date can keep up!
12. The dark-wave synth-pop tune to which Buffalo Bill tucks and boogies is “Goodbye Horses” by Q Lazarus. In itself, the song can be quite the lovemaking soundtrack.
13. See if SOTL’s instrumental score, written and conducted by master composer Howard Shore, can’t also turn you on. Try starting with “The Abduction.”
14. Given his mastery with masks, cages, and handcuffs, Hannibal is clearly of the Fifty Shades of Grey school (except he always turns it into Fifty Shades of Red).
15. Years before everybody was making night vision sex tapes, SOTL pioneered the heavy breathing technology.
16. Provocative talk can sometimes be as simple as, “Love your suit!”
17. Anthony Hopkins said the voice he used as Hannibal was “a combination of Truman Capote and Katharine Hepburn.” There’s a love match!
18. After you finish watching Silence, you can keep the Valentine’s viewing party going with the movie’s big-screen follow-ups: Hannibal (2001), Red Dragon (2002), and Hannibal Rising (2007).
19. If you really get hunkered down (V-Day tends to coincide with snowstorms in many ares), you can curl up together and watch all three seasons of the Hannibal TV series.
20. One way to really impress your date is to point out that, technically, Silence of the Lambs is a sequel. It’s a follow-up to Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986), in which Brian Cox portrays “Hannibal the Cannibal.”
21. After you’ve been scared silly by SOTL, you can laugh yourself silly with the all-singing, all-dancing comedy adaptation, Silence! The Musical.
22. The public has had a passionate affair with SOTL since their very first Valentine’s Day together. Moviegoers gushed love for Hannibal, et al in the face of some heavy condemnation. At the time, movie reviewers often praised some aspects of the production, but bemoaned the movie’s gruesomeness. Among the most vocal critics who took issue with Silence’s brutality was Gene Siskel. Still, moviegoers’ undying affection made the film a classic.
23. SOTL’s poster features a winged insect with a marking on its back that, at first, appears to be a human skull. Upon closer inspection, though, the skull is actually an optical illusion based on a Salvador Dali-designed photograph, “In Voluptas Mors.” In English, that means “Pleasure in the Death.” The image actually consists of seven naked female models, intertwined to resemble a skull. That is kinky!
24. Winners are sexy. Silence swept the Academy Awards, taking home Oscars for Best Actress (Jodie Foster), Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally), and, of course, Best Picture.
25. SOTL’s classic final scene [SPOILER ALERT] demonstrates how nice it is for partners to keep in touch while they’re separated—as well as the simple pleasure of “having an old friend for dinner.”