in Shocktober

Shocktober: Day 27

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990)

Dir: John McNaughton
Cast: Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold

There’s hundreds of serial killer movies out there but you’d be hard pressed to find one that’s more disturbing and realistic than Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. A controversial indie thriller based on the crimes of the real murderer Henry Lee Lucas, Henry is significantly scarier than any Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. This as a real a portrayal of malevolent violence as you’ll ever see on the screen.

Henry (played marvelously by Michael Rooker) is a quiet, cold man who enjoys killing people, most notably his own mother. Living with his equally disturbed roommate Otis (Tom Towles) things get awkward when Otis’ sister moves in. It’s not long after this Henry introduces Otis to his way of life and soon enough the two begin to indulge on a spree of sorts, what follows is simply chaos.

This film was no stranger to controversy when repeated disagreements with the MPAA held it back from release. Technically Henry was complete by 1986 but it’s content made it a hard sell until it finally achieved a limited release in 1990. What happened when it did finally surface? Critical acclaim and a cult following, just goes to show that the MPAA knows nothing. This isn’t just another slasher it’s actually closer to a brooding drama with it’s complex emotions and excellent performances, check it out if you’re feeling brave.