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October 24, 2023
Ruined with Alison Leiby and Halle Kiefer
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

In This Episode

Halle and Alison weigh in on true crime as a genre while they ruin Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

Follow @ruinedpodcast on Instagram and Twitter for show updates! Check out @theradiopoint and @crookedmedia for more original content!





[theme music]: If scary movies give you dread. Keep you up late night in bed, here’s a podcast that will help you ease your mind. We’ll explain the plot real nicely then we’ll talk about what’s frightening, so you never have to have a spooky time. It’s Ruined.


Halle Kiefer: Oh, hey, everybody. Welcome to Ruined. I’m Halle. 


Alison Leiby: And I’m Alison. 


Halle Kiefer: And this is a podcast where we ruin a horror movie just for you. 


Alison Leiby: Just for all you guys. Halle, how are you doing? 


Halle Kiefer: I’m okay. If you’re a new listener, I write for also another Crooked podcast, Lovett or Leave It. And we are deep into tour season. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: So that’s, you know, I don’t know how the Rolling Stones did it. Cause this is just a podcast that’s taking it out of me. I don’t know how those old bastards get up and do it every time, but that’s—


Alison Leiby: It is, awful. 


Halle Kiefer: —that’s why they’re the Rolling Stones and why we have a podcast where I get to sit down. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Also, they were younger than us when they started, so. 


Halle Kiefer: But they’re still going. Well, not current, I mean not like today, but like. 


Alison Leiby: But now they’re so rich that it’s a different experience. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, but it’s not like you can buy a new exoskeleton or something like I just would. I would need like a mech suit. 


Alison Leiby: True. I would love that. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Well, one day that’s how rich we’re going to be. And our exoskeleton will, of course, melt into the marsh. That is the entire coastline of America. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So it’s not gonna be very practical. 


Alison Leiby: No, no, no, no, no. But it will be briefly fun I think. [laughs] 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, absolutely, briefly. Fun. That’s what life’s all about. 


Alison Leiby: Briefly fun here for a good time. Probably not a long time. 


Halle Kiefer: No. Earth, colon, briefly fun. 


Alison Leiby: Earth. Colon. [laughs] Briefly. That’s great. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, how are you doing? 


Alison Leiby: I’m good. I have nothing. 


Halle Kiefer: Can you talk for a little while because I’m gonna take a bite of sandwich? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah,  yeah. I could talk. 


Halle Kiefer: I ran to Starbucks. Sorry. 


Alison Leiby: What? What did you get at Starbucks? [laughs] A sandwich? 


Halle Kiefer: I got an impossible sandwich. 


Alison Leiby: Oh shit. 


Halle Kiefer: And I normally just get a cold brew with oat milk. Because I’m trying not to use as much sugar, but I do have a iced brown sugar shaken espresso. That, a tall. That is my treat. 


Alison Leiby: I just feel everyone’s like I am such a I drink black coffee when it’s iced. I do a splash of dairy milk in hot coffee and that’s kind of it for me. But then, like I’d say, every three months, it’s time for some kind of, like, indulgent, like either an after dinner cappuccino at a fancy restaurant or like, getting, you know, I when we were on the road, I treated myself to a chai. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Latte. You know, just a stupid Starbucks. Like they’re like, yeah, you know, chai. And it’s like, well, probably not, but. And I’m sure in the winter I will get one like, fancy, like peppermint latte nonsense, because it’s like a hot milkshake. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, we, I think all of us are. And by all I mean me. So I assume everyone’s the same way, but sort of operate by a treat economy where if I’m doing a lot of work, I was like, well, I learned a little treat. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And that little treat keeps me going all day. 


Alison Leiby: Well. 


Halle Kiefer: And it’s not a great way to eat or live. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: But it does help. It takes the edge off to have a little treat. So I’m having a little treat. 


Alison Leiby: Especially when, like, it just feels like we’re going to work till we die. That, like you may as well I buy myself a little treat or present after I, like, finish a thing that’s my like I have like the short term ones of like, oh, I’m going to go out and get a candy or a wine or whatever as like, I wrote something today. But big stuff like completing a stand up tour or like finishing a new pilot sample or something or getting a really big job. I always buy myself like a fancy present, and I have to say that that’s also a really lovely way to spend all of your money. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I recently got myself a present, I got myself perfume. 


