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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

USA 1986
produced by
Lisa Dedmond, Steven A. Jones, John McNaughton, Malik B. Ali (executive), Waleed B.Ali (executive) for Maljack Productions
directed by John McNaughton
starring Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold, Mary Demas, Anne Bartoletti, Elizabeth Kaden, Ted Kaden, Denise Sullivan, Anita Ores, Megan Ores, Cheri Jones, Monica Anne O'Malley, Bruce Quist, Erzsebet Sziky, David Katz, John Scafidi, Benjamen Passman, Flo Spink, Kurt Naebig, Kristin Finger, Lily Monkus, Ray Atherton, Eric Young, Rick Paul, Peter Van Wagner, Tom McKearn, Frank Coronado, Lisa Temple, Brian Graham, Sean Ores, Pamela Fox, Waleed B. Ali, Donna Dunlap
written by Richard Fire, John McNaughton, music by Ken Hale, Steven A.Jones, Robert McNaughton, special effects by Lee Ditkowski

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The seedy side of Chicago, the 1980's: Henry (Michael Rooker) likes killing people, he just does, ever since he has killed his mother, and most of his murders at least seem to be sexually motivated. Henry lives together with Otis (Tom Towles), an easy-to-impress redneck Henry has met in jail, whom Henry eventually lets in on his secret - that he is a serial killer - and Otis soon becomes Henry's willing accomplice, even though he's much less contained than the rather stoic Henry.

Eventually, Otis' sister Becky (Tracy Arnold) comes to live with them, as she has just run away from her abusive husband. It doesn't take long before she falls in love with Henry, without knowing about his secret obsession of course. After quite some time of romancing, Becky wants to get intimate with Henry, which is when he starts to panic slightly, and when Otis catches them in Henry's room, his sister half naked, Henry grabs the chance to make an escape and go for some cigarettes. When he returns though, Otis is in the middle of raping his sister, and the two men get into a fight which ends in Henry killing Otis in self defense.

Becky wants to call the cops, but given that Henry has already been in jail for matricide, he doesn't think that's such a good idea, and they decide to make a getaway together, to hide out at his sister's. On the way there, they spend a night in a motel ... and the next day, Henry, now traveling alone, drops a large bag, large enough to contain a human body, at the side of the road.


Truly powerful serial killer flick as it refuses to take sides and provide its audience with simple answers - and yet the film, very loosely based on real life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, is scary and disturbing as hell. Plus John McNaughton, who had to make this movie - his debut feature film - on a very low budget, knew how to make the best of the little he had got without making his film look shabby - and has turned out the best film of his career probably. In fact the lack of funds makes the film all the more authentic and realistic - which is not necessarily a good thing, but in this case it works. Add to this a wonderful central performance by Mcihael Rooker and able support by both Tom Towles and Tracy Arnold (who in some scenes seems to be begging to be killed to everyone who knows about Henry's favourite pastime), and you've got yourself a near-perfect film.



review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD