Dark Sky Films Celebrates 30 Years of ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ with a 4K Restoration

Chris Savage

I can’t believe it’s nearly been 30 years since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was released in the States, where has the time gone!? But, 30 years is a tremendous occasion and Dark Sky Films are celebrating in style. They will be re-releasing the film theatrically in 20 cities beginning this October 21st, plus it will be in 4K.

Now I’m absolutely stoked for a re-release of the film, love it. But 4K? For me there are some films that work really well with that gritty look and Henry is one of them. But, still, the film is being re-released and that is freakin’ awesome!

From the Press Release:

It was a true game-changer, a film so upsetting in its blunt depiction of an amoral murderer that it made the slasher films of its time look like cartoons by comparison. HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER became a lightning rod in heated debates about cinema and censorship but has only grown in stature since its first showing in 1986. Now, on the 30th anniversary of its momentous debut, it returns in a 4K restoration re-release nationwide via Dark Sky Films, with major theatrical engagements to begin on October 21, 2016.

The film will come “home” on October 14, 2016, as Dark Sky partners with the Chicago International Film Festival for a large-scale event including a festival red-carpet premiere and a Q&A with star Michael Rooker and director John McNaughton in attendance.

HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER is a chilling profile of a cold-blooded killer that, 30 years after its historic festival premiere, has lost none of its power to shock. The film, loosely based on a true story, has been hailed as one of the most disturbing and terrifying examinations of mass murderers ever filmed. Henry (Michael Rooker, “The Walking Dead”) is a psychopathic drifter who has coldly murdered a number of people for no particular reason and without any remorse. Leaving bodies in his wake, Henry makes his way to Chicago, where his he settles into the run-down apartment of his drug-dealing former prison friend and occasional roommate Otis (Tom Towles).

Also moving into the space is Otis’s younger sister, Becky (Tracy Arnold), who is fleeing her abusive husband. As she fends off her brother’s incestuous advances, Becky finds herself attracted to Henry – unaware that he, along with Otis, is continuing their murderous rampage.

Director John McNaughton completed the film in 1986, and it was shown at that year’s Chicago International Film Festival. But it wasn’t until 1990 that a U.S. distributor was brave enough to give it a wide release. Henry predates the NC-17 rating and received its predecessor, the X rating, on three separate occasions. As a result of it and related issues with Pedro Almodovar’s Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, Phillip Kaufman’s Henry & June, and Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, the MPAA created the NC-17 as its replacement on 9/26/1990. Henry’s current rating is “X (Surrendered)” though a renewed rating is pending. The film’s violence, and the clinical, detached portrayal of Henry by the unforgettable Michael Rooker, originally earned it the MPAA’s highly restrictive NC-17 rating.

The response from both critics and the public was as visceral as the film itself, and it went on to gain praise as one of the most compelling and disturbing films of modern cinema.

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER returns with a thrilling, cinematic presentation that cements its reputation as one of the most harrowing and original American films of all time. Dark Sky Films, a division of MPI Media Group, proudly presents it in a brand-new 4K scan and restoration from the 16mm original camera negatives and featuring a new 5.1 audio mix from the stereo 35mm mag reels, all approved by director John McNaughton.

HENRY opens in New York on October 21; McNaughton will attend the film’s New York premiere at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, and on October 28 McNaughton will present it at the Laemmle NoHo in Los Angeles.

A whole new generation of filmgoers will be introduced to HENRY with an amazing new transfer that puts the film firmly back into the vanguard of contemporary cinematic horror. Daniel M. Kimmel of Variety wrote, “[T]his is a movie that will anger and frighten audiences … Many will also find this one of the most impressive film debuts of the ’80s.”

Henry Poster


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      1. BigSpoonyBard August 27, 2016 at 8:13 pm

        4k just means they are going to clean the print of damage and get every last ounce of film quality on to the screen. That means it should reflect the actual film print more accurately, which thus means the grittiness should be “grittier.” 4k is not synonymous with DNR, which is what scrubs the grit away.

        • Chris Savage August 28, 2016 at 5:23 am

          Really? That’s awesome then. Well, bring on the 4K!

      2. Master September 8, 2016 at 1:04 pm

        Had the pleasure of meeting John mcnaughton and tom towles at the Chicago premiere of his second film The Borrower and they signed my VHS copy of Henry. Very friendly with the fans but balked when I told them I lived near the hotel where Henry took Becky to. I used to frequent that hotel when I was single and the people running the place wanted to know if I knew how to contact the film crew- they wouldn’t say why and john ended our conversation when I mentioned it. I’ve always wondered about that and wanted to know if some additional scenes were filmed there or what it was all about. I’ll go to this new print showing and hope I can get get Michael rooker to sign my now ancient VHS copy of Henry.