Alison Leiby: Ooh, what perfume? 


Halle Kiefer: Well, so I got DS & Durga Pistachio. Here’s my concern about I like I like the scent, I like the stuff. It does not last. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: And I it makes me insane. If you buy a perfume and 20 minutes later, you can’t smell it. Then what have I done? I throw my money away. Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So that is my only concern. I’m like, God dammit, they got me again. 


Alison Leiby: And that’s not something you can know at purchase. Like, you can be like, I like how that smells. I like how this feels on my skin. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: I like how the bottle looks but like you can’t know unless you put it on and then spend the day and then go back and buy it. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: But that’s so much work. 


Halle Kiefer: And I will say the my other treat is reading about the how the Republicans in Congress completely falling apart in the House. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes that is fun. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh oh that takes the edge off. Scramble around your ants of the afterbirth now gentlemen. I just love every all [laughs] the wacky shit like the guy, the new guy pounding the gavel like a maniac, like, fuck you. So that’s been kind of fun just to see them tear each other apart. 


Alison Leiby: That’s nice. 


Halle Kiefer: I think that’s been again, not great for, not great for for society. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: But better them than us, I suppose. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I agree with that. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: It gives you like a little hope that like the right could fall apart. 


Halle Kiefer: And show people how dysfunctional they are. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Like it’s like to see this is like, well, even if you agree with them, surely you see this is not a functional party. 


Alison Leiby: This is chaos. 


Halle Kiefer: This is just mayhem using transphobia, racism to trick you. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: I you know, you know me. I’m I’m I’m an eternal optimist, Alison. And yeah, I’m optimistic. 


Alison Leiby: Somehow. 


Halle Kiefer: Even even in these moments. 




Halle Kiefer: So let us begin ruining our movie. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Which this is a movie I had not seen, but of course I’ve heard about a million times. We are doing this month’s theme, which is let’s scare Alison to death. 


Alison Leiby: We haven’t accomplished it. But boy, we’re doing a good job. And what is your life, if not a waking death Alison? 


Halle Kiefer: Yes, and I’ve always said that, you know, so we I’ve been trying to pick some of the scarier movies that we haven’t done. I think I may have failed this one. I really like this one, but it is more of a more of a drama or dramatic versus say, I think when I think about what terrifies you, I do think of like the Terrifier. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Well, it’d be hard for any movie to top. Those. 


Halle Kiefer: I mean, when I say this, like what? The scariest movie we’ve done and it’s hard because you don’t remember any of them. 


Alison Leiby: Well, yeah. And isn’t that the scariest thing they all live on in kind of like a muddled soup in my brain? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it’s. It’s not good. It’s like how butterflies, like when they when the caterpillars go into a cocoon, they become a liquid, and they when they come out. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re a butterfly, but they still retain their memories. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s what you have in your brain. Is the caterpillar liquid. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, just liquid. 


Halle Kiefer: And from out of your mouth come the butterflies of comedy. And that is your art. And so it works for you. But in my mind, the things that scare you are the Terrifiers where I’m telling you something and you’re going, No, please don’t tell me the thing that you’re saying to me. [laughter] Yes. So. 


Alison Leiby: But I will say the ones that also stick with me are like always the grounded, like—


Halle Kiefer: Well, this one’s grounded maybe—


Alison Leiby: This could happen. 


Halle Kiefer: —realistic. Yeah, this one is. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And I was having heard of people talk about this like it was so shocking. And I think at the time it was kind of like hyped in that way. Like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: The idea that this movie was like one of the scariest so then I saw it. I think it’s a really well done film. And the film, of course, is 1986 Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, directed and co-written by John McNaughton, and it is based on the actual serial killers, Ottis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas. 


Alison Leiby: Mm. 


Halle Kiefer: And I’m not going to really get into I’ll talk about at the end like a little similarities with their life. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s based on not versus like this is the story. But this does seem—


Alison Leiby: The story of. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: We’re kind of getting at maybe what their dynamic is. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I always remember hearing Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole from Last Podcast on the Left. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Because they were doing like heavy hitters, you know, and I watching this, I was like, this is why I don’t this is why I feel like I’ve really moved away from listening to true crime. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Because I just don’t feel like there’s any the entertainment value is there for me anymore. And I do feel like there is a lot of good true crime, but it’s more like exploring the justice system and like. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Now what is justice like? I think we talked about this, but like I was listening to this podcast Retrievals where it’s about these women who had to get their eggs retrieved. 


