Saturday, March 24, 2012

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

I know I watched this movie a few years back, but I never got around to writing a review about it, and it mostly faded out of my head.  I met both Michael Rooker and Tom Towles at a convention a couple of weeks back, and it had totally gone over my head that they were BOTH in this movie.  Yipee!  This movie was made 25 years ago and both Henry (Rooker) and Otis (Towles) look so young!!  The other main character is Becky (Tracy Arnold), Otis's sister who has come to live with the two men after a divorce. 

Henry, based loosely on the life (and elaborate fantasies) of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, was shot on 16mm film for $110K.  Family, friends, and personal possessions were used in the movie to cut down on production costs.  You could catch up on the history, and the similarities between movie and real life on the Wikipedia or IMDB page, but what stood out to me randomly was that Henry Lee Lucas was friends (and lovers) with drifter and male prostitute Ottis Toole, also known as the killer of Adam Walsh.  Obviously, the Otis character in the film is named after this fact.

Henry is about a guy-next-door type serial killer, who appears to live a quiet and mild-mannered life as an exterminator, but actually murders people on a regular basis.  Henry and Becky become fast friends and share stories of their abusive childhoods, of which Henry's ended in the murder of his mother.  Henry becomes quite protective of Becky, especially from her pervy brother, and she becomes increasingly flirtatious.

The two men go out one night and solicit two prostitutes, eventually killing them.  Neither seem to show any remorse, although Otis does fear getting caught by police.  The men continue to kill together, switching up their killing methods so that police cannot find a pattern.  After going out for cigarettes, Henry returns home to find Otis raping his sister Becky.  This does not please him, and they get into a fight, with Becky eventually attacking Otis.  I would have liked this movie to end in a Bonnie and Clyde-type thing, but I think it's clear from the beginning that Henry has a one-track mind and not much of a romantic interest in any woman, nonetheless Becky. 

This movie is good, but I don't feel like I worship it the way that other people do.  It has five stars on Netflix, which is fairly unheard of in the horror genre, but I could name a good list of movies that I think are better than this one.  That said, Rooker is badass as per usual, and it is a good movie overall, with a solid plot, good acting, and decent effects, especially for the budget.  Henry is good with or without the background story of an actual serial killer.  Definitely a genre classic.