Arriving in Chicago, Henry 'Michael Rooker, in what is undoubtedly the finest performance of his patchy career', moves in with ex-con acquaintance Otis and starts schooling him in the ways of the serial killer.
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 »
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 »
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 »
The film has had a long and complex relationship with the BBFC. In 1990, distributor Electric Pictures submitted it for classification with 38 seconds already removed (the pan across the hotel room and into the bathroom, revealing the semi-naked woman on the toilet with a broken bottle stuck in her mouth). Electric Pictures had performed this edit themselves without the approval of director John McNaughton because they feared it was such an extreme image so early in the film, it would turn the board against them. The film was classified 18 for theatrical release in April 1991, but only if 24 seconds were cut from the family massacre scene (primarily involving the shots where Otis gropes the mother's breasts both prior to killing her and after she is dead). Total time cut from the film: 62 seconds. See more »
Written by R. Brandle / Paul Petraitis (as P.Petraitis)
Performed by Lynne and the Lizards See more »
A dark and twisted film about a very deranged and demented soul.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) is a film that is loosely based upon the exploits of notorious white trash serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. This man claimed to have killed hundreds of people, mostly women. But the director takes us down the path of a man who is in many ways similar to the real deal.
Michael Rooker stars as Henry, a demented man living in a twisted world who lives with a scummy roommate Otis (based also on Henry Lee Lucas' running buddy/lover Ottis Toole). Otis' kid sister Becky (loosely based upon the very young sister of Ottis) comes to live with her older brother after a falling out back home. She decides to head out to the big city to find a new life.
The film follows the murderous trail of Henry who's pent of rage and sexual frustrations fuel the madness that's locked deep within his psyche. Those that are around him soon feel his madness and it's brutal and fatal consequences. The director follows these three individuals with a pseudo-documentary feel. The rape and murder scenes are graphic and brutal as they should be. This is no mere exploitation film because there is nothing exploitative about it, as it should be.
I have to recommended this film. It's a sick, twisted but honest look at the life of a serial killer. He's no movie magic monster because unlike those, he's for real. Co-starring future B-Movie thug Tom Towles as Otis.
You'll never see a film like this again.
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