Henry Lee Lucas plays mentor to his bumbling friend, Otis, in this notorious and terrifying 80′s horror film based on the real life of Lucas. Disturbing and powerful, this film paints the chilling portrait of a man swallowed by his own darkness.
Written by: Richard Fire & John Mcnaughton
Directed by: John Mcnaughton
Starring: Micheal Rooker, Tom Towles, and Tracy Arnold
I haven’t seen this one since the early 90′s and even after all this time, Henry remains one of the most chilling and deeply disturbing films ever made. Based on the real Henry Lee Lucas, a prolific serial killer who claims responsibility for nearly 600 murders in his “career”. Once caught and convicted, George W. Bush (a different kind of monster) commuted Lucas’ potential death sentence to life in prison where he died in 2001. This film captures a small segment of Henry’s life in Illinois where he takes his prison friend, Otis Tool, under his wing while falling more and more for Otis’ down-on-her-luck sister.
The opening moments of the film show us slow, intentional shots of the victims deaths. The grisly scenes are amplified to a horrific level through the disembodied and muted screams played low in the audio. The deaths are brutal – this isn’t going to be a standard horror yarn; this is all based on fact. This film was the next parallel step from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to my teenage film posse. The film obviously carries much more weight now that I’m older.
Henry is an engulfing study of relationships. Otis and Henry argue over the gruesome and mundane like an old married couple, adding some overwhelming human moments to the film. Rooker (The Walking Dead, Slither), delivers a standout performance as the long-troubled killer. I believed he was Lucas at times. If you don’t know about Lucas, this film is a great starting point. There is absolutely no moral resolution in the end. No one is older and wiser for their choices and actions; it’s sheer abysmal trauma. Personally, I loved the movie and the disconnected feeling the ending invoked in me. This is a film for fans of horror, drama, and true crime. It’s not to be missed, but be warned – this is a dark film.