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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Unrated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  7 September 1990 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 21,056 users  
Reviews: 200 user | 125 critic

Based on the true life serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas.

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Title: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

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The making of seminal 80s horror film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986).

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary Demas ...
Dead Woman / Dead Prostitute / Hooker #1
...
Anne Bartoletti ...
Waitress
Elizabeth Kaden ...
Dead Couple - Wife
Ted Kaden ...
Dead Couple - Husband
Denise Sullivan ...
Floating Woman
Anita Ores ...
Mall Shopper #1
Megan Ores ...
Mall Shopper #2
Cheri Jones ...
Mall Shopper #3
Monica Anne O'Malley ...
Mall Victim
Bruce Quist ...
Husband
Erzsebet Sziky ...
Hitchiker
Tracy Arnold ...
Tom Towles ...
David Katz ...
Henry's Boss
Edit

Storyline

Loosely based on serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, 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. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

before "The Silence of the Lambs" comes the most highly acclaimed and controversial film of the year." See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 September 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Henri, portret serijskog ubice  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$111,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$609,939 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (edited for TV)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When the film was submitted to the BBFC for classification in 1990, distributor Electric Pictures removed the shot of the dead woman on the toilet without consulting director John McNaughton because they felt it would predispose the BBFC to look on the film as an exploitation piece and not a serious film. See more »

Goofs

In the opening shot of the movie of a woman's body, the "dead" woman (Mary Demas) takes a few breaths towards the end of the shot, as seen by the movement of her stomach. The filmmakers point this out in the commentary, and show additional footage in the outtakes. See more »

Quotes

Otis: Adios, motherfucker.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Before the film begins the following can be read: "This film is a fictional dramatization of certain events. 'Henry' is not intended to be an accurate portrayal of a true story. The film is based partly on confessions of a person named Henry, many of which he later recanted. As to Otis and Betty, the film is fictional." See more »

Connections

Referenced in The McCarthys: Pilot (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Morning Dew
Written by Mic Fabus (as M. Fabus) / R. Young
Performed by Fawn
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Movie To Keep You Up At Night...
4 December 2008 | by (Arlington, VA.) – See all my reviews

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.


11 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Is this movie actually SCARY? szegarra92
Otis abhorred me more than Henry did! looker7
I wonder if John Walsh ever saw this... kmay144
This movie reminds me of (SPOILERISH) polyrng

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