The Silence Of The Hams marked a downward turn for parody movies. The Silence Of The Lambs wasn't Hannibal Lecter's first big-screen outing, with Brian Cox having played the character in Manhunter. Director Michael Mann's 1986 adaptation of Red Dragon has since become acclaimed as a taut, psychological thriller, but it was a box-office failure upon release.
The Silence Of The Lambs would make the character iconic, thanks in no small part to Anthony Hopkins' performance. Despite only having fifteen minutes of screentime, he so was captivating he won a Best Actor Oscar for his work. Hopkins would return for both Hannibal and a new adaptation of Red Dragon in 2002. After badly received prequel Hannibal Rising essentially killed the movie franchise, the character headed to the small screen for TV series Hannibal. The show cast Mads Mikkelsen as the title cannibal therapist, and it won acclaim for its great cast, beautiful art direction, and gruesome setpieces.
Like any horror character who becomes an icon, it didn't talk long for The Silence Of The Lambs parodies to arrive, including F. Murray Abraham's (Homeland) cameo as Dr. Harold Leacher in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1. The most prominent of these is The Silence Of The Hams from 1994, where a detective (Billy Zane) enlists the help of the imprisoned Dr. Animal Cannibal Pizza, played by Dom DeLuise (The Cannonball Run) to track down a serial killer.
The Silence Of The Hams director and star Ezio Greggio originally set out to make a spoof of Psycho thanks to his mild likeness to Anthony Perkins. Due to the success of Silence Of The Lambs, he had to incorporate elements from that film to get it financed. While the movie occasionally has a couple of fun gags and visual jokes - Joe Dee Fostar is the name of the main character - most of the humor is just tired and stale. The movie was already 30 years too late to be a Psycho parody, and it's pop culture references to other movies like Basic Instinct date it badly.
The Silence Of The Hams at least has committed performances, and a surprising amount of director cameos, including Mel Brooks, John Carpenter, and Joe Dante. Sadly, the whole setup just feels forced, and it marked a turning point for parody movies. Before it arrived, movies like Spaceballs and the Naked Gun series made it look easy, but The Silence Of The Hams' line-up of lazy references and goofy slapsticks led to Spy Hard, the Scary Movie series and Epic Movie.
That's not to say there aren't occasionally parody gems like Black Dynamite or Team America: World Peace, but the quality of the genre has taken a noticeable dive since its heyday. The Silence Of The Hams can't be blamed entirely for that, but it definitely didn't help either.