Jason Cuthbert dives into the character of “Buffalo Bill” from 1991’s Silence of the Lambs.
Before director Jonathan Demme explored skin-crawling inhumanity with The Silence of the Lambs in 1991, the only other motion picture that could be placed in the horror genre that had been nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award was The Exorcist in 1973. But Demme’s serial killer nightmare written by screenwriter Ted Tally, adapted from Thomas Harris’ novel, remains the only horror show to take home the Best Picture Oscar, including four other figurines for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay).
Understandably, Jodie Foster’s FBI trainee Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins’ savvy savage Dr. Hannibal Lecter get the main attention, being the main characters and all. But the murderous misfit demeanor of Jame Gumb, even the spelling of his name “James” is off, by Ted Levine (Heat, Shutter Island) is one cold-blooded performance.
Jame Gumb’s methods of prey make him a particularly disturbing antagonist, known as “Buffalo Bill” for his skin-removing treatment of overweight women as if they were cattle. Kidnapping plump ladies after pretending to be injured and in need of assistance is already a terrifying thought – turning sympathy into torture. But his modus operandi jumps even higher off of the roof of insanity when we learn that his chopping off of female body fat is not a demented protest against obesity, but his means of creating a female skin suit to hide his manhood.
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