WHAT WITH THE rash of surfers and swimmers getting chomped by sharks and the charming guy planning to guillotine off his feet over the Internet, it's probably as good a time as any for the release of this quease-inducing disc. The bad guys' unhappy last dance with the wild pigs—plus learning about the gruesomely real special effects—and the mad guy's really unfortunate last meal sparkle in the crisp, vibrant DVD format.
But despite an advertising campaign promising an alternate ending, they didn't shoot Thomas Harris' original conclusion in which Clarice joins her nemesis in the sweetbread treat, then runs away with Dr. Lecter to live happily ever after in cannibal land. Instead, this coda is simply the original ending without the handcuffs and auto-amputation. As is so often the case, less gore didn't win. The other 35 minutes of deleted scenes bear out that motto, most set in photogenic Venice, some developing a subplot about a rival Italian serial killer. One long sequence introduces Lecter performing music composed by Anthony Hopkins himself, who proposed it open the film. Ridley Scott deftly deals with the issue in his director commentary: "It's very rich," he says. "We felt coldness was more appropriate."
Scott also discusses yet another ending that was never shot: From their boat, Lecter pulls handcuffed Clarice overboard, forcing her to produce the key to save herself. She does, and he drifts mysteriously away. (If only they'd thought to add a great white shark.)