Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
directed by John McNaughton
(MPI, 1986)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is not a normal movie. It's an abnormal movie. You've seen more blood, more sadism, more sickness in a lot of horror films, but this approaches the subject of serial murder matter of fact. Here's this sick guy. He kills. He enlists his cousin. They kill together. He tries to explain why he does, and sounds like any other loser.

Michael Rooker deserves a lot of credit for taking on this thankless role. It's hard to think of actors as brave people, but he is.

Baroque horror movies featuring the likes of Hannibal Lecter, Freddie or Jason are so bogus. This is the real deal. It's based on the killing career of Henry Lee Lucas.

People like this pass all understanding. They just are. If you want an insight into what they are, Henry is a pretty good introduction. But the insight is limited. Who really knows?

This is not a movie. It's a document. It says, Here it is. Take what you want from it. As such, it's impressive, down to the final, awful scene.

No education here. Awful childhoods turn kids into sickos. Like, who knew?

But, on some level, the document is important. Someone had the courage to show us the outcome. Give them credit.

Anyone intrigued by this movie should read By Reason of Insanity by Shane Stevens. It's a serial killer novel that explores the "why" in much more detail. These people exist, dudes. All we can do is keep a lookout.

At least these events are rare.

review by
Dave Sturm

12 September 2009

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