Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

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Avg Rating: 4.3 / 5. Voted: 54

No one cared thus far. Do you?

AKA:
Year: 1986
Directed by: John McNaughton
Starring: Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold
Country: USA
Language: English (Optional Eng subtitles)
Runtime: 01:22:16
Genres: Based on a True Story, Serial Killers, Snuff, Incest, Rape/Sexual Violence against Women, Siblings, Home Invasion

Plot – Spoilers:
A loose adaptation of the life of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer ponders over the period in Henry’s life when he partnered with Ottis Toole. The real Henry was convicted for 11 murders though at one point he claimed over 3000 victims.

Henry Lee Lucas mostly murdered women as a sort of retrospective getting-even with his prostitute mother who subjected him to a host of degrading acts as a child. In this movie version, certain creative liberties have been taken – for example, the character of Becky, Ottis’ sister, is loosely based on the real Ottis’ niece, Becky Powell.

Like irl, there are pointers in the movie to a homosexual relationship between Henry and Ottis, complemented by Henry’s discomfort whenever Becky makes advances on him. One thing’s clear though – unlike Ottis, Henry was more methodical and smart about his murders and knew where to draw the line to keep the cops at bay as long as possible.

Favourite Scenes:
1. Though Ottis rapes Becky later on, their first interaction after he picks her up is fun to watch and doesn’t suggest his perverse intentions.

However, during the scene where she changes into the ‘I Love Chicago’ t-shirt, you do wonder about their growing up years – her father regularly molested her and it is quite likely Ottis was aware or even witness to it. He also makes a joking reference to seeing her dance naked at home…

2. After Becky informs Henry of her decision to leave the city, their awkward make out session is interrupted by Ottis. Henry then steps out to pick up smokes and there is a marked difference in his behaviour. He just does regular things and even changes his mind about killing the old lady with the dog. At this point you feel, having someone who cares for him is perhaps like rehabilitation, albeit brief.

Though Henry soon murders Becky, she appears to be a victim of his methodical and don’t-give-the-cops-a-sniff approach rather than his serial nature.

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Ghoul
Ghoul
March 16, 2020 10:00 am

Such an artistic film, this ones been on my list for some time. And I must say you guys run an amazing site 🙂

Scoob
Scoob
May 19, 2020 8:51 am

fuck yeah finally in HD

notvcinema
notvcinema
September 5, 2020 6:35 am

It’s a good film, but they took a lot of creative liberties. Herny has only three confirmed kills, Becky Powell, Kate Rich, and his mother Viola Lucas. Ottis died in prison of cirrhosis in ’96.

Bisexual Redneck
Bisexual Redneck
October 18, 2020 5:57 am

This is a hell of a film. In fact, it just might be THE film that got me into “horror” (or psychological slasher horror at least).

OJ
OJ
January 21, 2021 10:04 am

Meh, The only fucked up thing about this movie was that they were smoking everywhere.

Matisse Famke
Matisse Famke
March 29, 2021 3:05 am

I thought by the ratings that this film may certainly leave a punch, but I wasn’t entirely captivated nor entertained. It’s rather mediocre and somewhat droll.

fred fat
fred fat
March 29, 2021 8:55 pm

the version i saw years ago had a number of images of women killed before we get to the woman lying in the grass at the start of the film – this has been censored

Vic
Vic
June 17, 2021 8:46 pm

This one is really good but I thought “Henry 2” was much better. Kai, Cricket, Louisa and Rooter are unforgettable.

FrankyTeardrop
FrankyTeardrop
August 1, 2021 9:09 am

repeatedly forgot it took place in chicago and got scared shitless when my neighborhood showed up in one of the shots. great selection eum thx as always ????

Bast
Bast
August 2, 2021 5:12 am

Otis looks like Martin Lawrence. 9/10

Headcheese
Headcheese
April 9, 2022 1:01 pm

i luv this movie

AfterAnon
AfterAnon
May 23, 2022 7:41 pm

I really like the 1986 Henry, although the 1996 Henry did very well.

Dr Harris
Dr Harris
May 23, 2022 9:57 pm

Wayyyyyy better than I remembered.. I am old as some of you may know… I actually seen this film on its release in a seedy old picture house in Liverpool.. it’s aged well…. Geniune performance

S.
S.
July 11, 2022 5:27 pm

My vote is 1 star, because there’s literally no adherency to the original story. Everything is different, even important things. I knew this was an adaptation with freedom, but kind of too much in my personal opinion.

t_m
t_m
July 11, 2022 5:40 pm

The movie itself isn’t bad if you don’t know the real life of Henry and Otis, but to me there are too many important things of their story and the reasons that pushed them to do what they did that has been left off or changed for it to be a good adaptation

Mr. mr.
Mr. mr.
November 22, 2022 9:04 am

I watched this twice in a row.