Alison Leiby: Oh yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Because one of the nurses was addicted to opiates and was basically switching out the painkillers for saline. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And it’s like about the trial and about these women and they interview the women. It’s like that’s that’s the kind of true crime I want to read. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah yeah yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Where it’s like, this is an incredibly complicated, fucked up situation, but we’re treating it. We have to talk about, like, what does justice look like in this situation? Like, how would these women feel that justice has been served versus we’re just going to tell you about these serial killers, you know what I mean? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. My friend Divya and I talk about this a lot. When we talk about not podcast but like docuseries. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: And we talk about like truth and we’re both like, I don’t like true crime. Like, I don’t like a show that’s just like. You know, we’re trying to figure out who murdered this one woman, you know? 


Halle Kiefer: Ooh, ooh. Like who did it?


Alison Leiby: It’s like now that there aren’t ones that are well done that I’ve absolutely watched and, like, been pretty gripped by. But like, in general, that doesn’t, like, really pique my interest. But what does is, like, we call it big crime. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: But systemic crime. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Huge financial crimes—


Halle Kiefer: Fraud, the grift. 


Alison Leiby: —cults, fraud, like massive, you know, usually like capitalism driven like, you know, I think we both watched the movie about Boeing, so fucking scary. [laughter]


Halle Kiefer: Oh, yeah. It’s a perfect example. Yeah.


Alison Leiby: Downfall. 


Halle Kiefer: The Case Against Boeing, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. Please watch that on Netflix or wherever it’s available. 


Alison Leiby: Go watch that but not before you have to travel. 


Halle Kiefer: Go. 


Alison Leiby: You just. Just check what? Just check what airplane you’re getting on em. But. So, like, I tend to find, like. Yeah, like I would rather hear about the justice system, the aftermath, the kind of cultural, societal changes that come from, you know, what happens in a smaller, you know, still horrific murder or something like that. But yeah, true crime as a genre that pertains to just like serial killers and missing people is not quite for me. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And I feel like in sort of this movie and like coverage about these two guys who were basically friends who were serial killers together and they it’s sort of like the value of covering this is like when you find out about these these men’s upbringing, it’s like, well, people are made into monsters by horrific abuse, years of horrific abuse. And we have this idea of like, oh, we, wow, he was so normal, like, whatever. And it’s like even Dahmer. Like, it’s like, wow, he’s the guy next door. And it’s like, well, his mother was institutionalized. He’s extremely mentally ill. There was abuse in the home. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And like, his parents probably thought that was normal because they were raised in those household. 


Alison Leiby: Right yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So it’s like the idea of like, analyzing what gets passed down. 


Alison Leiby: Cycles of abuse. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. That’s helpful. Rather than like, Oh, can you believe how crazy this is? Yes, we can all believe it because we all know about it by now. This is not shocking. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Or like incendiary. It’s just sad. So it’s like, how do we figure out how to not have serial killers anymore? I don’t know how to do it. But regardless, the film was actually rated X when it came out in 1986. 


Alison Leiby: Woah. 


Halle Kiefer: Initially. 


Alison Leiby: Is there still an X rating? 


Halle Kiefer: You know, that’s a great question. I think there is. But like, I just feel like nobody’s making those movies because you can’t get releases. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: I guess. No, I guess it’d be NC 17 now. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. 


Alison Leiby: Did that replace it or was NC 17 a step before X and then they just were like, We’re never going to release anything that’s X. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, that’s a great question. Was it ever really a rating or was it just like—


Alison Leiby: Just to be like this movie. You won’t believe it. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Okay, so here we go. The answer from Wikipedia. X was a rating that was formerly used in the United States by the MPAA to signify adult material. It was replaced by the NC 17 rating. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: In 1990. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So it was real and it has been replaced and it is X is too sexy. I think that’s the problem is like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: If you see something rated X you’re like, well, I’m going to see that fucking movie. 


Alison Leiby: I need to know what’s happening in the movie—


Halle Kiefer: I need to know. 


Alison Leiby: —that’s rated X. 


Halle Kiefer: The sexiest letter we have. So yes this was rated X when it came out and again, understandable. This is full of rape, murder, mayhem. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And what is so horrible about it, as far as I’m concerned, is that it’s all very grounded. So we always like to have Alison, watch the trailer? Alison, what did you think of the trailer for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. 


