The Silence of the Lambs at 30: An unsettling horror that’s still utterly terrifying

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“Have the lambs stopped screaming, Clarice?” Hannibal Lecter (played exquisitely by Anthony Hopkins) asks Clarice Starling (the excellent Jodie Foster) during The Silence of the Lambs. There are few lines in cinema as iconic, and for good reason – it’s unsettling, creepy, and sticks with you long after the credits have rolled. Even now, 30 years after the movie’s release, it’s utterly terrifying.

Horror is a genre that ages quickly. A lot of older movies just aren’t as scary as they were compared to when they were first released. The Silence of the Lambs, though, has that same thrill factor while also being severely dated in other ways. Released on Valentine’s Day in 1991, the movie – which sees the ambitious young FBI employee Clarice work with the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal to track down the serial killer Jame Gumb, AKA Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) – is the only horror movie to win Best Picture at the Oscars, with Foster and Hopkins winning Best Actress and Best Actor at the same ceremony. It was lauded at the time and remains popular now, with a sequel series centered on Clarice currently airing. 

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