DRIFTER: HENRY LEE LUCAS
Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
Antonio Sabato Jr
What's it about
Based on the true story of Henry Lee Lucas, a serial killer from Virginia who confessed his involvement in up to three hundred cases of homicide. However, it is not known for certain how many people he actually killed and how many he merely claimed to. Here we get to see little Henry Lee in his younger years through his eventual spree of violence.
Is it good movie?
Michael Feifer obviously has a thing for serial killers. He’s the director of DRIFTER: HENRY LEE LUCAS, and checking over at IMDb I find he was also behind recent films dealing with Ed Gein, Ted Bundy and The Boston Strangler. After all the “deep, psychological” serial killer movies that have followed in the wake of movies like SE7EN and SAW , and the slew of other rip-offs that followed them… it clearly would be a challenge to bring anything fresh to the genre. And this is pretty much the main problem with this film. It’s boring, basic, and I was kind of wondering what the hell the point was after my investment of 90 minutes.
Antonio Sabato Jr. plays Lucas, with makeup giving the appearance of a fallen left eyelid (result of a childhood accident for the real Lucas) and a southern slur that can sound pretty mumbly at times. Going by this film, I’d say Lucas’ childhood was… messed-up. His mother worked as a prostitute and abused him. His father lost his legs and became an alcoholic. One could easily imagine how so much physical and emotional torture could really turn someone into a monster. Eventually, Lucas teamed up with another loose canon named Ottis (played by Kostas Sommer) and his girl and they roamed the southern states, raping and killing women (and not necessarily in that order).
The movie borders on semi-interesting at times, especially when it begins to address the question of how many murders Lucas actually committed. But it’s also really hurt by its obviously next-to-nothing budget. The sets are never quite believable, and I don’t think there is a single scene with more than six people in the shot (clearly, not many extras around either). The acting is all over the map. Sabato Jr. is… trying. Oh, how he tries. But in the end he’s not much of an actor and he has about as much range as Dolph Lundgren. Lucas certainly remains a total enigma to me after this film. I understand he had a pretty crazy upbringing, but I left this thinking he was just some attention-seeking idiot with a southern drawl.
Feiffer is not a bad director. There is some good camera work and occasionally he hits a nice storytelling beat. I just think there’s a far more interesting story to be told about Henry Lee Lucas. I’m sure I could probably find that in HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER from 1986, which I’ve never seen, but I hear good things. DRIFTER: HENRY LEE LUCAS doesn’t offer much insight into who the man really was, and it doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment or historical value either.
Video / Audio
DRIFTER: HENRY LEE LUCAS covers familiar ground, and is a pointless look into the life of a real killer. If you want to know about Lucas, I’m sure reading a biography would serve you better… hell, even Wikipedia would do.