Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Though the title makes Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer seem like a cut-rate slasher flick, the film is actually one of the most disturbing and terrifying examinations of mass murderers ever filmed. Loosely based on the story of confessed murderer Henry Lee Lucas, the film follows Henry (Michael Rooker) as he selects innocent victims--occasionally with his roommate Otis (Tom Towles)--and kills them, capturing their murder on videotape. Many of these murders rank among the most brutal and violent ever portrayed on film. The violence and the clinical, detached portrayal of Henry and his… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"In a world in which eight nearly identical Friday the 13th movies offer the adventures of Jason the ax-murderer as entertainment for teen-agers, maybe we do need this sobering alternative."
‑ John Hartl, Seattle Times
"Sure, it's compelling; the nature of the material guarantees that. But it doesn't seem to be telling us much more than that the world is a scary place and murder is ugly. We knew those things. This is tabloid chic."
‑ Terrence Rafferty, New Yorker
"A powerful, original look at the hopeless urban underclass in the American city, where lost people nibble at the garbage of our culture -- in a kind of perverse application of the "trickle-down" theory -- hating themselves and us all the while."
‑ John Wooley, Tulsa World
"John McNaughton's direction has flashes of cinematic brilliance, but there's a disturbing lack of purpose to its clinically told and horrifyingly violent tale."
‑ David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
"The film is diabolically driven by Michael Rooker, who embodies the fractured, disconnected personality of Henry."
‑ R.L. Shaffer, IGN Movies
"The film is an honest and disturbing attempt to come to grips with the sort of modern horror that we must -- more urgently every day -- try to understand."
‑ Jay Boyar, Orlando Sentinel
"Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is as fine a film as it is a brutally disturbing one."
‑ Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times
"If you want a gore fix, this is it. If you're looking for a film with purpose, better wait until the bill changes."
‑ Lou Cedrone, Baltimore Sun
"A drama of vivid intensity, it has all the marks of a well-made, thoughtful film that does not exploit violence for its own sake or make killing a source of entertainment."
‑ Candice Russell, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"The flipside of the '80s teen slasher genre, John McNaughton's movie manages to go beyond the disquieting, distressing or even disturbing. It's downright dismaying."
‑ , Total Film
"The difference between John McNaughton's incredibly chilling film and the usual serving of screen carnage is the difference between the mind of a murderer and the cynical and manipulative depiction of mindless murder."
‑ Desmond Ryan, Philadelphia Inquirer
"McNaughton's direction combines a strict social realism with a cool, Fritz Langian sense of pre-determination, while his work with actors has the improvisational freshness of a John Cassavetes."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune
"McNaughton's rough, non-judgemental direction gives the film a stylishly chilling documentary feel, while the killer's use of a camcorder asks some challengingly uncomfortable questions about voyeurism and the nature of screen violence."
‑ John Ferguson, Radio Times
"This movie is not really about a killer, but about killing -- the way killing is depicted in the movies and the way movie audiences have been conditioned to react to such violence."
‑ Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News
"From a technical standpoint, Henry is amateurish. But ultimately it's not the gilded frame that made it a modern horror classic, but its unblinking portrait of a remorseless killer who stares back at the audience and forces them to turn away."
‑ Christopher Lloyd, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
More reviews for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer on Rotten Tomatoes