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(Review originally written at 9 December 2007)

For these type of serial killer movies you never need a budget worth millions of dollars to let it work out. Often a shoe-string budget work out the best for this type its movies, because it contributes to the movie its unpleasant atmosphere. You can say that in these type of movies the amateurism and simplicity all adds to the creativity and overall effectiveness of the movie. The best known example of this is the original first "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre", from 1978.

This movie is far less known and also isn't blessed with such a great title. The title of this movie somewhat sounds something like a based on true-events TV movie, without any graphic images. But don't be fooled, for "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" is filled with graphic violence and other disturbing moments.

The movie feels and breaths an '70's atmosphere. Also the overall style of the movie is very '70's like, in a gritty, dark and very straightforward type of way. It also of course helps that the movie at times uses 'home-video' movie, in which we get to see the killings/rapes from the perpetrators perspective alone.

It isn't a movie that has a true beginning or ending, in terms of having a conclusion that puts an end to things. It has instead now got one of the best possible endings thinkable, that is shocking, unexpected and satisfying even though it doesn't put a definitive end to things.

The real story of Henry Lee Lucas is even more shocking and disturbing but also a lot longer and more complicated of course. It's far too much to put in a movie and then prevent it from getting ever overlong or starts repeating itself and remain original. This movie obviously had to make some choices and even decided to not only exclude a lot but also to change and add certain elements, which all strengthens the story in this case. The story might seem very simple at first sight now but is's perhaps the very same simplicity that makes the movie so great- and let things work out in it so effectively. It makes some great choices with its story and build up, that seem simple but are all thought out and constructed cleverly.

The movie features the then still unknown Michael Rooker in one of his earliest roles. None of the actors are that impressive within this movie, which gives Michael Rooker all the more room to shine in his role. He plays a great two faced character, that can be both kind and sort of shy as well as ruthless. He does this very convincingly within the movie.

But it are the graphic killings within the movie that makes this a really watchable one. It doesn't show all the killings how they happened but only just a few, which makes the impact of them work out all the more and adds to the reason why this movie is regarded by many as one of the most shocking one's.

A great and effectively shocking movie within its genre.

9/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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