Hannibal Lecter's character represents the continuation of a long-line of homicidal psychopathic serial killers portrayed in film. Perhaps the earliest to portray a serial killer was Fritz Lang's 1931 film "M," which featured a young Peter Lorre as a child murderer. After a lengthy hiatus, Alfred Hitchcock revived the genre with his experimental 1960 blockbuster "Psycho" starring Anthony Perkins, which was based loosely on the murders committed by psychopath Ed Gein.
The film-going public continues to be morbidly fascinated with serial killers as arch-villains, and Hollywood and TV producers continue to milk the subject. Popular films within the genre include "Dirty Harry," "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," the various "Halloween" and "Scream" films, "Copycat," and numerous others. Popular TV series such as Kolchak, The X-files, and Millennium often featured serial killers.