Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Unrated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  7 September 1990 (USA)
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Reviews: 201 user | 129 critic

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


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary Demas ...
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Anne Bartoletti ...
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 ...
Erzsebet Sziky ...
Tracy Arnold ...
Tom Towles ...
David Katz ...
Henry's Boss


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


He's not Freddy. He's not Jason. He's real. See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 September 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Henri, portret serijskog ubice  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$111,000 (estimated)


$609,939 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (edited for TV)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although completed in 1986, the film didn't get a theatrical release until 1989. It is often mistakenly claimed that this was due to its being tied up in censorship issues with the MPAA, and although this is true to a degree, the majority of the delay occurred because the executive producers, Malik B. Ali and Waleed B. Ali were somewhat underwhelmed by the film turned in by director John McNaughton, and weren't sure it was even worth their time releasing it on VHS, let alone releasing theatrically. As McNaughton himself says, "they just put it on the shelf". Several years later, Chuck Parello (who would go on to direct Henry II: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1996)) saw the film and was deeply impressed. Parello was working for the Ali brothers at the time, and he began to lobby them to do something with it. He convinced them to let it be screened at the Chicago Film Festival in 1989, where, after getting a glowing review from the Chicago Tribune's Rick Kogan, the film was accepted into the 1989 Telluride Festival and subsequently the 1990 Splatterfest Festival, becoming the sensation of both festivals. At this point, the Ali brothers realized they had something unique on their hands and set about promoting the film for theatrical release. See more »


Some obvious matte lines are seen in the film from time to time. See more »


Becky: Did you really kill your mama?
Henry: I guess I did.
Becky: How'd it happen?
Henry: I stabbed her.
Becky: Otis said you hit her with a baseball bat.
Henry: Otis said that?
Becky: Yeah.
Henry: Well, he's mistaken.
Becky: Well don't tell him I told you. He made me promise.
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 »


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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

30 October 2004 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

I am 57 years old. I've seen many films in my lifetime. I am not easily frightened or upset by movies. I am partial to drama and documentaries. I can count on one hand the films that I have found to be so deeply disturbing, that I later regretted seeing them.This film is among them. It is possible to "see too much" in this life, and once seen, some sights remain trapped in your head FOREVER short of getting a lobotomy, or being

hypnotized. Leaving the theater that day, I honestly felt as though I had actually witnessed several murders. I was really shaken by the horrific realism of this cinematic event. I was sorry that I had seen the film, but it was too late to retract the terror that, even today, still remains in my memory. Some things are so

emotionally damaging, that perhaps they should be left alone. This film was so powerfully unsettling for me, that I feel a need to warn others of the emotional impact. This speaks well of the directors skill at scaring movie-goers, but

approach with caution please. This is a very heavy movie. The Honeymoon

Killers is another film that I regret seeing. Would that I could forget that


94 of 121 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) polinomi0

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