Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991) begins like a Gothic horror movie. With towering trees and a heaping dose of fog, Demme and cinematographer Tak Fujimoto convey a sense of haunting with their very first images. These touches evoke Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe films of the 1960s like House of Usher (1960) and The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) which were exaggerated and experimental but precise due to their small budgets. Demme got his start making films for Corman (who has a small role in the film) and he cut his teeth on those same small budgets and those lessons of precision. In the opening moments of The Silence of the Lambs a tone of almost mythological terror is suggested, but the hero is not a dashing prince of the sort found in fables or a senior investigator in the mold of Clint Eastwood...
See how the opening of 'The Silence of the Lambs' primes viewers for a dark odyssey
As a stripped-down version of the Twentieth Century Fox theme plays, a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show begins. “And God said, Let there be lips!” And there were lips: red lips, white teeth, black background. An androgynous voice sings “Science fiction, double feature.” Between verses, the lips freeze in black and white before fading into a cross above a church.
“They say if you want to tell a story right, you gotta start at the beginning,” chirps the titular heroine in the opening moments of Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.