“We as Filmmakers Entertain You with Violence”: John McNaughton on Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

The phrase “1980s horror” connotes a certain VHS aisle of franchised faces: Freddy, Jason, Chucky, Michael Myers, Pinhead. Far from that pack, like the anti-social loner of John McNaughton’s 1986 landmark film, we have Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Henry looks like a guy you’d actually see on a police lineup, intimidating but anonymous. As conceived by McNaughton and co-screenwriter Richard Fire, Henry lives in a nondescript Chicago apartment, works part time as an exterminator, and, in his spare time, kills people with nauseating ease. McNaughton films the carnage with a radical matter-of-factness, stripping an ostensible horror film of […]
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Interview: Director John McNaughton Reflects on Filming Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer

  • DailyDead
This year marks the 30th anniversary of John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and Dark Sky Films will celebrate the seminal film's birthday with a theatrical release of the movie's 4K restoration on October 21st. Before that day arrives, though, star Michael Rooker and McNaughton will bring Henry home tonight with a screening and Q&A at the event where it premiered 30 years ago: the Chicago International Film Festival. Ahead of the special occasion, Daily Dead caught up with McNaughton to reflect on the making of his cult classic and the creation of one of cinema's most cold-blooded killers.

The performances and the way you shot Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer make it feel so real while watching it. It feels like we found a tape from a real-life killer. When you were making the movie, was that one of your biggest objectives, to make it seem as real as possible?
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200 Greatest Horror Films (30-21)

Special Mention: Werckmeister Harmonies

Directed by Bela Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky

Written by László Krasznahorkai and Bela Tarr

2000, Hungary / Italy / Germany

Genre: Emotional Horror

Bela Tarr is a filmmaker whose work is a highly acquired taste, but as a metaphysical horror story, Werckmeister Harmonies is an utter masterpiece that should appeal to most cinephiles. The film title refers to the 17th-century German organist-composer Andreas Werckmeister, esteemed for his influential structure and harmony of music. Harmonies is strung together like a magnificent symphony working on the viewer’s emotions over long stretches of time even when the viewer is unaware of what’s going on. Attempting to make sense of Tarr’s movies in strict narrative terms is not the best way to go about watching his films; but regardless if you come away understanding Harmonies or not, you won’t soon forget the film. Harmonies is a technical triumph, shot
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Blu-ray Review: Henry – Portrait of a Serial Killer

Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer

Stars: Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold | Written by John McNaughton, Richard Fire | DIrected by John McNaughton

Yet another film that courted controversy, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was, at the time of its initial release, held up as an abhorrent movie that did not deserve to be in the homes of the British public. Now some two decades later the film is released on Blu-ray in high definition and uncut, courtesy of StudioCanal UK.

Shot on a ridiculously low budget by director John McNaughton (the rest of whose work sadly never lived up to the promise of this film), the movie is loosely based on the real life crimes of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, and sees Michael Rooker play Henry, a psychologically damaged man who, together with his ex-con acquaintance Otis (Tom Towles), embarks on a killing spree of the most vicious and grisly kind.
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Blu-ray Review – Henry: Potrait Of A Serial Killer – Gritty & Disturbing

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Films based on real life crime sprees are often some of the most intense an unsettling pieces of cinema, particularly with their ability to depict just how senseless and erratic such criminals actually are. John McNaughton’s infamous low budget chiller Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, which makes its way on to Blu-ray and DVD this week, is certainly one such film. Follow the jump for our review…

Loosely based on the real life crimes of American serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, John McNaughton’s haunting docudrama sees Michael Rooker take on the role of Henry, a demented man who arrives in Chicago to move in with an ex-con acquaintance, Otis (Tom Towles). Otis’ kid sister Becky comes to live with her older brother after a falling out back home, deciding to head out to the big city to find a new life. We follow
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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Movie Review

Review by Jason Lees,

Damn. Every now and then you get a little reminder of just how good movies can be. I mean really good. Not ‘fun’ or ‘enjoyable’. I’m talking damn good. Lately we’ve been settling for fun little flicks, movies that are worth your time and you can recommend to friends are all around us, but every so often, you come across one that reminds you just how powerful cinema is. Yes, I dug Human Centipede and Serbian Film. I thought they were both shocking in their own way, but neither can hold a stinky in poor taste candle to Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer when it comes to pure disturbing and unsettling heebie fucking jeebies.

Henry is Not a thrill ride. Henry is Not a movie you laugh at when it’s done like a roller coaster. There is no group hug
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Blu-Ray Review: ‘Henry’ Remains an Indelible ‘Portrait’ of a Sociopath

Chicago – Twenty-three years after it was made, and nineteen years after its limited theatrical release, “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” is as potent and relevant as ever. Filmmaker John McNaughton, along with writing partner Richard Fire, proved that true horror is found not in manufactured scares that jolt the audience like a theme park ride, but in the corrupted mind and soul of an evil being. The film truly is a human “portrait,” since it is more interested in behavior than plot. McNaughton used the true story of a Texas killer named Henry as his inspiration for this masterwork, which still stands as one of the finest and most unsettling independent films ever made.

Blu-Ray Rating: 4.5/5.0

There are definite echoes of “Psycho” in the film’s unforgettable opening sequence, where the camera focuses on Henry’s recent victims with a quiet horror that evokes memories of Marion Crane’s
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