Wolfman – baah, so-so. There’s plenty of spooky mist rolling in over wild and woolly moors, lots of flickering candles at night, lots of swoopy Victorian costumes, there’s even a troop of gor-blimey-guvner Gypseys. Blah blah blah. Reminded me of that other corker: Van Helsing. If anyone gets the kudos for this howler, it’s the editor. The cuts come quick and fast. (Actually, the cuts come in more ways than one; boy, it’s bloody.)

Basically though, I couldn’t get beyond Benicio del Toro as a British aristocrat; although they do try to explain him away, he still comes across as a pug-faced thug from South Central LA, with about as much class as a turned jug of jellied eels. And is he sleepwalking throughout??

The major architectural site is played by Chatsworth House, made suitably crusty with a coating of dead ivy. The unbelievably picturesque village is an actual place too; Lacock in Wilshire. Managed by the National Trust, it’s recently appeared on the small screen in the BBC’s Larkrise to Candleford.


There was so much hype and so many expectations raised before the launch of Ridley Scott’s Hannibal movie back in 2001, that at the time, it probably couldn’t have failed to disappoint. I don’t remember enjoying it greatly back then, but I watched it again last night, and I have to say, I got much more out of it, this time around.

The ghoulish Dr. Lecter has temporarily reinvented himself as Renaissance historian Dr. Fell, and is living in quiet disguise in Florence. Clarice Starling, now a decade on into her FBI career (and morphed from Jodie Foster into the excellent Julianne Moore) is once again put on his trail. But she’s not alone in this; Mason Verger, a fabulously wealthy creep who’d been disfigured during a previous run in with Lecter, is also tracking him down and plotting his revenge. When Clarice is publically disgraced, Lecter (who sniffs out weakness from a distance like sharks smell blood) comes back to America to taunt her, where he’s trapped in Verger’s dastardly web.

The thing that struck me with yesterday’s re-viewing of the film is that it is sumptuously shot, with imposing locations that are beautifully lit. It’s pure Ridley Scott. With complex locations from Florence, to D.C to Richmond, Virginia, producer Martha De Laurentiis is on record saying that with almost a hundred locations, it was a

 “constant pain of moving and dressing sets. But the locations were beautiful. Who could complain about being allowed to shoot in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence? Or President James Madison’s farm in Montpelier or the amazing Biltmore Estate in Asheville?”

Certainly, Firenze hasn’t looked so beautiful – nor indeed so chaotic or deadly – since the stabbing scene in A Room with a View. But the other standout location is the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. In reality it’s 16300 square metres of the largest private home in North America. Set on 32 square kilometres of farm and parkland it was built by George Washington Vanderbilt between 1888 and 1895 to replicate the great chateaux of the Loire valley. The Biltmore Estate was (astoundingly) built as a summer house for occasional use. It was of course chosen by Scott to represent the immense wealth of the hideous Mason Verger.

The question remains though, whether Mason is indeed a worse fiend than a previous cinematic resident of Biltmore: the odious Ritchie Rich.