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A movie is filmed in 1986 but is not released until 1990. The reason for this, the MPAA told the film makers there was no way to edit the film to give it an R rating so it was given an X rating. Upon its ultimate release it was considered UR or unrated. I guess it could be classified as a psychological slasher docudrama. It is dreadfully uncomfortable to watch and makes you wonder at times if maybe it is actually a documentary; some things just seem too real. Typically a serial killer film has three major components. The killer, the victims and some sort of law enforcement personnel. This movie only has two of these components, the killer and the victims. The movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

Disturbing, strange, and the next day when you are getting your morning coffee on the way to work you will cast strange glares at the people around you. This will happen subconsciously and when you catch yourself doing it all you will be think is, “Is that person a serial killer? How can I be sure they are not? Nah. Well maybe?” It happens every time I watch this movie. I see this as a major accomplishment for the creators of this film.

Henry and his prison buddy Otis bum around Chicago with Otis’s sister Becky. In the first killing with Henry and Otis together, Henry kills two prostitutes in front of Otis. Once the act is complete Otis starts to worry that the police may catch them once back at their apartment. Henry goes on explaining his philosophy on life and why he commits such gruesome acts. It essentially comes down to the world is “them or us.” Henry and Otis then embark on a killing spree, during this whole time Henry explains to Otis how every murder should be different and you should never operate in the same area for too long. So that by the time the police realize they are looking for a serial killer you can be long gone. There is a scene in this part of the movie that I do not want to spoil; you will know it when you see it. So, Becky decides that she wants to go back home to her daughter and during this time tension is starting to build between Henry and Otis. Becky makes advances on Henry and being the deranged person that he is he gets flustered when Otis walks in on them. Henry leaves the apartment to get some smokes. At this point Otis makes some life changing decisions involving him and Becky, it is messed up, Henry and Otis get in a scuffle Becky lashes out at Otis and Henry finishes the job. I really do not want to spoil the end of this film so from here on out to know what happens you have to watch it for yourself.
Henry and Otis

Henry is played by Michael Rooker, he was in some big tv show with zombies and some other movie about defending a galaxy or something. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was his first movie roll and he is brilliant in it. There really is not an over bearing amounts of violence in this film though it does have its share. The way the violence is presented is in such a mannerer that you witness the action and are left to deal with it and sort it out yourself. There is no true morality to the situation. Violence is neither glorified nor denounced, it is simply shown. I guess that is the film maker’s way of trying to get the viewer in to the mind of a serial killer. One thing about this movie you should know going in, do not look for a plotline or much in the way of character development. This movie really portrays it’s self as a “here it is, deal with it” film. It is currently available on Netflix Streaming and Amazon Instant Video. Best of luck.

image source: [Henry][Henry and Otis]