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MPI Networks presents
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer—Part 2 (1996)

"You don't even know me."
- Henry (Neil Giuntoli)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: July 05, 2000

Stars: Neil Giuntoli, Rich Komenich
Other Stars: Kate Walsh, Carri Levinson
Director: Chuck Parello

MPAA Rating: R for strong, grisly murders and violence, sex, language and some drug use.
Run Time: 01h:45m:00s
Release Date: November 03, 1998
UPC: 030306734323
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- CDC+ C+

DVD Review

In 1986, the film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer released to much critical praise to art-house audiences. The 'X' rating it received from the MPAA (for violence), however, caused the huge debate over the creation a non-sexual "adult" rating which eventually ended with the birth of the NC-17 rating. Henry—Part 2 is a direct continuation of the first film, although it has a different star, writer, producer and director.

The film continues the story of drifting serial killer, Henry (Neil Giuntoli). Presumably starting soon after the ending of the first film, we find Henry staying at a homeless shelter. Eventually, he finds work at a portable toilet supplier earning a decent wage. One of his co-workers, Kai (Rich Komenich) offers Henry a room in his house where his wife, Cricket (Kate Walsh) and his niece Louisa (Carri Levinson) are very welcoming. Henry finds himself in a surprisingly stable situation and he makes the best of it. Eventually, though, Henry discovers that Kai has a rather dark secret. Kai is an arsonist who torches buildings for cuts of the insurance money. He invites Henry in on the deal, and soon they both are working together on various arson jobs.

Henry—Part 2 is a difficult film to critique. On it's own, the movie has a certain charm. It tells a dark, sinister story of people who have very unusual lifestyles and morals. Henry's killings and Kai's arson blend together in an unusual way, making the entire movie extremely grim. This desolate plot is eerie and uncomfortable—in a good way. The problem here, though, is that we've seen it all before. We saw it in Henry 1. To put it simply, there's almost no reason for this sequel to exist. The original film was brilliant because it was a low-key, bleak portrayal of Henry's endless cycle of violence and how he was able to convince other people how romantic it was. In the end, Henry still exists in society and there is no real conclusion. Continuing this story seems like an attempt at glorifying the violence and riding on the coattails of the first film. The minimalist, low-budget vision is still kept, but at the same time I felt like the continuing story of Henry was best left to the imagination. The "partners-in-crime" plot also brings back memories of the original film, in which Henry had a small role in Otis' drug dealing.

While the original Henry was extremely violent and gory, the portrayal of Henry in the first film was very intense. He was an impulsive and angry character. In this film, Neil Giuntoli's portrayal seems far too calculating and cruel to be the same person. The gore here seems too outlandish and bloody to have any artistic value, at least when compared to Henry's quiet, unassuming nature in the original film. It amazes me that 10 years after the first film, a movie that's even WORSE in some ways only gets an R. In the production notes we are told that "Censors wanted to give Henry 2 an NC-17 rating for violence." OK. So why didn't they?

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The full frame image is a bit flawed here. While the film has good color balance and is generally watchable, there's a lot of compression artifacts in certain scenes. On top of this, some background detail exhibits shimmer, especially in darker scenes. This wouldn't be a big problem if it weren't for the fact that the image is NOT the original aspect ratio. After watching the footage in the behind-the-scenes segment, it occurred to me that the footage was about 1:87:1 widescreen there. This is too bad, since it affects picture composition.

Image Transfer Grade: D


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 Surround audio track is functional, but nothing special. This isn't a problem with the mastering, though. The movie just isn't really one of those films that has a fancy soundtrack. Dialogue is very well balanced against music and background music, and a few ambient effects get driven into the front channels. There's really no special imaging, and most of the film is extremely quiet and slow. I didn't notice any usage of the surround channels at all. I didn't particularly care for the intrusive, synthesized, orchestral soundtrack, but that's more a matter or taste than anything wrong with the DVD.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The biggest extra on the Henry—Part 2 disc is a 15-minute behind-the- scenes piece. It contains interviews with some of the cast and crew, and also contains some footage of scenes being filmed. Most of the featurette is taken up with the set-up for one of the film's more dangerous arson sequences.

Trailers for the original Henry and Henry 2 are included on the disc, although the Henry trailer is clearly a new one made specifically for MPI's new DVD and VHS releases.

The filmographies section is pretty exhaustive, but it only covers the main actors. None of the crew is listed.

Some minor production notes are featured in the form of two small sections. One called "Notes" on the menu for the featurette, and another called "Factoids" on the main menu. I have to admit, though, the "notes" aren't particularly detailed.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

My immediate thoughts of Henry—Part 2 question the filmmaker's motives. Obviously John McNaughton (the director of the original film) didn't particularly see a sequel in mind, even though he re-assembled a good chunk of the Henry cast for his sci-fi film The Borrower. The extreme gore and incredibly bland dialogue here seem to add up to a conventional slasher film. Most critics agreed that the original film wasn't really an hommage to serial killers, but rather a scary look into the mentality of one. The sequel, though, doesn't seem to have any of that artistic integrity, it just meanders through murder after murder. I can't really recommend this film to fans of the first one, but you still might want to check it out as a curiosity.


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