Directed by John McNaughton
Starring Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold
Forget Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger or Jason Vorhees: real killers such as John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer should illicit real fear in any person. They actually walked on this planet. So this film based on the real serial killer Henry Lee Lucas should be pretty scary, right? MPI Home Video recently released Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer on Blu Ray.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is loosely based on the confessions of the real Henry Lee Lucas, who confessed to over 600 murders, however law enforcement states that 350 is closer to the truth as Lucas was known to make confession statements to retract them days later.
As the film opens, Henry (Michael Rooker), is a drifter, spending his days eating greasy food and staring at people in restaurants and on the street. Only, he doesn’t just stop at gawking at people as the audience is witness to the outcome of Henry’s interaction with people: dead bodies pop up all over town.
Enter into Henry’s life Otis (Tom Towles). Otis and his sister Becky (Tracy Arnold) come to stay with Henry while they get settled after Otis’s recent release from prison. Otis and Henry know each other from previous stays in prison and the two quickly rekindle their friendship. Henry also notices Becky and the two have instant “chemistry”.
One night, Otis and Henry pick up prostitutes and after they have had their fun, Henry kills them, without remorse or much emotion. Otis, surprised at his level of interest in the goings on, joins in. Otis has found something that he has genuine enthusiasm for: killing and he and Henry soon are filling the listless hours with the sounds of screams and watching the life slowly ebb from their victims.
Thus, Otis and Henry begin their life of murder, delicately balancing their exploits with life at home with Becky as Henry’s feelings grow deeper for her. However, she does not know what he and Otis do when they are away from home.
When Becky announces that she is going to have to move, she confesses her feelings for Henry and he in turn admits he has feelings and the two depart together. Does Becky live until the end credits roll?
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer will not impress those looking for gore galore: this is an atmospheric and moody film about the man, not the handiwork of his knife. While we are not shown anything about Henry’s life prior to his killing sprees, it isn’t important. We see the man at the height of his cruelty and the apex of his insanity.
The performance by Michael Rooker as Henry Lee Lucas is phenomenal, as is the supporting performance by Tom Towles as Otis. They make this film tick and your skin crawl.
If you have heard about this film as it has become a cult classic, now is the time to discover this film with its arrival on Blu Ray.
The film is presented in 1080p high definition full screen, which was the original aspect ratio and was struck from the original 16mm negative. The overall transfer is respectable and I did notice that the detail level was impressive. This is a lower budget film so expect a bit of grittiness, but it serves the tone of the film well.
The film is presented in Linear PCM Stereo sound mix. The dialogue is crystal clear and mixed well. The creepy soundtrack is well presented.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The film is presented in a standard blu ray amaray case with a slight variation on the same art that has been used in previous DVD releases. Not bad but not fantastic eaither.
Some nice bonus features await your discovery on this release. Portrait: Making of Henry is a nicely detailed documentary about the making of the film, with interviews and never before seen photos and clips.
A feature length commentary with director John McNaughton is provided, as well as The Serial Killers: Henry Lee Lucas, a featurette that was made for the Serial Killers series that aired on TV and gives a chilling look at the life of this murderer.
The 1998 Interview with John McNaughton is provided and gives an insight into the horror films that gave inspiration to McNaughton during the production of the film.
There are Deleted Scenes and Outtakes from the film, as well as storyboards and the original theatrical trailer.
Overall (Not an average) 7.5/10
The Movie 7.5/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10