Henry - Portrait Of A Serial Killer [Uncut] [DVD]
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A highly controversial film that took several years to be released on video. Henry (Michael Rooker) works as an exterminator and murders strangers for fun. He lives with drug dealer Otis (Tom Towles) and Otis's sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold), who has moved in with them to escape her abusive husband. When Henry shows Otis the ins and outs of serial killing, Otis takes to it with enthusiasm.
Most horror films exist in a fantasy movie-world safely removed from our existence, populated by zombie-like killers and psychopathic madmen. The power of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is its chilling placement in the mundane existence of everyday life. Michael Rooker plays Henry not as a raving psychopath but as the frumpy guy next door, a drifter who takes out his frustrations on random victims and escalates his body count after teaming up with the violent ex-con Otis (Tom Towles). Though not exceedingly gory in light of the excesses of such fantasy horrors as the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series, director John McNaughton's straightforward presentation and documentary-like style creates a chilling realism that many viewers will find hard to watch. McNaughton neither comments on nor flinches at the brutal violence, which reaches its apex in a disturbing camcorder-eye view of a particularly sadistic murder of a middle-class couple, with Henry and Otis smiling through the deed as they record it for their continued pleasure. Henry straddles the line between True Crime (though fictional, the story was inspired by the confessions of real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas) and horror, a bleak, brutal kind of terror for a generation deadened by the escalating outrageousness of movie murders and nightly news crime scene clips. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
As to teh film, it is an excellent study of violence in films. The viewer is treated to a murder which is done in the "Hollywood" style. Henry and his cohort are set up as the heroes of the piece and kill a Bond-like villain. It is a comedic scene. Which makes the following murders all the more brutal as they are shot in a realistic and unpleasant way. The viewer is made to feel uncomfortable, we laughed at these guys before as they killed, now we want to look away.
Henry has lost none of it's power or intelligence over the years. As with "Peeping Tom" it raises questions of the viewer as to their motivations for watching, and responses to, the violence on show. The film has a grainy lo-fi edge that only adds to it's realism, but the cinematography is never less than stunning, as is the acting.
As it unfolds, the film becomes perhaps the definitive exploration of violence in American society. Henry's motivations as an extremely damaged product of a horrendous childhood are unflinchingly revealed in the intelligent and unsensational script, and we learn more than is comfortable about Ottis and Becky's family life. Dysfunctional families' roles in creating such warped humans has never been more brutally conveyed.
From a directorial point of view the variety of methods of depicting violence (from exploitative, almost comedic, gritty close-quarters grappling and gouging and ultimately horribly and skin-crawlingly sadistic in the infamous 'home invasion' sequence) is masterful, implicating the viewer in deeply uncomfortable ways in the mayhem, and it is a testament to McNaughton's skill that the whole holds together as well as it does.
This film is unlikely to please those seeking a slasher flick with a mounting bodycount, but is a fascinating study of repellent human beings (who have real emotional lives and interactions) for those seeking a cinema-verite journey to the heart of urban darkness. Henry is at once savage, frightening and deeply sad as an unflinching depiction of the lowest level of American society, the adult children of brutal messed-up families.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had this film on my "i want to see this" list. I shouldn't have bothered, and if I could, I would ask for my money back. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ruth
To see by the eyes of a cerial killer that's what this movie is all about!Published 2 months ago by Bennny boy
The story is boring if you want gorgeous people running from psychos and it's quite dated....
However if you're into true crime it's a fascinating film as it doesn't shy... Read more
The word ‘Portrait’ in the title is a bit of a misnomer. Henry: A Day in the Life of a Serial Killer might have been more appropriate. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Eddie
I'm so disappointed.
I received this dvd yesterday and just settled in to watch it. And it turns out that the COVER is correct but the DISC IS WRONG !!! It says 'Henry. Read more