Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Horror of 1986 / Horror of the 80's / Top 100

11th film watched for my official 2014 Halloween season horror movie MegaBash (still not following the order I set for it yet)

The ultimate anti-exploitation film. Anti-glamorous. Though not entirely anti-humorous. A film like this, which gives you every kind of reaction, is extremely rare. And I've seen this 3 times so far but... not like this. Fan off, bass cranked- and this has some amazingly powerful bass for a mono soundtrack. It's never been this raw before. Even the dialogue (especially from Tom Towles) pierces through the screen and shakes you. This is a genuinely disturbing film, because it shows the different modes of personality for its band of killers. Without really trying to cite environment or economy as the explanation for the violence that erupts onscreen, we watch 3 people completely transform before our eyes and turn from caring and supportive to unbelievable savagery. Against each other, which is even more eye-opening than the film's infamous home invasion scene. That it happens so matter-of-factly is what makes the characters so deep. Because, honestly, before we see Otis start to huff with fury, Becky start to patiently unravel, and Henry utterly descend into his own confused tortured memories, the film seemed to be gassing the car up on twisted jokes. And, truth: Otis is a very funny guy. ("Yeah- the Queen of Clubs!" "You think Leroy's hungry?" after a clearly bruised Becky says she doesn't want to hear about Leroy anymore. Like I said- it's twisted.)

This is not just a "life of a killer" movie, it's the lives of all 3 people who make up each other's surrogate family (nothing ends the sibling bond of loyalty faster than incestuous rape). In a way, especially since Becky puts out her own brother's eye, this is the proto-Devil's Rejects. And I'll be damned if it isn't a thousand times better, smarter, darker, more interesting, more arresting, and almost heart-breaking. Never before did I feel so bad for Becky or, again the truth, want to feel something for Henry and Otis. There's no excuse for that impulse but the film really makes all the characters feel human. Well, except for the guy at the video warehouse. But, hey, fat people can be snobs too. Just look at Maniac- they're not all jolly and kind. More than any film I've ever seen, Henry feels like real people doing horrible things. The neighborhoods look like they could be any town in the entire U.S. The stores, the houses, the high schools, the gas stations, the streets (for a film that announces more than once that it's Chicago) really do look like the same ones in the towns surrounding the one I grew up in (nowhere near Chicago). Then, watching these people do these things to this soundtrack / score... it's another one of those experiences you have to have as a horror fan. You must see this again. It's better than you remember it.

To: The Evil Dead, The Shining, An American Werewolf in London, The Thing, Hellraiser, Poltergeist, The Howling, The Fog, Bad Taste, Opera, Inferno, Creepshow, Gremlins, Evil Dead II, The Fly, Killer Klowns from Outer Space

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