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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Unrated | | Biography, Crime, Drama | 7 September 1990 (USA)
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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:

Yeah, I killed my Mama... See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 September 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Henry, retrato de un asesino See more »

Filming Locations:

Northbrook, Illinois, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$111,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene in the living room, where Otis (Tom Towles) films Henry (Michael Rooker) and Becky (Tracy Arnold) with the camcorder, was completely improvised by the three cast members. See more »

Goofs

Some obvious matte lines are seen in the film from time to time. See more »

Quotes

Otis: [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!
Henry: Who the hell told you to stick your head out the window anyway?
Otis: You could've killed me!
Henry: Oh, that's right. Blame it on me.
Otis: Aw, this fuckin' camera!
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't You Know
Written by Mic Fabus (as M. Fabus) / Steven A. Jones (as S.A. Jones)
Performed by Fawn
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

one of the scariest movies ever made, period.
3 August 1999 | by Rusty-61See all my reviews

With the BWP hype, a lot of talk of going around about "the scariest movie you've ever seen". Probably because I've seen over a thousand horror/fright/suspense/gore movies, I have trouble pinning it down. I can't name the scariest, I can name the top 5. As far as non-supernatural horror goes, this movie and Last House on the Left are the scariest movies I've ever seen.

I saw this at a film festival and the audience was very, very quiet. My friend and I just sat there quietly cowering most of the time. It's just way too realistic. The opening and closing are probably the most frightening, and we don't even see Henry killing anyone, just the bodies of his victims and their terrified screams in the background, echoing. It will give you chills down your spine. The stuff in the movie that scared me wasn't any big "jumps" or gore, just very disturbing, creepy moments (especially if you knew someone who was been the victim of a homicide, as I do). My friend I saw it with worked at the city prosecutors office and heard about plenty of local murder cases and said it rang very, very true to life. One of the most chilling scenes is early on, when Henry goes to a mall and just sits patiently in the parking lot, scanning. The camera looks coldly and calculatedly at different women in the parking lot from Henry's point of view. There are so many shots you almost start to wonder what the point of the scene is until it hits you: they are ALL potential victims, this is how he looks at women. I have always been careful as a woman whenever I am alone but after seeing the film, to this DAY I do not walk to my car alone at the mall without my mace in my hand, and I look all around me and never turn my back on anyone. The movie also does not glamorize the killing or violence against women at all.

Also, it's a good primer on home and personal safety. (a good rule- Do not EVER let a stranger into your house when you are home alone if you were not expecting him. In fact, after I saw this I never open the door when I am home alone and not expecting anyone, period. Think I'm paranoid? Watch this movie and see how safe you feel).

The plot sounds simple but it's not boring. The movie follows the exploits of Henry, a young man who is practically a textbook case of a serial killer (male, white, 30's, drifter, soft-spoken, shy). Conflict comes when his disgusting nasty inbred cousin Otis Toole stays with him, along with his pathetic sister. One night Otis and Henry pick up a couple of prostitutes and are having sex with them in the car. Henry kills both of them sort of offhandedly, with no more emotion than you would swat a fly. Otis starts joining him on his exploits. Henry is more sympathetic than Otis, however, because while Henry does these things because he is sick and doesn't have a choice, Otis seems to get off on them, and also should know better. Things sorta go downhill from there, and the sister complicates things because she is so desperately lonely that Henry starts to look good to her. It culminates in one of the most chilling, downbeat endings of all time.

After I saw this movie at the festival, I was lucky enough to be there when Michael Rooker, who plays the title character, came out and lectured and did Q & A. When I say lucky, I don't mean lucky that I got to meet a celebrity (though that was neat). I mean lucky that I was able to have proof immediately afterwards that this was just a movie. If the movie had ended and I just had to get up and go home, I probably wouldn't have gotten any sleep for about a week. He was very nice and personable, wore glasses and a blazer, not at all like his character. The thing I remember most clearly is someone asked him what kind of movies he liked and he replied, "I don't like horror movies, really, I like musicals". Everyone laughed for about 5 minutes, partially out of relief. BIG relief. See, it's just a movie, there's the actor right there, and ha-ha, he's actually very shy and charming and harmless, isn't that funny?

Even with all of that, I still find this one of the most disturbing, unsettling movies ever made. You haven't seen a really scary movie until you see this movie.


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