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
John McNaughton and Tom Towles considered the character of Otis to be a comic buffoon, and they consciously presented the character in a darkly humorous manner. Interestingly, Towles, a former U.S. Marine, formal training was in improvisational comedy, not dramatic acting. See more »
Just after Becky buys a newspaper and sits down to read, a vehicle goes past and we see a camera on a tripod to the far right of the shot. See more »
I don't want to talk about Leroy!
Okay, we don't have to talk about him! You hungry?
Good, I'm hungry too. I wonder if Leroy's hungry. (laughs)
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Special Thanks to: Tony the Cop James Marks Family The Edward Dedmond Family See more »
In 2001, Universal Home Entertainment submitted a completely uncut version of the film for classification for home video release. The BBFC waived the 4 seconds cut from the murder of the TV salesman, and 61 of the 71 seconds from the family massacre scene (they refused to reinstate the 10 seconds of the scene where Otis molests the mother after she is dead). Additionally, they partly approved the 38 second shot of the dead woman on the toilet, but they demanded that the last 17 seconds of the shot be removed. Based upon this, Universal decided to remove the shot entirely. Total time cut from the film: 48 seconds. See more »
A flat disturbing film, almost documentary in scope which trawls the depths of the human condition. 'Henry' is not surprisingly often slated as a violent exploitation film, bundled together at Film Fairs with the Italian cannibal flicks of the 70's.
Make no mistake though, this is a highly commendable piece of movie-making, which tackles the subject of serial killers with the same no-holds-barred approach which 'M' did way back in 1931. By referencing the early Fritz Lang classic, I am intentionally comparing 'Henry' favourably with it. I would also say that Henry Rooker's performance is on a par with Peter Lorre's.
The film develops like a three-handed play, revolving around Henry's flat which he shares with former prison-mate, Otis. The trio is made up by Becky, the sister of Otis, who comes to visit.
We are introduced to Henry immediately as a killer and the story does exactly what it says it will in the film's title. We simply follow Henry throughout his daily routine. No mention is given to any police enquiries and Henry is oblivious to any notion of avoiding capture or covering his tracks. Much of the film's power comes from this nonchalant approach, whereby if a person doesn't register that something he is doing is wrong, then it quickly becomes almost acceptable.
Rooker, in the title role, is totally convincing and gives a chilling performance, free from the mannerism clichés which detract from more famous serial killer characters like Hannibal Lector and Norman Bates. I can only think of Kevin Spacey in 'Seven' (1995) giving a similar level of performance for this character-type.
Despite a couple of scenes whose violent content borders on the gratuitous, for the most part 'Henry' succeeds by relying on a suffocating atmosphere and it's down-beat characters.
Anyone without a sense of desolation at the end of the film must be devoid of their senses.
BEST SCENE - Henry and Otis enjoying a night in on the sofa, watching their recent home-video recordings, is one of the most disturbing scenes I can remember watching.
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