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  1. I cannot believe it! I saw "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" when it was released in theaters in 1986 - right at the beginning of my "art-house theater period," when I was going to great lengths to expose myself to culture other than Del Taco. Or perhaps it was in 1990 after the rating changed (see below). By chance, I happened to look up Merle Dixon - one of the primary characters on "The Walking Dead" - and saw that his name was Michael Rooker. I didn't recognize the name, and like I usually do, I looked him up on Wikipedia, only to have my *jaw drop* when I saw that he was *Henry*! I couldn't (and still can't) believe it! I saw *Merle Dixon* thirty years ago in an art film! You just have no idea how shocked I am to find this out (I just found it out twenty minutes ago, and immediately rented the movie on Amazon). Warning: I remember "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" as one of the more violent, disturbing pictures I have ever seen, so even though it's an "art film," it's a no-holds-barred, well, it's a no-holds-barred portrait of a serial killer, so if you're disturbed by films such as "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover," you might want to stay away from this. This film was originally rated "X" for its sheer brutality, but that got changed to NC-17 when that rating was implemented in 1990, so ... fair warning. It was shot in less than one month with a budget of $110,000, and is widely (though not universally) critically acclaimed. Most importantly, it is *not* a slasher film despite its brutality. I just started the movie, and I can't believe I'm watching Merle Dixon at age 30! Damn! One of the first things I recall is that I remember "Henry" as being a somewhat diminutive man; whereas "Merle" is a large, imposing figure - in reality, Michael Rooker is 5'10", which will probably come as a surprise to viewers of The Walking Dead: They portray him very well as a bigger man (and someone who you would not want to mess with). About halfway into the movie now, and I'm having a bit of trouble separating Henry from Merle, but Michael Rooker is an *excellent* Henry. Unlike so many other films dealing with this type of subject, there's no offsetting humor, no laughs (not even dark laughs), no letup of the grungy lives being portrayed, no remorse or complexity of character (other than the obvious: Henry was most likely severely abused as a child, but the way he tells it, we're not entirely certain because his story has holes in it) - this film is just straightforward "portrayal," and it's because of that, that it seems so bone-chillingly real. These are people that, under no circumstances, would you want to try and "reform" or "help"; you'd just want to stay as far the hell away from them as you possibly could. Henry just "introduced" his prison friend Otis (Tom Towles) to murder, and from what I remember, Otis is going to begin enjoying it very shortly, There is seemingly a hint of honor in Henry sticking up for Otis's sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold), when Otis crosses the line in the way he touches her - Becky (who has just left an abusive husband) is quite taken by Henry, as the two have child abuse in common, and Henry, in turn, seems to be somewhat moved by Becky's fondness for him - so we're dealing with 99.5% evil; not quite 100% evil ... at least not yet. On the other hand, Otis is revealed to be a sociopath perhaps even more depraved than Henry (I know that sounds impossible, but it's true) - whereas Henry's "illness" is deeply ingrained in his soul, that of Otis is closer to the surface, and more obviously hedonistic and perverse - he is the type of person society needs to have eliminated at all costs (they both are, but Otis's newfound fetish is even more repulsive than Henry's psyche). I didn't exactly remember the ending, but close enough. This is one intense movie. This is considered a "psychological horror" film, and the psychology behind it lies in the fact that, while you're watching it in the confines of your living room, there are people out there - maybe right outside your house - just like Henry and Otis, who are going to commit another random murder that evening. Wherever you are in an urban area, there's probably a murderer within two miles of you - if that isn't terrifying, nothing is.
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