Title: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Director: John McNaughton (The Borrower)
Cast: Michael Rooker, Tracy Arnold, Tom Towles
Review: There's only a handful of movies out there that you watch them and after wards you are left with this look of shock in your face. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is one of them. Based on the real life exploits of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, this films achieves a thing rare in todays horror films. It scares you.
Henry appears to be a regular guy. He works as an exterminator and lives in a little apartment in Chicago with his roommate Otis. They were both inmates in jail and now that they are both out, they decide to live in the same apartment. Things get complicated when Otis's sister Becky decides to move in with them because shes had some problems back home and because of her extreme loneliness she falls in love with Henry. Of course she doesn't know about his part time job as a vicious serial killer.
This movie really surprised me. As I watched it I couldn't help but think why the hell I had not seen this before. The reason is the film was made in 1986 and no studios were interested in it because of its graphic and realistic nature. Therefore it went straight to video in 1990. Well, it took me a while but I finally got around to watching this film and let me tell you, if you haven't seen this film and you call yourself a horror fan, well, get your ass off your couch and go and get it like right now! Its essential viewing my friends.
Now, some people might think that this film is all about gore and blood and the murders, and yes there's lots of that. But to me what really stood out were the performances. Michael Rooker does an incredible career making performance with Henry. Its strange but the way the character is portrayed he seems almost like a good guy when compared to for example his roommate Otis. Now there's a real scumbag if there ever was one, which brings me to another point about this movie. The characters are the lowest scumbags you will ever know! I mean, you don't want to meet these guys on the street. And the actor who plays Otis (Tom Towles), he really out did himself in making his character a real turd of a man. So my hats down to these two actors for doing some of the best acting I've ever seen on a horror movie. I also enjoyed Tracy Arnold playing Becky, Otis's sister. Her reactions towards some of the events rang very true, specially towards the end.
The writers of this film made sure that the tense moments were very effective. And strange thing is that some of the most tense moments have nothing to do with the actual murders being committed. I found the most tense moments were those between Otis and Henrys different personalities clashing or just the fact that you know that these two guys are certified lunatics so you know that any given situation can turn into a real bloodbath, every moment in this movie is just right there on the verge of going completely ballistic. So the intensity levels are high here thanks to some great performances and a solid script.
But whats a movie about a serial killer without some killings? Some well orchestrated murder set pieces? Well there's plenty of those in this movie since the real life Henry Lee Lucas reportedly killed hundreds of people. So right from the get go in the first scene you get a taste of Henrys work. Interesting thing is the way that the movie chooses to show you some of the killings. The director decided only to show the aftermath of the actual killing. He focuses on the corpse of the victim and then we chillingly hear how it all happened. I found this to be effectively creepy. By the way, John McNaughton the director used some really great sound effects to enhance the sequences. There's some gore here too, not everything is implied. And when things get gory...they get gory my friends. There's a scene involving a bathtub...wow. You'll see what I mean, don't wanna spoil any fun.
So, basically, this is one of those movies that makes you feel really uncomfortable as you watch it, but you just cant take your eyes off it. And at the same time you can appreciate how extremely well crafted this motion picture is. One thing is for damn sure, you wont feel like your watching the type of horror movie they make today. This is a solidly horrifying film that you wont soon forget.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) 1080p YIFY Movie
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) 1080p
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a movie starring Michael Rooker, Tracy Arnold, and Tom Towles. Henry, a drifter, commits a series of brutal murders, supposedly operating with impunity.
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The Synopsis for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) 1080p
Loosely based on serial killer , the film follows Henry and his roommate Otis who Henry introduces to murdering randomly selected people. The killing spree depicted in the film starts after Otis' sister Becky comes to stay with them. The people they kill are strangers and in one particularly gruesome attack, kill all three members of a family during a home invasion. Henry lacks compassion in everything he does and isn't the kind to leave behind witnesses - of any kind.
The Director and Players for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) 1080p
The Reviews for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) 1080p
Realistic, incredible performances. Solid horror film!Reviewed byspacemonkey_fgVote: 10/10
Title: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
When I had the chance to see HENRY 2, I wasn't really sure if I had seen the first one, because so much time has passed since its release and the commotion it caused back in '86. Now having had the chance to see the 20th Anniversary Edition from Dark Sky Films, I'm not so sure that I didn't remember it, as much as I didn't WANT to remember...
John McNaughton presented the indie world with his calling card via this film, and simultaneously raised the bar for what "realism" is in these kinds of horror movies. And where the true horror lies is the way in which it deconstructs and de-glamorizes the image that Hollywood has created for serial killers. This is not a chronicle of a super-intelligent monster like Hannibal Lecter, or even the "channeled" virtuosity of a "noble" murderer like Dexter Morgan.
This could be anybody you walked past down the street yesterday, or saw at the stop light on the way home from work. And make no mistake about it...he works at a job, pays rent and buys groceries like anybody else. And if you happen to catch yourself alone with him at the wrong time, the next time anyone will ever see you again is at the morgue. Count on it.
Based loosely on the exploits of multiple murderer Henry Lee Lucas, HENRY was the breakout role for Michael Rooker (SLITHER), and together with co-stars Tom Towles as his dim-witted sidekick, Otis and Tracy Arnold as Otis' emotionally blasted sister, Becky, they paint a documentary-style picture under McNaughton's guidance, of how some people living on the fringes of society behave. This doesn't necessarily mean that they're wild-eyed, foaming-at-the-mouth-crazy, and therein lies the scariest part of all. These are the kind of blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth types that you might dismiss without giving a second thought...but the time might come when you do so at your own peril.
