Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Unrated   |    |  Biography, Crime, Drama


Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) Poster

Arriving in Chicago, Henry 'Michael Rooker, in what is undoubtedly the finest performance of his patchy career', moves in with ex-con acquaintance Otis and starts schooling him in the ways of the serial killer.


7/10
33,001

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User Reviews


4 April 1999 | bwaynef
8
| Is this a film to acclaim or condemn?
In 1960, Michael Powell committed professional suicide by directing and producing "Peeping Tom," a thriller in which a psychopathic murderer photographs his victims at the moment of death. Denounced as sick and without redeeming social value, "Peeping Tom" vanished from theaters, while its director, also denounced as sick, went on to make only two more films in the next eight years. Powell's film has gone on to attract an avid cult following and, if it hasn't done so already, so will "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer."

Loosely based on the real life exploits of Henry Lee Lucas, a leering, low IQ sicko who became a media star after claiming to have murdered several dozen people (some believe Henry was bragging), this film takes a gritty, realistic approach that creates the impression that we are watching real life unfold. Director John McNaughton exploits the discomfort the viewer is inclined to feel by presenting a scene in which Henry and his equally vicious former cellmate, Otis, videotape the rape and murder of one of their victims, then play it back for further amusement. This shocking episode effectively makes the point that those who seek second hand thrills through violent "entertainment" are almost as guilty as the perpetrators of such deeds. By casting anonymous non-stars in the leading roles (not that he had a choice considering the budget and the repellent subject matter), and focusing entirely on the exploits of the killers (there are no scenes of police investigating the crimes or peeks into the lives of the victims), McNaughton has created a brutal, amoral horror film that makes the bloodiest gorefest look benign. Although the real Henry was apprehended, his cinematic counterpart is never even suspected of his crimes, and gets off scot-free.

Is "Henry" a film to acclaim or condemn? It's a difficult question to answer, and I, for one cannot make a decision. It is so expertly made that I think McNaughton deserves a round of applause and maybe an Oscar. But, at the end of the video tape of the film that I watched, there was a commercial hawking "Henry" T-shirts ($14.98) and posters ($7.98). Both were available through "Henry Merchandising," and this attempt to turn this all too real murderer into a cult figure deserving of a fan club is despicable.

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Critic Reviews



Did You Know?

Trivia

A recent Huffington Post article mused on the darkly ambiguous ending where Henry drops off Becky's bloodied suitcase on the side of the road and then drives off. Michael Rooker was asked about it. "Oh that's Becky alright," said the actor, squelching any ambiguouity about the ending!


Quotes

TV Salesman: So what can I do for you, gentlemen?
Otis: Boy, it's hot in here. Isn't it?
TV Salesman: I'm kind of cold.
Otis: We want a TV.
TV Salesman: How much you got to spend?
Henry: What do you got?
Otis: Fifty bucks.
TV Salesman: I can let you have that set over there for fifty bucks.
Otis: Well, turn it on. We want to see if it ...
TV Salesman: ...


Goofs

(around 46 min.) When the high school kid gets into Otis' car to share a blunt, the operational camera crew is vaguely reflected on the car door as it swings open.


Crazy Credits

Special Thanks to: Tony the Cop James Marks Family The Edward Dedmond Family


Alternate Versions

In 1992, the uncut version was originally refused classification (RC) in Australia. To obtain an R rating, approx. 90 seconds of footage had to be edited out. The footage edited out for an R rating was as follows: Approx. 15 seconds of the close up of the dead woman on the toilet including the sounds of the bottle smashing and Henry shouting "Die Bitch Die!". Approx. 25 seconds of the close up of the dead woman on the couch including the sounds of her struggling. Approx. 50 seconds is edited from the home invasion scene consisting of approx. 15 seconds of Otis sitting down with the mother on top of him. Henry telling him to remove the mothers bra and skirt. Approx. 15 seconds of the mother struggling and pleading. Approx. 15 seconds of Otis kissing the dead mother and the sound of Henry killing the father off camera and approx. 5 seconds of Otis sucking the dead mothers breast. In 2005, all previous cuts were waived for the DVD release (rated R18+).


Soundtracks

My Mistake
Written by R. Brandle /
Paul Petraitis (as P.Petraitis)
Performed by Lynne and the Lizards

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Biography | Crime | Drama | Horror | Thriller

Box Office

Budget:

$111,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$609,939

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$609,939

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