I just watched Henry: The Portrait Of A Serial Killer for the first time, and I can honestly say it’s one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. In the film, Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) plays a man named Henry who lives with his friend Otis, played by Tom Towles (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects). Together, the two murder whomever they find appealing. Loosely based on the story of real life murderer Henry Lee Lucas, this film is extremely authentic.
There’s been a lot of controversy over this movie for many years. Due to its graphic nature, the movie wasn’t released until 1989, even though it was completed in 1986. Some say that Henry is sinister, and shouldn’t be watched by anyone. Others argue that the film is a masterpiece because it’s such a great depiction of a murderer. I, too, believe that this is a fantastic film, but I do think that if you want to watch it, you should know what you’re getting into. “Henry” is not for the faint of heart. Many directors do the audience a favor, and turn the camera away from the victim when he or she is being attacked. John McNaughton shows no such mercy in this horribly disturbing slasher. Almost every act of violence is focused on until the viewer feels as if he or she were trapped in a room with these soulless creatures. Gritty and relentless, “Henry” is terrifying because nothing is held back.
Henry is a common, blue-collar, working man that you’d never suspect would follow you home and butcher you in front of your family. A complete sociopath, Henry displays signs of apathy stronger than any man should. Even Otis’s sister, Becky, who stays with the two killers while she’s low on money, doesn’t seem to notice Henry’s darker side. His calm composure that remains intact throughout the film, even when he’s killing innocent people, makes the content that much more eerie. Although he seems to hold affection for Otis’s sister, the audience can never be sure of what his intentions are. Otis’s desires, on the other hand, are much more clear. While Henry enjoys killing random people in a variety of ways, Otis seeks to sexually assault women, especially his sister. Henry reminds Otis throughout the film that she cannot be touched because she is his sister, but Otis is always trying anyway. It’s easy to understand why Becky has such a hard time seeing the killer inside Henry, when he has such good manners in front of her. Could she be the woman who turns Henry into a normal, loving husband? I don’t want to ruin anything, so you’ll just have to run to the nearest Blockbuster and find out!
For a movie with such a low budget of $125,000 this film is very well done. Suspenseful and shocking, this film will leave you looking over your shoulder constantly. Michael Rooker gives an astonishing performance as a serial killer who nonchalantly considers death a hobby of his. Tom Towles is great too, as that creepy relative you’ve always had to watch out for, gone too far. I would highly recommend this film to anyone brave enough to watch it. Just remember to check your rearview mirror when you leave the nearest video store. If the guy in the car behind you has a video camera, head to the police station.