Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

The turkeys are out wandering the fields near my home, performing their dances for spring. It is time to hunt, and a time to sing a traditional Southern song:

Turkey Hunting 101
Shoot that bird trying to get him some
pump his head full of lead
Turkey Hunting 101

Why hunt turkeys? Because they make for a delicious sandwich? But, what if you were hunting something else? What if you were hunting ... people?! This is the story of Henry.
The most remarkable aspect of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer as compared to other horror films of the 70's and 80's is the title character's normality. Henry isn't a mask-wearing monster or a supernatural demon waiting to strike you in the darkness. He's a normal human being (with obvious mental and personality defects) and if he was walking down the street in broad daylight you could not tell him from anyone else.

Henry isn't the greatest movie, film-wise. It's obviously got a cheaper, more late night tv-movie type feel, which does provide a more realistic feel to it. Especially when Henry and Otis procure a video camera and film their murders. So there is a feeling that, yes, this happened in the 80's, and this is real. A lot of the murders are not shown at all. We hear the screams of the victim and are shown an image of their dead, mangled body.

And then there's the tragic heroine, Becky, who tries to change him for the better with her love. Henry does show signs of caring when he protects her from her brother Otis' attack. Becky goes away with him afterward because she loves him. She does not realize that no amount of love or fairytale magic will cure Henry of his severe psychological problems. She suffers the same fate that we all expect her to. Film gets a 6/10.

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