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Just as the Chianti jokes have died down, and the ominous slurping sounds friends repeatedly left on your answering machines have ceased, the amiable doctor returns. And what extremely patient little human appetizers we all have been, awaiting to see what Herr Doctor Hannibal Lecter would serve up for us in his Silence of the Lambs sequel...

Hannibal doesn't disappoint. I know people are already whining it's not as scary as the first...well, that's true. How could it be? Partly because we already know what's in store for us with the intellectual ripper. And partly because we are so desensitized to the whole genre these days...But, I assure you several scenes in this deliciously tasty horror will have you squirming in your seat and covering your eyes in the armpit of your companion for fear of "seeing to much."

Blunt Hint: Be sure to pack your MPB (Movie Puke Bag) for the final scenes—you're gonna need it!

Hannibal's story goes...Clarice (Julianne "I saw Ralph Fiennes naked--I really did!" Moore) has heard from Hannibal, again. He's sending little notes- just to say "told you so" Seems Clarice has had a bit of trouble in her post at the FBI and she's about to be served up to the press as a sacrificial lamb if you will... Hanny just wants her to know he's there for her.

Clarice's slithering boss Paul (Ray "I don't wanna freakin' talk about GoodFellas Okay!!!" Liotta) Krendler is incahoots with someone hell bent on "getting" to Clarice. Get Clarice, get Hannibal...

At least that's what Paul's evil puppeteer, Mason ( Gary "as sicko as ever" Oldman) Verger reckons. Mason's setting an elaborate trap for poor totally suspecting Hannibal.

Mason was Hannibal's fourth victim and only survivor...Of course survivor is a strong word. Mason is too vile a human to feel an ounce of semi-bad for . He's a raping pedophile Hannibal had been court appointed to. Hanny was actually doing the world a favor -attempting- to rid the earth of this heinous man. But he failed, and it's now Mason's life mission to hunt down Lecter at any cost and produce a human haggis (of sorts) from the man. And Hannibal's the deranged one...

This Mason guy oozes with a particularly strong scent of Eau de Creepay folks! Think, quintessential Boogie Man. Sleeping is going to be tough this week.

What's this Mason ? Hannibal has been found? Thanks to his peculiar tastes in hand creme? In Florence? A semi-crooked cop Pazzi (Italian favorite Giancarlo Giannini) has managed to parlay a true matching (17 points) finger print off the old boy and tip of the angry fetus faced victim.

You wanna take on Hannibal do you Mason? Okeedoekee, he's coming out of hibernation.

Ah, but just who's hunting whom? Hmm? And dear Clarice has always held a very special part of Hannibal's heart...Will he come to rescue her from her awful ongoing scandal? Mmm, could be.

Having read the book, I will say, I found the David Mamet script's ending much better. An ending you'll have to see for yourself.

Ray Liotta, who is looking extremely handsome these days, plays the sexist Paul Krendler, crooked FBI guy, purrfectly. His final scenes will go down in the history books of horror as some of the most repulsive special effects frames ever preserved onto film— too bold a statement— see Hannibal and get back to me... Since the "work" on Ray's face he's become a a double order of properly seasoned manbeef. Scrumptious!

Gary Oldman is barely recognizable here. Argh. But, even under all his makeup the actor shines through. Gar's done some fascinating— albeit whacko —work. If, for some ungodly reason, you're not familiar with him go here, rent Sid and Nancy and then peruse from there — a must see actor...Enjoy.

Julianne Moore did an admirable job in the shoes of Clarice. She had that same gollygee- I'm an officer- and just gonna go by the book sir- at what ever cost, attitude Jodi Foster brought to the original role. Her accent wasn't as Holly Hunter annoying either. Admittedly the new Clarice was disturbing for the beginning of the film, in a switching of the Bewitched Darrin's way— you know that unsettling feeling one gets when a major character in the story is suddenly not the same— except no one in the story seems to notice? Of course we were all ready for this rude switch-a-roo as the press made such a stinkfest over Foster poo-pooeing a reprise of her role. Julianne did just fine. Check out End of the Affair for more Julianne in action-and of course Ralph Fiennes' naked.

Finally there's our scene and liver stealer, Hannibal...The Sir Anthony Hopkins. There are a handful of sexy older actors...Tommy Lee Jones, Sean Connery, Jack Nicolson, Brian Dennehy and Mr Hopkins. With Hopkins it's all in his brilliant eyes. Though he's probably best known as Hannibal, Hopkins is a consummate actor as comfortable in the role of the human steak connoisseur madman, as playing a writer destined to pen a child's classic (C.S. Lewis) or beneath some make-up in a quality version of Quasimodo. Versatility and talent wrapped in a nice sturdy package of manyum.

Okeedokee. Get out and see this. Hannibal is one crispy kidney of a sequel with some tasty morbid bits to keep you engrossed in epicurean conversation for months to come. The way a real horror movie should!

Snack Recommendation: Braised Bolognese Belly, Ray Style Sweetbreads, of course, chilled Chianti served in crystal flutes.

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and Giancarlo Giannini

Directed by: Ridley (Glad he ate her) Scott
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