Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a 1986 utterly low-budget masterpiece by director John McNaughton. And what a nasty, depressing, gruesome viewing experience it is. Somehow the movie always comes to mind whenever I come across a rough-around-the-edges seventies land yacht.
There’s Henry, rolling in his GM ride, a 1970 Chevy Impala.
I must add that the Oldsmobile I caught was in a substantially better overall condition. No serious body damage, in contrast to Henry’s car and victims.
Whose sweater is that?
The Olds was imported into the Netherlands in 1999, so it has been roaming our streets for two decades now.
Trevellyan Olds from San Diego (see Stumack’s comment), I assume this must be the original 1972 license plate holder.
“Oh, just visiting a truck show in a small-town industrial park, heh?”
Any car or type of car that gives you the chills?
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Thank you for reminding me of my all time favorite horror film….that I never wish to see again. I think that movie honestly wouldn’t be as effective without two things, Michael Rooker’s fantastic performance, and the grungy low budget quality. Sure, the chilling sense of disturbing realism would still be there, but I don’t think it would’ve been as effective had it not been filmed in that dingy, almost grindhouse quality that the a no-budget late 80s film could pull off. I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it, but I also know its a tough sit and not something that everyone will have the mental fortitude to endure.
As for cars that give me chills. In real life, probably nothing to major unless it had real life historical links to something gruesome or disturbing (Think the Zodiac Killer’s Impala and you’d be in the ballpark) But movies are a different story. From the dilapidated and beaten Charger of Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth from Blue Velvet to the Toyota Echo Robin Williams drove in One Hour Photo, there are plenty of cars associated with creepy characters that can make me feel uneasy. Although that’s more of an extension of the character and if it just happens to fit who they are, rather than just the design of the vehicles themselves.
Yes, the “grungy low budget quality”, as you describe it so well. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the one and only 1974 original, falls into the same category.
+1 on the movie. Once watched, you’ll never look at a beat-up 1970 Impala the same way, again.
A good way to describe the low-budget look is that it has a documentary ‘real’ feel to it. One of the most riveting scenes is a home video shot when Henry and his partner, Otis Campbell, assault and murder a family in their home.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see ‘Henry’ listed in the dictionary as the definition of ‘disturbing’. If you really want to see something frightening on a deeply psychological level, it’s the one to watch. But be prepared to lose sleep later.
FWIW, it’s loosely based on the real-life exploits of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. In an interesting tidbit, apparently many serial killers lack a sense of smell. That’s how many are caught. Jeffrey Dahmer, for one. In Henry’s case, he had been driving around with a dead body in the trunk. When stopped for a minor traffic violation, the cop was overpowered by the stench.
+2. I remember reading that the film was sold in to its financiers as an exploitation slasher, but McNaughton had other plans and made a modern slow-boil masterpiece – much to their chagrin, although I think it did earn its money back.
Indeed. Supposedly, it was made a little ‘too’ well, so much that it was going to get an ‘X’ rating because of the violence. So, it was released without a rating to independent theaters. Today, it’s something of a cult-classic. There are even ‘Henry’ t-shirts.
One of the biggest problems was, unlike the vast majority of horror movies, it’s too realistic, and there’s no happy ending. Not to mention that you end up feeling sympathetic for a psychotic serial killer.
Rooker nailed it. Something primal about his jutting jaw. Dafoe has the same sort of primalness in his face, but I don’t think he could have done it better.
As disturbing as ‘Henry’ is, the king of them all is STILL the film that invented the ‘slasher’ genre-‘Psycho.’ The Hitchcock version, of course.
The Owner must be Rich who can afford a 8 MPG car in Holland
It runs on LPG. Per liter -or whatever the quantity- less than half the price of regular gasoline (RON95 octane rating). The fuel consumption will be a bit higher though.
Huge engines, low power. These seventies barges just run perfectly fine on LPG.
Apart from that, it’s older than 40 years: zero road tax.
I think its more in 15mpg range and definitely its hobby car – in such a case who care about the mpg for few thousand miles per year…
You know the story about the monkey and bananas – monkey is cheap but the maintenance makes the difference. Not to mention in Netherland is alternative fuel LPG very popular.
