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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Unrated | | Biography, Crime, Drama | 7 September 1990 (USA)
Trailer
1:47 | Trailer
Henry, a drifter, commits a series of brutal murders, supposedly operating with impunity.

Director:

John McNaughton
9 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary Demas ... Dead Woman / Dead Prostitute / Hooker #1
Michael Rooker ... Henry
Anne Bartoletti Anne Bartoletti ... Waitress
Elizabeth Kaden Elizabeth Kaden ... Dead Couple - Wife
Ted Kaden Ted Kaden ... Dead Couple - Husband
Denise Sullivan Denise Sullivan ... Floating Woman
Anita Ores Anita Ores ... Mall Shopper #1
Megan Ores Megan Ores ... Mall Shopper #2
Cheri Jones Cheri Jones ... Mall Shopper #3
Monica Anne O'Malley Monica Anne O'Malley ... Mall Victim
Bruce Quist Bruce Quist ... Husband
Erzsebet Sziky Erzsebet Sziky ... Hitchiker
Tracy Arnold ... Becky
Tom Towles ... Otis
David Katz David Katz ... Henry's Boss
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

before "The Silence of the Lambs" comes the most highly acclaimed and controversial film of the year." See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Henry: Guns are easy to get... I can make a phone call and get a gun. Anybody can get a gun, Otis.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special Thanks to: Tony the Cop James Marks Family The Edward Dedmond Family See more »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Featured in Trailer Trauma 3: 80s Horrorthon (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Waiting in the Garden
Written by P. Blast / Robert McNaughton (as R. McNaughton)
Performed by Brisance
See more »

User Reviews

 
Wholesome entertainment for all the family.
9 March 2003 | by Wilbur-10See all my reviews

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 September 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer See more »

Filming Locations:

Northbrook, Illinois, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$111,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$609,939

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$609,939
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Maljack Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (edited for TV)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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