By Christopher Curry | October 6, 2006

Director Chuck Parello’s take on mass murderer Henry Lee Lucas supposedly picks right up where John McNaughton’s 1986 film left off. However, Parello and crew were unable to pick up the impressive Michael Rooker whose performance as Henry in 1986 is legendary amongst horror fans. This time around the killer is played by Neil Giuntoli. Giuntoli is primarily a television actor and it painfully shows. Rooker’s portrayal of Henry was dark, brooding and aloof, and it worked. Giuntoli tries desperately to recreate Rooker’s formula but it just doesn’t pan out, and therefore it becomes difficult to buy into the character in this sequel.

However, Henry’s new partner in crime, Kai, is a nice stand-in for Otis. Otis was Henry’s murdering understudy from the original film, but eventually received the business end of an ice pick—handily administered by his mentor. Any how, Henry meets Kai while applying for a job as a port-o-potty attendant. Kai takes Henry in as a roommate and eventually tells him of his extra curricular activities. Kai is part of an arson ring. Henry’s interested, so by day they suck s**t and by night they set fires. For the first 30 minutes of the film only two people die, and they were only killed because they were witnesses to one of Henry and Kai’s acts of arson.

From here the film crawls along. There are some random acts of murder, some gorier than others, but mostly fires are set and portable johns are cleaned. Kai’s niece, Louisa, falls in love with Henry and when he declines her affections claiming, “I’m a bad man,” she blows her brains out with a pistol while sitting on the living room couch. Kai approaches Henry and Henry shoots him and then turns the gun on Cricket (Kai’s wife). Henry torches the house and moves on.

“Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer 2″ simply does not hold up to the original. McNaughton’s 1986 horror sleeper had a fly-on-the-wall quality that is missing in the sequel. However, Parello’s handling of a struggling blue collar America is dead-on, but sadly this is the only time that this lackluster sequel even comes close to its predecessor. “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” was not pretty, but then horror was never meant to be pretty. “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer 2″ is merely pedestrian by comparison.

Darksky Films released this DVD with audio commentary by the director, trailers, deleted scenes, a photo gallery and a making-of featurette.

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