Thursday, 25 August 2011


After my long absence (i.e, watching 90+ back-to-back episodes of PRISONER: CELL BLOCK H with only another 600 to go) I thought I'd return to review a much maligned sequel to one of the best 'Horror' movies ever made. HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER 2 - MASK OF SANITY (Phew...what a mouthful!) has it's flaws (notably no Michael Rooker) but holds up well to it's predecessor, and retains the same 'downbeat' tone. Plus it manages the rare feat of having a rape sequence that gets right under my skin (more on that in a while)

After many shots of murdered victims (indicating that our 'hero' is still keeping active) we see Henry drag a woman into the woods, before killing her as she tries to escape. Given Henry's 'passtime', it's understandable that he has no regular address...therefore he frequents various soup kitchens and homeless shelters. During one visit, a derranged looking pervert, takes a shine to Henry, at the dinner table. Henry ignores him.

("Your carboard box or mine?")

Later in the sleep shelter, the creepy guy lays in the opposite bunk, inviting Henry to watch him whack off ("hey boy....Looky here") Henry turns around (probably not advisable, given his admirers intentions) Undeterred, the pervert casually rapes a older bum in the opposite bunk that Henry is facing. Henry just lays there (as do the other homeless folk) as the old victim screams out for help. This scene freaks me out. It's not particularly realistic (although I'm no expert on 'Gay-Rape'.... despite living in Middlesbrough) It's the hopelessness of it all. Henry (or anyone else) could easily intervene....but no-one does. Henry again, turns his back on the screaming victim and the rapist pervert. Maybe, Henry (a psycho himself) understands that the pervert is just doing his thing, and any intervention would be hypocritical?

(What the fuck?)

Leaving the shelter, Henry goes looking for work, and soon finds employment at a 'Portable-Toilet' delivery yard. He soon makes friends with co-worker Kai (and his wife 'Cricket') but seems wary of the ever-grinning sleazeball manager 'Rooter'. Kai and Cricket invite Henry to move into their spare room (until he gets on his feet, money-wise) And despite his (seemingly) timid nature, Henry forms a semblance of normality with his new housemates. Cricket's niece (the troubled) Louisa, takes a shine to Henry, and sees in him a fellow kindred spirit.

Louisa's 'attachment' to Henry is strengthened, when Henry saves her from bullying neighbourhood kids, that taunt her 'mental stability' Henry manhandles her young tormentors, who vow to "Tell their daddy" and low and behold, later that night...The young Hoodlums family arrive on Kai's doorstep, baying for blood (and trading foul-mouthed expletives at each other, in easily the movies funniest sequence)

("Tell me where this guy is, or I'm gonna start busting heads!")

Henry sneaks a peak in Kai's basement to find a stack of alarm clocks and a book labelled 'Incendiary Devices' (a red-hot read, I'll wager) before he can put two and two together, Kai confronts him, and proceeds to explain his 'after-hours' work as a 'fire-bomber' for insurance claims. Kai brings Henry into the business, and the two men set off to set a controlled inferno at a warehouse. With petrol bombs set to ignite, Henry hears a noise, and uncovers two homeless guys sleeping rough in the warehouse. Pulling out a revolver (which shocks even Kai) Henry ties up the two guys, puts them in the trunk of his car, and drives away before the warehouse is engulfed in flames (I don't know why he didn't leave them there to burn, truth be told?) Henry now plans to bring Kai into HIS 'after-hours' insisting to Kai, that they shoot a homeless guy each. What's worse is, Kai seems to enjoy it....

(watt the fuck?)

Many more 'firebomb' (not to mention, portable shitter) jobs ensure, and 'arsonist-in-command' Rooter (already on Henry's shit list) incurs further wrath, when he jokingly states "Fuck up, and I'll kill ya" to our lovable serial killer. Later that night Henry (pissed off that Kai has spilt the beans to Rooter) teaches his landlord a brutal lesson in 'Shut-your-fucking-mouth'ness' by randomly killing another homeless guy (who had the Gaul to try clean his windscreen) This freaks Kai out, but he's too far into it to back out now.

