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Monday, February 20, 2012

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Henry is billed as "One of the 20 scariest movies of all time."  Seriously?  The Exorcist? Check.  Last House on the Left?  You betcha!  Psycho?  A classic scare.  However, more than half of Henry merely plods along...until he gets a video camera.  All the early kills are artistically posed like mannequins with the sound of the actual murder in the background.  It's an interesting filming technique but hardly scary.
Granted, once Henry and Otis get a video camera, things get much darker as they enjoy, not only torturing and murdering people but also viewing it again and again afterward.  That's a very disturbing thought, indeed, but it makes you feel more sick in your stomach rather than sacred.  Any one else out there agree?
Henry is based on the true story of serial killer Henry Lee Lukas.  This always ups the creep factor in any movie, but for my money Ed Gein trumps Lukas in a heartbeat in the serial killer department.  If you like this kind of movie, definitely check out Deranged (1974) which is way creepier and disturbing in my opinion.
Still, Henry is a good movie.  Michael Rooker is in good form as Henry.  He's always been a solid actor and delivers the goods in movies time and time again.  Rooker's portrayal of Lukas is a man with anger issues and absolutely no remorse for the people he murders.  He seems to do this for sport and amusement which is a pretty disturbing thought, indeed.  It's hard to imagine, though, that the real Lukas was not more menacing than Rooker portrays him.  However, I have no knowledge of the real serial killer so I can't say so for certain.
At times, this film feels more like a documentary to me than a real creeper.  If I didn't know the year it was filmed I would have guessed the 1970's instead of the 1980's.  It has an old school quality to it which is neither good nor bad.  It just is.
All in all, Henry, is a solid film but it would hardly make my list of the top 20 scariest films I've seen.  I guess you'll have to watch it and decide for yourself.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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