Henry Deep Dark Thoughts
When I think about what scares me the most in horror, the answer comes rather quickly. What scares me are the things I don’t see. The killer whose identity isn’t revealed to the last five minutes, the monster who hides in the shadows dancing slyly in and out of the moonlight, and graphic aftermath of mayhem that is left to me (i.e the viewers) imagination.
This final point is demonstrated so excellently in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. We never really see Henry in his full out glory, sure we see him kill some people very violently, but the real terror lies in the murders we don’t see. Those we hear occurring in the background. IMHO the power of this film lies in that technique and I kinda find it a little fun that Henry was so controversial when it was the first release.
This controversy wasn’t based on the gore in the film, even though we were lead to believe that, no it was because of the realism of the subject matter. I mean the story was based loosely on the confessions of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. Serial killers were just starting to becoming more and more identifiable. You had John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, and a little scrawny fellow from Milwaukee named Dahmer. Serial killers were turning out to be the guy next door and that scared the shit out of America and especially the MPAA (rating board). That’s what scared me too.
Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer is an excellent case study in horror. I won’t say that about it’s serial killers angle, but its honest approach rather than campy ones of other slasher films put it heads and shoulders above the competition in this arena. “Rampage” by William Friedkin is another title that might fall into the same category of being brutally honest on this subject. Filming the movies from Henry’s viewpoint, rather than from the victims’ or the cops who are trying to track him down, was very original. Again, as always with my site, if you have anything that you can offer to improve this page, feel free to e-mail me
Based on the life and killings of Henry Lee Lucas, famed American serial killer who now resides on death row in Texas.
“It’s always the quiet ones”. How many times have we heard this phrase used to describe a killer? Too often. Henry (Michael Rooker) is the boy next door who just can’t get that taste for murder out of his mouth. It all started because he was an abused child. His mother was a whore who made him watch her having sex with other guys. She even made him wear dresses while laughing at him. Now that would screw up any little. No wonder he killed her.
When an animal tastes human blood, it’s hard to keep it from coming back for more. This could never be truer than with Henry. Henry leaves a trail of the body behind him (evident in the opening montage of the film) as drifts into his new hunting ground. He later shacks up with a scumbag name Ottis, who he met in the slammer. There he meets and catches the eye of Otis sister, Becky.
Henry begins to show Ottis his murderous ways and he decides to come along for the ride. The mayhem that follows is some of the most disturbing, yet exhilarating stuff ever shot on celluloid. This film is a definite “must see” for any horror fan. Rent the film and see the real mind of a madman.
Henry Frightful Facts
- Great tagline, “HE’S NOT FREDDY, HE’S NOT JASON…HE’S REAL”.
- Henry was shot in 28 days on a budget of $111K.
- It was originally completed in 1986 (production took 4 weeks), but because of the controversy with the rating board (MPAA), it didn’t get released to video until 1989.
- It was given an X-rating because of its’ moral tone (it was just too damn real for most people).
- Based loosely on the confession of convicted serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.
- The director, co-writer, and much of the crew were all members of The Organic Theater in Chicago, which was formed by famed Re-Animator director, Stuart Gordon.
- A total of 15 people were killed in the movie.
- The idea for Henry came from a 20/20 report on serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.
- Spawned a sequel, Henry: Mask of Sanity. It isn’t anywhere as good as the original.
- There is a very gruesome scene, shot on videotape, where Henry and Otis kill a family in their home. After filming the scene, the actor who plays the mother went into shock
- The UK cinema version was cut by just under a minute, mainly of the killing of the family. A further minute of cuts was required for a video release, with some slight re-editing of the video watching scene by the BBFC causing most controversy.
- The film won awards from the following film festivals: Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film, Catalonian International Film Festival, Sitges, Spain, and Seattle International Film Festival.
- Buy Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer 20th Anniversary Edition on DVD at Amazon.com.
- Buy The Silence of the Lambs on DVD atAmazon.com.
- Buy “The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers” at Amazon.com.
- Buy Ted Bundy on DVD at Amazon.com.
- Buy The Manson Family on DVD atAmazon.com.
- Checkout the new House of Horrors t-shirt for sale now
Henry Lee Lucas died on Death Row of apparent heart failure on March 21st, 2001.
Henry Cast & Crew
|Certification||USA:Unrated / UK:18 / Finland:(Banned) (VV) / Finland:K-18 / Sweden:15|
|Runtime||USA:83 / Sweden:78|
|Directed by||John McNaughton|
|Written by||Richard Fire,|
|Music by||Ken Hale,|
Steven A. Jones,
|Produced by||Lisa Dedmond,|
Steven A. Jones,
Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer Fanspeak
RE: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
In regards to your review…..
I am a very successful 18 year old college student, making great grades and am very happy. The one thing that would make my life complete is something that nearly everyone has but me…my mother. Henry Lee Lucas killed my mother in 1983, when I was only three years old. She was a pretty, petite 17 year old who was hitchhiking and had no clue as to what fate would bring her that night. She was raped, beaten, and drug almost 10 miles naked by a vehicle that had one end of a rope tied to her neck and the other end tied to the bumper.
In short, I have never seen this movie, nor have I even heard of this movie until now. I think that the way you “celebritize” Lucas and make him out to be God is atrocious and it is demeaning, both to me and to my family. Put yourself in my shoes–do you think that you would react the same?
T3: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
T4: I have to say, when I first rented this movie I had my doubts. When I started the movie my doubts were already gone. At the beginning when it show the lifeless body of that women, I already knew that raw brutality was going to be present throughout. I loved this movie so much I had to rent it twice, the second time I rented it at Blockbuster and the rental box said “NO ONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO WATCH THIS MOTION PICTURE” and I thought to myself, even Blockbuster knows who good this film is. The thing I like about this movie is that director John McNaughton is not afraid to take this movie to extremes.
The murder scenes are presented ina original fashion it will show the body and then play a piece of the strugle( the victim and Henry had). The part where it showed the partially naked hooker wtih the glass bottle stuck in her blood-drenched face was a classic(and you could hear their brief confrontation). The director is not afraid to show even children being murdered, most directors will not have to the guts to do that. The incest/rape scene was disgusting, but if that would not have happened Otis would have been stabbed in the eye, and get his head chopped off and put in a bag.
The finale is the real shocker, it proved that he would kill anyone, even people who were nice to him (actually I think he killed her because he was afraid she’d tell). A masterpiece in every way. One of the most controversial releases of the 80’s. Originally Rated X. It the best serial killer film though. If you have any objections, questions and comments, well take a guess what to do (it begins with an e and ends with a L, ok ok e-mail)
T3: Henry:Portrait of a Serial Killer
T4: I have to say that this was an excellent crime/horror film. I just wished the MPAA would not have given it such a hard time. Henry’s murderous aftermath was presented in such an explicit fashion, which make the movie all the more interesting. The graphic violence is why most people who hate this movie hate this movie, if not the unpleasantrape/incest scene. All together this was an excellent movie.