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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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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:

The shocking true story of Henry Lee Lucas. See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The song playing in the background when Otis tests out the new video camera is "Psycho" by The Sonics. See more »

Goofs

(around 46 min.) When the high school kid gets into Otis' car to share a blunt, the operational camera crew is vaguely reflected on the car door as it swings open. See more »

Quotes

Otis: [tries to fix the TV, the reception messes up further. Finally, Otis can't take it no more] Ah, shit!
[kicks the TV set, destroying it and sending smoke in air]
Otis: Fuck...
[Henry walks in on Otis and the broken TV]
Henry: [scoffs] What did you do that for?
Otis: I guess I got carried away.
Henry: Well I guess you did, Otis.
Otis: Shit, I got to have a TV...
Henry: Well, let's go shopping.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

In 2003, Optimum Releasing again submitted a fully uncut version of the film for classification for home video release. In February 2003, the BBFC passed the film completely uncut, and in March 2003, the uncut version of the film was officially released in the UK for the first time. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Big Box: The House of the Devil (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

My Mistake
Written by R. Brandle / Paul Petraitis (as P.Petraitis)
Performed by Lynne and the Lizards
See more »

User Reviews

 
Is this a film to acclaim or condemn?
4 April 1999 | by bwaynefSee all my reviews

In 1960, Michael Powell committed professional suicide by directing and producing "Peeping Tom," a thriller in which a psychopathic murderer photographs his victims at the moment of death. Denounced as sick and without redeeming social value, "Peeping Tom" vanished from theaters, while its director, also denounced as sick, went on to make only two more films in the next eight years. Powell's film has gone on to attract an avid cult following and, if it hasn't done so already, so will "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer."

Loosely based on the real life exploits of Henry Lee Lucas, a leering, low IQ sicko who became a media star after claiming to have murdered several dozen people (some believe Henry was bragging), this film takes a gritty, realistic approach that creates the impression that we are watching real life unfold. Director John McNaughton exploits the discomfort the viewer is inclined to feel by presenting a scene in which Henry and his equally vicious former cellmate, Otis, videotape the rape and murder of one of their victims, then play it back for further amusement. This shocking episode effectively makes the point that those who seek second hand thrills through violent "entertainment" are almost as guilty as the perpetrators of such deeds. By casting anonymous non-stars in the leading roles (not that he had a choice considering the budget and the repellent subject matter), and focusing entirely on the exploits of the killers (there are no scenes of police investigating the crimes or peeks into the lives of the victims), McNaughton has created a brutal, amoral horror film that makes the bloodiest gorefest look benign. Although the real Henry was apprehended, his cinematic counterpart is never even suspected of his crimes, and gets off scot-free.

Is "Henry" a film to acclaim or condemn? It's a difficult question to answer, and I, for one cannot make a decision. It is so expertly made that I think McNaughton deserves a round of applause and maybe an Oscar. But, at the end of the video tape of the film that I watched, there was a commercial hawking "Henry" T-shirts ($14.98) and posters ($7.98). Both were available through "Henry Merchandising," and this attempt to turn this all too real murderer into a cult figure deserving of a fan club is despicable.


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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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (edited for TV)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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