(Henry: Portrait of a fucked up horse)

Louisa tries to bond with Henry (boy, can she pick em') with examples of her morose artwork (i.e, a lot of sub-par 'goth figures impaled on scythes' bullshit) which leads to Henry putting pencil to paper (resulting in a bizarre, yet strangely touching picture of a horse) Referred to as "Rocks" as it was a horse Henry had as a child, that only ate rocks (don't ask) This leads to a conversation about suicide, between our two 'would-be' starlets (as you do) Louisa looks determined to take 'it' to the next level with Henry, but (luckily for her) Henry makes his excuses an leaves.

Kai is set upon by the disgrunted father (plus two of his buddies) from earlier, who proceed to give Kai the 'Ike Turner' treatment. Battered, bruised (and feeling not quite a 'Real' man) Kai confides to Henry that he'd like to (quote) "Get all those bastards, burn all their fuckin' houses down") to a dissinterested Henry. In fact, our pint-sized serial killer suggests that Kai get revenge, by killing some random guy at the spare of the moment. And pulling up at a gas station, the two men do just that. Kai kicks the shit out of a hapless mechanic, before stabbing him, and Henry finishes him off by slitting his throat.

Despite his reservations, murdering a bunch of winos works wonders for Kai's flagging marriage to Cricket, as it seems to increase his libido (which in turn, disgusts Henry) Armed with a revived sexlife, and wanting to protect her (already obsessed) neice, Cricket wants Henry to move out, and tells Kai to turf him out. Henry (surprisingly) agrees, but suggests that they both go out for one last night of fun. Which means breaking into the house of an elderly couple (decapitating the male, suffocating the woman) This is the final straw for Kai (fucking hypocrite he is) and afterwards the two men come to blows (with Henry getting the upper hand)


A (now besotted) Louisa attempts to woo Henry, who rejects her...causing our disturbed heroine to call him (quote) "A fucking fag" before threatening to (quote) "Blow my own fucking brains out" Henry flees, but a distraught Louisa rummages through Kai's kit-bag and finds his revolver. Meanwhile Henry, Kai and Cricket attend a party at Rooters house. Rooter mocks the fact that both men have been fighting each other (casting further aspersions on their sexuality) and then proceedes to make matters 16 times fucking worse by spiking Henry's beer with LSD (bad idea) Henry returns later on, and repays the favour by 'spiking' Rooters nose (with a big-ass screwdriver) Kai witnesses this, and helps Henry cut up Rooters corpse (and even offing a bystander that's snooping around)

With the corpses bagged and burnt, Henry returns home with Kai (and cricket) to find a hysteric Louisa, with a gun barrel to her head. Despite the pleas of the trio, Lousia blows her brains out. This upsets Henry enough, to make him realise that now is the time to 'move on'. But not before he shoots both Kai and Cricket. Dumping all three bodies in the basement (and utilizing the arsonist skills his friend taught him) Henry douses the house in petrol (caring little that Kai is still alive) and throws a flare into the house.

Henry drives off, the house explodes, the titles roll.

HENRY PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER 2 is probably hated by about 95% of Gods-blue-and-green-misery-orb. Despite it's lead actor being at least foot shorter than Michael Rooker (and resembling the love-child of Art Hindle and John Heard) the movie is filled with enough sleazy offbeat carnage to please fans willing to overlook the absence of original star and director. It retains the gritty, urban feel of it's predecessor (plus touches of offeat black humour) The murders are a little more gruesome, but just as upsetting. Neil Giuntoli aquits himself well and convinces in the quieter scenes as well as the 'bat-shit' sequences. The other actors (no academy favourites amongst them) play their roles well enough. Cricket (Kate Walsh) has clearly been to the Gaylen Ross school of acting (which is no bad thing in a movie as nihilstic as this) Whilst Rich Komenich (bearing an uncanny resemblance to Jeffery Dean Morgan in WATCHMEN....albeit in the 'Comedians' later, washed up years) certainly doesn't phone it in either as Kai, the slightly pathetic arsonist, murderer and impotent redneck anti-villain.

(Salvation Barmy)

Director Chuck Parello seems to have a thing for serial killers. He directed the (dire) ED GEIN in 2000...before redeeming himself with in 2004 the (insanely hilarious) HILLSIDE STRANGLERS (starring C. Thomas Howell and Nicolas Turturro) which would make a great double-bill. I would advise anyone not familiar with these two movies to seek them out. And as great as the John McNaughton 'HENRY' is, this sequel is a lot better than it has any right to be (plus a must for lovers of low rent, high sleaze urban horror movies)

Memorable quote:

Kai "Son of a fucking bitch"