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
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 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 »
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 »
[Otis sticks his head out the window of a moving vehicle as Henry drives, filming various women with a video camera until it hits something, busting the lens off; gets angry at Henry]
Oh! Look what you did! Aw, God! Aw, Jesus! Look at it, it's ruined! Damn, Henry, you oughta look where you're driving!
Who the hell told you to stick your head out the window anyway?
You could've killed me!
Oh, that's right. Blame it on me.
Aw, this fuckin' camera!
[...] See more »
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 »
In 1992, the uncut version was originally refused classification (RC) in Australia. To obtain an R rating, approx. 90 seconds of footage had to be edited out. The footage edited out for an R rating was as follows: Approx. 15 seconds of the close up of the dead woman on the toilet including the sounds of the bottle smashing and Henry shouting "Die Bitch Die!". Approx. 25 seconds of the close up of the dead woman on the couch including the sounds of her struggling. Approx. 50 seconds is edited from the home invasion scene consisting of approx. 15 seconds of Otis sitting down with the mother on top of him. Henry telling him to remove the mothers bra and skirt. Approx. 15 seconds of the mother struggling and pleading. Approx. 15 seconds of Otis kissing the dead mother and the sound of Henry killing the father off camera and approx. 5 seconds of Otis sucking the dead mothers breast. In 2005, all previous cuts were waived for the DVD release (rated R18+). 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.
52 of 62 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this