Alison Leiby: Well, the trailer is definitely terrifying. I could see if it’s spread out over the movie that it takes on the kind of vibe of a drama. But, boy, I didn’t like the trailer at all. I thought it was very scary. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Was there any particular images or moments for the trailer that really stuck out to you as terrifying? 


Alison Leiby: I think it was kind of the vibe between the two men and the like kind of coaching. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Element of it, where it’s just like, yeah, that feels very real and also like kind of feeds into my like sometimes, I don’t know, like sometimes when, like men are together, it feels a little conspiratorial and that’s. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it’s interesting. Obviously not that women can’t do those types of things, but like. 


Alison Leiby: No totally. 


Halle Kiefer: I always think of like the Columbine shooters and it’s like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: These kind of like the duos who commit these crimes is terrifying because and this movie is also does depict that the idea that like Henry Lee Lucas was kind of the I don’t know if brains is the word, but like the motivating the activating force. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And Otis was like a guy who was open to the idea of murder. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And had murdered, like, out of necessity. And then, like, Henry is like, well, if you’ve already murdered, I don’t think it’s that big a deal. And was, you know, I mean, not that he was like a victim in this in any ways, but like, you know, I mean, it’s, you know. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: As a woman, for that to happen, I just don’t know what that would look like. Not that it couldn’t happen, but, yeah, it’s it’s a foreign concept. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. And also kind of shows a little bit of like, you know, you just need one person egging on your intrusive thoughts. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Like, you know, once you have like a like exterior corroboration of something horrific that you’re thinking like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: It does feel like it justifies that enough for you to do it. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And I just have to say, and I’m not defending these guys and anyways, obviously, but like both of them were raised in like horrific abuse of households. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Ottis Toole. Like there there was incest on both sides. Like Ottis Toole’s like mother would dress him in a girl’s clothing, call him Susan. Like there was just so much going on in both of their households that it’s like, well, I think we were like, are people born evil? It’s like, well, even if they somehow were, I think we could give them a fighting chance by not having them be the victim of incest like. 


Alison Leiby: Yes yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Or or physical and mental abuse for years. Like, maybe we can start there because like the idea of like someone genetically being bad, it’s like, I think we know that it’s a lot more complicated. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Right.


Halle Kiefer: Like, it’s like, wow, could you believe it? Yeah. The world is full of horrible shit. Like, I’m sorry. Um, we always take a baseline scary. And so, Alison, how scary do you find the concept of. What, we kind of talked about, but how scary you the concept of two serial killers fighting each other, working together. 


Alison Leiby: Again, very bad, because it’s kind of like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, I see it in like any context when you’re like when you’re with one other person and you’re both kind of on the same page, like, it’s kind of like you’re just keep ping ponging off each other, amping each other up for the thing which like, you know, usually on, like, you know, on a night out, it’s like, let’s go to the next bar, let’s do this. Like, yes, let’s have another drink. But like, if we’re serial killers, it’s let’s kill these people. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. It’s like, well, we’re already out. We’re already we might as well be drinking you know what I mean killing people.


Alison Leiby: Right exactly. 


Halle Kiefer: You know and. Yeah. Which is a very interesting. I always remember reading something about Dahmer and he said that he like he knew killing was wrong and so he would drink to the point that he could do it. 


Alison Leiby: Oy. 


Halle Kiefer: And it’s almost like how people use it to like, oh, they’re nervous to talk to like, you know, to have sex. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Or like to talk to people or you know just like, let loose. And it’s like he wanted to let loose. So he was going to drink to that point. 


Alison Leiby: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: Which is insane. And then finally, would you like to guess the twist in the movie? Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer?


