Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

| September 4, 2005

Dark Sky Films has released the new 20th Anniversary Special Edition of “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” and this DVD is loaded full of evil extras. “Henry” is the low budget directorial debut by Chicago native John McNaughton (Mad Dog and Glory, Wild Things). This super low budget indie feature was filmed in 1985, in Chicago, shot in 28 days on 16mm for around $100,000.00 and released upon the public the following year. Critics were supportive of the films documentary style and gritty storytelling. Audiences were scared out of their minds. “Henry” received an “X” rating from the MPAA. Maljack Productions released the film unrated and filed the first-ever lawsuit against the MPAA, citing discrimination. Because of “Henry” and other films that were intended for a mature audience the MPAA established the NC-17 rating in 1990.
Henry, played to perfection by Michael Rooker (Cliffhanger, Mallrats) is the story of a drifter who moves in with his former jail-mate, Otis (Tom Towles). Henry is a serial killer. In Otis he finds a willing pupil and they go on a killing spree constantly moving and changing the way in which they kill to elude police. Enter Otis’s sister Becky (Tracy Arnold), a former topless dancer who moves in with them in hopes of starting a new life. Becky falls in love with Henry and this creates quite the problem in Henry and Otis’s “killing relationship”. This story is simple, intriguing and disturbing. The method is realistic and shocking. Henry could be anyone, your neighbor, an acquaintance, the mail- man, but in reality he is a cold-blooded killer.
The “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” DVD comes with 2 discs, over 100 minutes of bonus material, deleted scenes, outtakes and a 52 minute documentary on the making of Henry, plus too many other extras to list. This is one of the best DVD releases I’ve seen especially for a tiny budget cult film. Good stuff from Dark Sky Films.
Here’s the Bottom Line:
Henry is a great little horror film, one of the best and would be on most horror fans top 25 lists. John McNaughton uses a 16mm camera and a zoom lens to pull off the gritty doc feel of the movie and probably to move the camera around on such small sets. Michael Rooker is so good in this film. His performance is cold and unpredictable. Go right now and see this film if you haven’t. Nuff said.

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