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A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.



(novel), (earlier screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1,084 ( 22)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Juliette Lewis ...
Zully Montero ...
Craig Henne ...
Forest Burton ...
Edgar Allan Poe IV ...


Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte)is a small-town corporate attorney/"Leave It to Beaver" type family-man. Max Cady (Robert De Niro) is a tattooed, cigar-smoking, bible-quoting, rapist. What do they have in common? Fourteen years, ago Sam was a public defender assigned to Max Cady's rape trial, and he made a serious error: he hid a document from his illiterate client that could have gotten him acquitted. Now, the cagey, bibliophile Cady has been released, and he intends to teach Sam Bowden and his family a thing or two about loss. Written by James Craver

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There is nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light. Except fear. See more »


Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 November 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cabo de miedo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)


$79,100,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Originally in the scene where Cady puts handcuffs on Lori, she was supposed to start freaking out, Illeana Douglas was the one who came up with the idea of having her character laughing and trying to play along instead. See more »


The detective's blood pool changes shape on the kitchen floor. See more »


[first lines]
Danielle: My reminiscence. I always thought that for such a lovely river the name is mystifying: "Cape Fear". When the only thing to fear on those enchanted summer nights was that the magic would end and real life would come crashing in.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Later half of the credits are played to the sound of nighttime crickets. See more »


Spoofed in The Ben Stiller Show: Pilot (1992) See more »


Written by Alice Byrd
Performed by Henry 'Professor Longhair' Byrd (as Professor Longhair)
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Not in his (Scorsese's) best, but definately has it's moments of glory
24 March 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Martin Scorsese takes his first whack at the horror/thriller genre with a remake of the 1962 classic of the same title. While I can not truthfully say the original was better due to the fact that I never saw the original, I have a feeling that Scorsese has brought his maestro touch to the film that changes it slightly from the original to make it better, because this is quite the suspenser.

Here, a very dangerous and evil man named Max Cady (played in one of the best villain roles of the 90's by Robert De Niro) gets out of jail after 14 years of imprisonment, and decides to get vengeance on the lawyer (Nick Nolte) and his family (Jessica Lange the mother and a young and supple Juliette Lewis as the daughter). At times the film is surprisingly slow, but the film is never boring, and suspense is always in the air; the climax/ending contains some of Scorsese and De Niro's finest work. Also, De Niro steals the show as the animal Cady by making the person who is supposed to be the hero into a flawed character, thereby turning the film almost into a Film-noir, which is quite a feat for Scorsese and company. Not perfect, but it shouldn't be. Those are Scorsese's parents briefly buying fruit. A-

31 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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