Flickchart Daily: Matchup of the Day & New Movies in Theaters
Matchup of the Day
Both Psycho and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer are based on the exploits of real-life murderers:
Ed Gein provided the the inspiration for Norman Bates in Psycho. From reading about Gein’s gruesome offenses, I’d say Bates is relatively well-adjusted by comparison. While they do share an unhealthy mother fixation, Gein was also an avid grave robber and collector of body parts. The films Deranged and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, also based on Gein’s activities, are probably closer to an accurate representation of what kind of fellow he was.
The title character in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer was modeled after Henry Lee Lucas. As with Bates and Gein, Henry in the film and Lucas share mother issues. Rooker, however, portrays the character as a killer who at least holds some standards of decency. Lucas admitted to molesting dead bodies, which is something Henry can’t abide in the movie. He and his accomplice, Otis, invade a home and murder a family of three. Otis attempts to have his way with a woman’s corpse, but Henry stops him in disgust. Lucas had no such reservations.
Whether you believe Psycho to be a superior film to Henry or not, Norman Bates doesn’t strike me to be as menacing as Rooker’s psychopath. Henry is a more disturbing film than Psycho. There is no equivalent scene in Henry to Janet Leigh‘s shower demise in terms of delivering a shock, this is true. But, overall, Henry as a character, and his cold-blooded proclivity toward murder, is scarier than Norman Bates and his craziness. Because Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is so grim, it’s not really a movie I would call entertaining, exactly. I am more entertained by Psycho, for sure.
When I watched Henry again recently, I did notice the musical score. Back when I wrote that I Spit On Your Grave vs. Blue Velvet article, I talked about how the lack of a score in I Spit On Your Grave created a moral ambiguity that troubled some viewers. Most movies employ some kind of music to reflect the action on screen. During a scene of extreme violence, the absence of music implies an absence of moral judgment on the part of the film itself. The viewer is alone with the violence. In the article, I mentioned Henry as another movie that contains extreme violence and lacks a score. I was mistaken. I believe Henry would be more disturbing without music, but the music is definitely in there. (Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part?)
Interestingly, I found this video that shows the Psycho shower scene without the famous Bernard Herrmann score. I think the lack of music does make the scene more uncomfortable to sit through. What do you think?
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