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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
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Popularity
4,524 ( 118)
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:

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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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

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

When the film was submitted to the MPAA and received an X rating, John McNaughton asked them what he could change to receive an R rating. The board members told him bluntly that there were no possible edits that would move the film out the X, and McNaughton decided on the spot he would not challenge the X, and would instead move for the film to be released, as it eventually was (unrated, with a disclaimer saying no one under 17 would be admitted to see it). See more »

Goofs

During the home invasion scene, the boy can be seen breathing after being killed. See more »

Quotes

Becky: Oh, wait, I got something to show you. Wait.
[Becky gets up from the table, exits to other room and comes back holding a white t-shirt with 'I love Chicago' printed over it]
Becky: Ta-da!
Henry: Nice.
Otis: Real nice. Put it on.
Becky: Right now? Ok, but turn around first... turn around.
[...]
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 2001, Universal Home Entertainment submitted a completely uncut version of the film for classification for home video release. The BBFC waived the 4 seconds cut from the murder of the TV salesman, and 61 of the 71 seconds from the family massacre scene (they refused to reinstate the 10 seconds of the scene where Otis molests the mother after she is dead). Additionally, they partly approved the 38 second shot of the dead woman on the toilet, but they demanded that the last 17 seconds of the shot be removed. Based upon this, Universal decided to remove the shot entirely. Total time cut from the film: 48 seconds. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Big Box: Silent Night, Deadly Night (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Fingers on It
Written by Chip Z'Nuff (as C. Z'Nuff) / Donnie Vie (as D. Vie)
Performed by Enuff Z'Nuff (as Enough Z'Nuff)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Harrowing and real.
1 January 2004 | by Skeptic459See all my reviews

The real Henry Lee Lucas had one of the worst childhoods that I have ever had the misfortune of reading about. Growing up in Texas, he lived with a family that was totally dysfunctional. He grew up in a shack, that had nothing more than a dirt floor. The father being a legless alcoholic, literally as well as figuratively. The mother worked as a prostitute. Henry was also forced into sexual activity with her clients. They forced him to dress as a girl and then would proceed to have sex with him. He was a child that grew up being raped.

He then grew up with such an intense rage that he became a serial killer. Are we surprised? Now, I am not trying to justify his behaviour. Rather, I am pointing out the fact that these people do not just fall out of the sky. There is no such thing as an inexplicable evil. That is, the person is just evil because they are. Yes, there seems to be some genetic evidence for psychopaths. However the majority do not become killers. The ones who become killers are made. If you are truly interested in what makes a psychopath, I suggest you read, 'Not Guilty by reason of Insanity ' by Dorothy Otnow Lewis. Serial killers are often portrayed as being like Hannibal Lecter. Smart and talented creatures that have suddenly lost their moral code. The truth is most are a psychological mess. Losers that are full of conflicting emotions. There is also strong evidence to suggest that these people are made by a specific form of brain damage. Basically when you combine trauma in childhood and frontal lobe brain damage, you end up with Henry.

This movie is what happens when people are treated in an utterly horrific way. Michael Rooker is excellent as a psychopath who seems normal but deep down harbours a psychotic rage against society. He and Otis travel around killing. Why? Why not? The pointlessness of their lives is perfectly captured. People complain about the lack of plot. I think it perfectly captures the plot. It shows the emptiness of these characters. In fact Henry and Otis feel nothing unless they are killing. The emotional side of the characters has been like killed off by previous abuses against them. They are not unlike the living dead. Even when Otis's sister shows some affection towards Henry he cannot reciprocate. He can't relate to people, he can only get off on torture and death. Yeah, this is shocking. But it is also incredibly sad.

Here in New Zealand there are many shocking drunk driving ads that they play to try and get people to stop this behaviour. I feel that this movie is like that. The movie is an ad for psychopaths, who they are and the dysfunctional psychological world that they inhabit. It is a film that honestly looks at these kinds of people. This certainly does not glorify these people, which is a criticism that has been levelled at the 'Silence of the Lambs' series. This is why I think it shocks people. The serial killer kills for visceral, physical pleasure. As Ted Bundy stated, 'I killed because I wanted to.' Maybe, this is where the film falls down. That the characters motivations are not explained well enough. But either way the viewer is given a shockingly realistic interpretation of a serial killers world.

Obviously this is a film that was made on a budget! But this just adds to the bleakness. In fact Chicago looks dirty, grimy and not like somewhere that you would visit. The performances of the rest of the cast are pretty average if not bad. So the film has some definite flaws. The exploitation factor is there. But then I think of films like Baise Moi and this film has nothing on that!

Overall I think this is an objective look at a world that those of us who come from normal backgrounds will find horrific. A world that we prefer would never exist, but however does exist. Maybe one day, as our society matures these people will cease to exist. Stories like these will become completely fictional. I really hope for that day. 7 out of 10.


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