Directed by: John McNaughton / 1986
Some bits of entertainment and art are born breaking new ground in their respective field(s) and/or making major splashes in the pool halls of popularity and culture. However, few rarely keep their cool and crisp freshness after their immediate impact, at least to me. I respect the classics and I honor those that tread new water and open new doors, and some things do indeed remain masterpieces decades later. However, I can’t help but think that some things need to halt from the hype after their 15 minutes of fame (or is it seconds now?) is up. An example is to paraphrase critical praise from 1986 of the movie I watched yesterday morning, “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a masterpiece of modern horror…” Even though I usually know better, especially when it comes to movies or culture that I’ve never even heard a mention of before (and I tend to think that I’m fairly in-the-geeky-know?), I was lured into this simplistic marketing trick quickly and thus resulted in school boy expectations turn disappointment even quicker. I can’t help but think that “Henry…” might have opened some doors for wowing people for its disturbing ideas and imagery over 20 years ago, but it’s no more disturbing as films before it, nor did I find it to be a masterpiece. I did find that it’s use of technology of incorporating film within the film may have been pretty groundbreaking in its ideas for such use in horror topics at the time. For the most part, “Henry…” felt very dated and was nothing more than a dud of movie making cheese for me with bumbled acting that went over and under the bar and a plot that could have really been something as a device for tinkering into the mind and actions of a serial killer. In the end it fell short for me, or do I not get it? Maybe it’s better in tune to that of Cult Classic than Masterpiece? I don’t know, but I just trust my gut. Although, I do give it credit for making me feel disturbed and it was rather humorous at times. Mostly, I am left with curiosity (well, other than the knowledge of marketing gimmicks) as to why it is still honored to be a “masterpiece of modern horror”, unless the word “modern” expands to the last 20-some years or more? Even still, I would find it scraping the bottom of the pool as dead weight.