Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
By Marcus Pan
Nicknamed "The Confession Killer" by the media, Henry Lee Lucas
was one of the rudest, craziest and outright deadliest serial murderers the
country has ever known. He's featured on the DVD documentary The Serial
Killers(1), and now he's got his own movie in the biographical Henry:
Portrait of a Serial Killer.
Within 5 minutes of the film I counted five dead bodies, one
a brutal and gruesome death by beer bottle to the face in a bathroom. Right
from the outset there's blood everywhere and I'm wondering 10 minutes in if
Henry has blown it's proverbial wad before I've reached satisfaction yet. It's
rare when a film can open this powerfully and maintain itself for the over 80
minutes of its run.
The film focuses on the period of time when Henry (Michael
Rooker) and Otis (Tom Towles) terrorized the streets of Chicago. Henry takes
Otis under his wing as a teacher does to a pupil and shows him how to elude the
police by never striking in the same place, using the same methods or for the
Otis' little sister Becky (Tracy Arnold) joins the duo in
their apartment, unknowing of their diabolical acts elsewhere, and takes a
shine to the disturbed Henry. A scuffle in the three roommate's apartment ends
with Otis' death, Becky and Henry thereafter leaving together. A great climax
during this confrontation whets your appetite for more mayhem to come, but the
film abruptly ends leaving you wanting more after such a riveting scene.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was filmed in
under a month with direction by John McNaughton in 1985. Upon its release it
has won acclaim and listings across the country. Rooker's performance is eerie
and dark and Tracy Arnold's performance as Becky is brilliantly done, creating
a bright but disturbed creature in the form of a lost little girl looking for
anything even remotely safe to cling to.
The DVD re-release by Dark Sky is the 20th anniversary of
the movie's creation and comes boxed with two CDs containing the movie itself,
theatrical trailer, photo section and the making of the movie documentary as
well. Well put together by Dark Sky Entertainment, it gives a brief, theatrical
tale of some of Lucas' Chicago area murders and life.
Dark Sky Films
Post: MPI Media Group, 16101 S 108th Ave., Orland Park, IL, 60467,
(1) Reviewed previously in
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