Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: anytime Henry or Otis drinks a beer.

Take a Drink: for each murder.

Drink a Shot: if you catch yourself laughing, and realize how truly F-ed up that is.

Drink a Shot: for each rock and roll song playing on the radio.

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –

Henry (Michael Rooker) is a working-class everyman living with his friend Otis (Tom Towles) and Otis’ sister Becky (Tracy Arnold).  In case the title didn’t give it away, he is also a killer.  *shock*

Henry loves to kill people, particularly women, and he begins to groom Otis to help him make bigger and more substantial kills. Henry begins to develop some feelings for Becky, which starts to wear on his relationship with Otis as their killing spree continues.

Eat your heart out Jack Thompson

A Toast

Shot on just over $100,000.00, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a triumph of low-budget filmmaking. Director John McNaughton paints a gloomy image of 1980s Chicago, as a working-class slum full of crime and the unpunished.  Most serial killer films feature police investigation, but the director has zero interest in exploring this aspect.  The movie is not interested in depicting Henry as a savage, or at giving him any empathy.  Gone is the overcharged “slasher” element which so many contemporary horror films possessed. Instead, Henry is a dark and brooding character study, given life by actor Michael Rooker.

Rooker’s performance is nothing short of a marvel; not an over the top and calculating madman like Christian Bale in American Psycho or Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.  Instead, Henry is a simple everyman, who drinks Old Style Beer and watches network television.  When driven to anger, Henry can lash out viciously, but he never appears to sexualize his compulsions.  The act of murder is his only carnal need.  Rooker is a versatile actor, but this early role of his is undoubtedly the one he’ll be best remembered for.

Though he was pretty much the only thing The Walking Dead had going for it...
Though he was pretty much the only thing The Walking Dead had going for it…

Beer Two

Less patient audiences may be turned off by the heavily stylized performances and matter-of-fact presentation of the film, which was definitely shot on a very low budget.  Elements of the movie have aged, entrenching the film’s feel firmly in the 1980s. The soundtrack is full of pulsating synthesizer and the dialogue ranges widely in terms of believability. Fans of grungy grindhouse cinema should find more to appreciate from these elements, and not see them as flaws.

Chances are, if you own this collection you are in the right target market.
Chances are, if you own this collection you are in the right target market.

Verdict

A truly “80s” journey into the psychological heart of darkness, brought to you by Old Style Beer, crummy T-Shirts, and crumbling apartments.  More Michael Rooker than the casual fan can likely handle.

2Beers

About Oberst von Berauscht

Oberst Von Berauscht once retained the services of a Gypsy to imbue in him the ability to accurately describe the artistic qualities of a film up to seven decimal points. To maintain this unique skill, he must feast on the blood of a virgin every Harvest Moon, or failing that (and he usually does), he can also make a dog do that thing they do where they twist their heads slightly (you know, when they're confused about something) at least a few times a week. I've gotten way off track here... The point is, Oberst is one of the website's founders, so... yeah

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