…”and definitely its hobby car – in such a case who care about the mpg for few thousand miles per year”…
Yes, that too.
My father had a 73 Delta 88 Royale. A most unimpressive piece of junk. I remember going down the highway, sitting in the backseat, and hearing the rear suspension working. There were no redeeming qualities to that car, it was the manufacturer’s cynical statement of contempt for the people who bought them.
I’m thinking your dad doesn’t perform regular maintenance. My dad had a ’73 four door hardtop. It went 350,000 miles before the transmission went out. Good city car….. awesome highway car.
Indeed. The first ’73 Delta 88 I ever encountered was the one that carried me home from the hospital shortly after I was born (my parents had an Eclipse Blue Royale two-door hardtop), and the last one was one I traded in for an ’02 Crown Vic. Pictured (well maybe not due to technical problems at CC) is the aforementioned Delta with the silky smooth powertrain I loved so much…just a 350 2-bbl and a Turbo 375 tranny, but bulletproof if inefficient!
My father kept his cars in immaculate condition. When I rode in it, it was quite new. The car had no redeeming qualities. After a 10 year hiatus, he bought a new ’63, a new ’67 and then this. They got progressively worse and none approached the quality of my aunt’s ’55 Super 88
Looks like it was Trevellyan Oldsmobile…
That sounds more logical, fixed!
By Tre-, Pol-, and Pen- shall ye know the Cornish men.
Good old Cornish name.
What are those wheels. Don’t Recognize them as stock but they look almost like some alternate universe style steel wheels. I do like!
Olds polycast wheels. They were available in 1971-72.
Definitely stock. There’s a 71 Olds Delta 88 convertible in my neck of the woods wearing them too. They’re so much better than the standard fare hubcaps.
I really like those too, they seemed directly inspired by Motor Wheel Exciter mags.
Alternate universe is a good way to describe them in this application. The last remnant of the optimistic space age school of design in the full size segments before fully regressing to the brougham neoclassical themes that these cars are mostly remembered for
Motor Wheel was located about 10 minutes from Oldsmobile in Lansing, so they probably made them for Olds.
Ditto. Very cool Olds wheels
Of the 1971-76 Olds Delta 88’s I consider 1972 to be the best and my personal favorite year of the bunch, I thought it had the best looking front and rear end, plus the first year model bugs were gone by the 1972 model year and they weren’t fully smogged out with Emission Controls and 5mph like the later Delta 88’s were.
Perhaps the ultimate movie Oldsmobile is the ’73 Delta 88 that belongs to director Sam Raimi. His first film was Evil Dead which had such a small budget that they just used his personal car for filming. Since then he has included it (or stunt doubles) in about a dozen movies and TV shows.
The unsettlingly anonymous gray-green Ford wagon from the original “Halloween.” There’s something very creepy about such a plain car with such an implacable horror at the wheel.
I like these. A 1976 coupe was one of the first cars I drove. It was a friend’s dad’s car. They called it Tank. It was a very comfortable and smooth cruiser. Over boosted steering, plush seats, all that jazz. It was also so very brown, in the best 70s way. It had a 350 and made that great 4-barrel growl when it was floored. Which I did to it pretty much the whole drive. My friend didn’t keep it a secret and while his dad wasn’t upset, he never let me drive the car anymore.😞
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas in the late 70s and early 80s. A pretty girl I went to high school with was murdered by Henry Lee Lucas in this shabby apartment complex in 1978, a few blocks from my family’s home. As for creepy cars, well John Gacy cruised Chicago in his black 1979 Oldsmobile Delta Royale picking up victims. I think of Gacy and his black Olds whenever I hear the 70s pop song “Vehicle” by Ides of March with the lyrics “hey, I’m the friendly stranger in a black sedan, won’t you hop inside my car.”
Curious, which murder was this? (Six of the San Antonio murders originally claimed by serial-liar Lucas were later reopened.)
I became quite familiar with these in my time spent in an Oldsmobile showroom when my mother was shopping for a new Cutlass.
My Grandmother Cavanaugh’s last big car was the 1971 version of this coupe, painted a metallic grayish-blue and lacking the usual vinyl top. She did not pop for the polycast wheels, however. Good Lord would she fling that huge thing around the narrow streets of the Philly suburbs!