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When I think about what scares me the most in horror, the answer comes rather quickly. What scares me are the things I don't see. The killer whose identity isn't revealed to the last five minutes, the monster who hides in the shadows dancing slyly in and out of the moonlight, and graphic aftermath of mayhem that is left to my (i.e the viewers) imagination. This final point is demonstrated so excellently in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. We never really see Henry in his full out glory, sure we see him kill some people very violently, but the real terror lies in the murders we don't see. Those we hear occurring in the background. IMHO the power of this film lies in that technique and I kinda find it a little fun that Henry was so controversial when it was first release.

This controversy wasn't based on the gore in the film, even thought we were lead to believe that, no it was because of the realism of the subject matter. I mean the story was based loosely on the confessions of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. Serial killers were just starting to becoming more and more identifiable. You had John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, and a little scrawny fellow from Milwaukee named Dahmer. Serial killers were turning out to be the guy next door and that scared the shit out of America and especially the MPAA (rating board). That's what scared me too.

Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer is an excellent case study in horror. I won't say that about it's serial killers angle, but its honest approach rather than campy ones of other slasher films put it heads and shoulders above the competition in this arena. "Rampage" by William Friedkin is another title that might fall into the same category of being brutally honest on this subject. Filming the movies from Henry's viewpoint, rather than from the victims' or the cops who are trying to track him down, was very original. Again, as always with my site, if you have anything that you can offer to improve this page, feel free to e-mail me.



Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Based on the life and killings of Henry Lee Lucas, famed American serial killer who now resides on death row in Texas.

"It's always the quiet ones". How many times have we heard this phrase used to describe a killer. Too often. Henry (Michael Rooker) is the boy next door who just can't get that taste for murder out of his mouth. It all started because he was an abused child. His mother was a whore who made him watch her having sex with other guys. She even made him wear dresses while laughing at him. Now that would screw up any little. No wonder he killed her.

When an animal taste human blood, it's hard to keep it from coming back for more. This could never be truer than with Henry. Henry leaves a trail of body behind him (evident in the opening montage of the film) as drifts into his new hunting ground. He later shacks up with a scumbag name Ottis, who he met in the slammer. There he meets and catches the eye of Otis sister, Becky.

Henry begins to show Ottis his murderous ways and he decides to come along for the ride. The mayhem that follows is some of the most disturbing, yet exhilarating stuff ever shot on celluloid. This film is a definite "must see" for any horror fan. Rent the film and see the real mind of a madman.


  • Great tagline, "HE'S NOT FREDDY, HE'S NOT JASON...HE'S REAL".

  • Henry was shoot in 28 days on a budget of $111K.

  • It was originally completed in 1986 (production took 4 weeks), but because of the controversy with the ratings board (MPAA) it didn't get released to video until 1989.

  • It was given a X-rating because of its' moral tone (it was just too damn real for most people).

  • Based loosely on the confession of convicted serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.

  • The director, co-writer, and much of the crew were all members of The Organic Theater in Chicago, which was formed by famed Re-Animator director, Stuart Gordon.

  • A total of 15 people were killed in the movie.

  • The idea for Henry came from a 20/20 report on serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.

  • Spawned a sequel, Henry: Mask of Sanity. It isn't anywhere as good as the original.

  • There is a very gruesome scene, shot on videotape, where Henry and Otis kill a family in their home. After filming the scene, the actor who plays the mother went into shock

  • The UK cinema version was cut by just under a minute, mainly of the killing of the family. A further minute of cuts were required for a video release, with some slight re-editing of the video watching scene by the BBFC causing most controversy.

  • The film won awards from the following film festivals: Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film, Catalonian International Film Festival, Sitges, Spain, and  Seattle International Film Festival.

Henry Lee Lucas died on Death Row of apparent heart failure on March 21st, 2001.



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Frightful Facts

Buy Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer 20th Anniversay Edition on DVD at

Buy The Silence of the Lambs on DVD at

Buy "The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers" at

Buy  Ted Bundy on DVD at

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