From the opening frames of the movie, you know you're in territory that's far removed from the usual slasher film. Henry is seen doing mundane, everyday things - buying cigarettes, finishing lunch at a local diner - and juxtaposed with those scenes are absolutely horrific shots of dead, mutilated bodies, as the sounds of how they died careen and crash underneath the discordant music along the soundtrack. Sorry, kids, but this isn't THE Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE. In that picture, as within this one, a time and place is firmly established. But if you don't live in Texas, part of you can sort of remove yourself from the horror that wants to seep into your subconscious and stay there.
With HENRY, it becomes obvious that the locale is somewhere in metropolitan Chicago, but the urban landscape is familiar enough that it could be Atlanta, Detroit, Boston, New York, anywhere. It could be the city where YOU live now.
And by writing the characters and the events they're involved in with a totally detached, non-judgmental eye, McNaughton and writing partner Richard Fire reveal a horror more numbing and penetrating than a thousand Freddy Kruegers or Michael Myers. There are people in the world who actually do these kinds of things, and they're out there NOW...and it's only by the grace of providence or some cosmic lottery that we've won, that we don't ever run into these people...or that some of us unfortunately do.
Enough has already been written about the remarkable performances of all the actors involved, so the only thing I can add is that if you've never seen HENRY, you need to watch it all the way through at least once. I can safely say that you will see why horror is the way it is today, and how so many filmmakers have misinterpreted what director McNaughton was saying with HENRY.
With the searing images still fresh in my mind, I can only say this...I feel like I need to take about a hundred hot showers, and none of it will ever wash away how nasty and horrible it made me feel. Which I believe is exactly what the makers of this film were trying to accomplish.
I sincerely hope that once you've seen this, you would feel the same. And I would be really worried about anybody who doesn't, or worse, who said they "enjoyed" it.
Henry (Michael Rooker), a character based on serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, hooks up with his prison friend Otis (Tom Towles) and his sister Becky (Tracy Arnold). Henry teaches Otis how to be a bloodthirsty killer, but things go awry when Otis fails to have Henry's level of control and turns his sights on to his own sister.
Director John McNaughton was a delivery man for executive producers Malik B. Ali and Waleed B. Ali of Maljack Productions, who then had him make some low-budget Chicago-themed documentaries before offering him $110,000 and a 16mm camera to make a horror film (without offering any ideas or limitations).
The story was brought to McNaughton by his friend Gus, who had a videotape of "20/20". McNaughton never heard of Henry before, and was not even familiar with the term "serial killer", but felt this had great potential. He had always loved horror films, especially Roger Corman's work with AIP, and he teamed up with Richard Fire of the Organic Theater (the home base of Stuart Gordon), where they found Tracy Arnold and Tom Towles. Towles, of course, would go on to work with McNaughton many more times.
Along with the cast, McNaughton brought in composer Robert McNaughton (no relation), who does a fine job adding to the creep factor, and the use of samples (such as screams) was quite innovative for its day. We also get some great street scenes, showing Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago (near where director McNaughton lived). One home shot at was at the corner of North and Wood in the Wicker Park neighborhood.
This film is absolutely amazing. Opening with still frame scenes of death, including a murdered hooker who is the most disturbing corpse I have seen since I watched "Four Rooms" (and this precedes that film by a decade). The first scene opens with the unknown victim "Orange Socks", posed just as in the police photograph, only adding to the authenticity.
The camera used was of lesser quality than a normal theatrical movie camera, giving a more realistic or "snuff" feel. I can watch heads explode and all sorts of simulated violence without flinching, but this really put me in a zone of discomfort. With a repeated viewing, this feeling decreases, but the grit of "Henry" is timeless.
Likewise, there is a later scene where a murder is being filmed on a home video recorder. The actors go to such extremes with the violence that it looks completely plausible -- I would be surprised if the victims were not actually injured in the process. This realism is something not often found in horror, and really makes this film stand out as a groundbreaking piece of work.
Michael Rooker, still a novice actor at this point, is amazing. He comes across as somehow dumb yet clever, unable to read but able to get what he needs. This fits the redneck killer profile of his character, and is so convincing you woud think Rooker himself was a little bit dumb or slow if you had not seen him in other roles ("Mallrats", "Days of Thunder").
The use of largely unknown actors, and not very attractive ones at that, again added to the realism. Hollywood would try to make the killers ugly but do so by using beautiful people (I think "Monster" proved this). "Henry" presented us with exactly what we were promised without all the glossy shine. At a screening of "Henry" in Chicago in August 2008 at Portage Theater, director John McNaughton made an appearance but refused to answer questions about the picture. This is a shame, McNaughton. Not only is this the film that made you a name, but it is legitimately a great picture and possibly your best work. Please don't alienate your fans or deny yourself this great achievement.
If you are looking for lots of sex and blood, you are probably looking for "Murder Set Pieces" (which is like this, but different at the same time -- less realism). If you want pure in-your-face brutality, this is more your style. I give it a complete recommendation, and consider it a "must see" for all horror fans of all ages (well, those old enough to handle the intensity, that is).
One last interesting note: after some distribution issues, this film was part of the reason for the MPAA's creation of NC-17 along with Pedro Almodovar's "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down". So, along with being a great film, it also has historical value.