[voice over]: Guess the twist. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I don’t know quite the names of the two people yet, but I’m going to guess the one who’s the brains. Ends up, in the end getting murdered by the other guy that he was kind of like egging on to murder. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. Because that’s the thing is it’s not a 1 to 1 of real life. So I’m glad that you chose that as a definitive ending. Sort of. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And then also another thing to note is that both Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole, I think his name is Otis, but in the movie, it’s Otis. So I’m just going to say Otis for the movie. They they they were convicted on multiple counts of murder. Henry Lee Lucas, I believe, was convicted of murdering 11 people, but they also both confessed to hundreds of other murders. And it’s one of those things where I think looking back now, they are sort of understanding like, yeah, if you give a serial killer, who knows he’s in prison forever. Attention and details about a killing, he why wouldn’t he confess to it. He’s already there and he already, like, fancies himself a serial killer, like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And again, I think there’s just so many parts of policing, which I do think it’s like something that true crime has given us. Like a conversation of, like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Fake fake confession, false confessions happen all the time. Because police give them give people information and then intimidate them into confessing. So. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Just something to think about as we get into the film and let’s begin ruining Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. We open on, you guessed it, a woman’s corpse. Totally nude eyes open, lying dead in the grass in the woods, covered in blood. 


Alison Leiby: Great. 


Halle Kiefer: We cut to Henry, our serial killer. He’s paying his bill at a diner. And in addition to being a serial killer, he’s not much of a tipper. He’s not a serial tipper. Okay? 


Alison Leiby: Hm. 


Halle Kiefer: And he asked the counter lady for a pack of Kool’s. You could buy cigarettes in, like, the hospital, basically. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, people are just buying cigarettes. Like, on the bus. 


Alison Leiby: Constantly, everywhere. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s wild. 


Alison Leiby: No matter what. K-Mart. 


Halle Kiefer: And the woman had some back and he goes, You know, you got a real nice smile. And she just, she smiles back because he’s handsome. It’s played by Michael Rooker. So I think unfortunately, much like a Ted Bundy, at least there’s some level of like, well, this guy can’t be a serial killer. I think he’s hot. 


Alison Leiby: Kind of handsome, right? 


Halle Kiefer: Otis doesn’t have that problem, but. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So he hopes it out of there. And we unfortunately then see sort of like various scenes of murder that he is committed. Traveling across America, we see a liquor store employee sprawled over the counter of liquor store and a dead coworker on the ground. And whenever we see bodies, we hear sort of an echoing voiceover, the sound of the crime. In a hotel room or rather a motel room, we see a murdered sex worker on the toilet. She has been killed and an empty coke bottle jammed down her throat. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. 


Halle Kiefer: Her breasts out. I know. 


Alison Leiby: Why?


Halle Kiefer: And of course, then over this scene, we hear the sort of the echoing memory of Henry screaming at her, calling her a bitch, assaulting her. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: In river somewhere we see a woman’s corpse floating face down in her slip against sounds of her assault and the tearing of her clothes while she screams echoing over these scenes. And in between these vignettes, we just see Henry driving across America, road trip. You know, he’s on a murder spree. And it was at a time where, like, it was simply maybe it would have taken you a little longer. Obviously, they caught him eventually. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But he you know, you could there wasn’t DNA as such. You know, we’re just sort of starting to get that technology, so you come in, shoot somebody, rob a liquor store, drive out of town immediately. How would they find you? You know. 


Alison Leiby: Right. Yeah.


Halle Kiefer: There is. And I got to imagine also that like. Before digitization, like even just like one town to another being like, Hey, have you seen this guy? Would be harder. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. And I think that it’s sort of like, you know, the understanding of like what the news cycle is now is so different. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: As well. So it’s like, how would. Who would even know this happened. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And at what speed. But he’s, you know, having, having the time of his life. We see him get back to Chicago where he’s living at the time and he parks and he watches as a woman, makes her way to her car and he’s watching like he just sort of scans for women. So we see a mom with her kid getting in her car, a Black woman getting in her car, and then a white woman right next to him puts on his sunglasses and pulls out. Henry pulls out after her and starts following her. She lives in the suburbs. We see her pull in her driveway. He parks outside the car. But then when he sees her husband come out to help her with groceries, he drives away. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Later, Alison, we see him pick up a hitchhiker. It is a solo woman traveling with a guitar. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, God. 


Halle Kiefer: And this is why we can’t hitchhike anymore. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And she says, Are you headed into the city? And he says, Sure thing. Hop in. Meanwhile, at O’Hare Airport, a young woman named Becky waits for her brother Otis to pick her up. And Otis is busted as fuck. He’s got horrific teeth. He is like, you know, he’s got he’s he’s that much for personality either. I’ll be honest—


Alison Leiby: Yep. 


Halle Kiefer: —not. But he has a good time. And I guess that’s the only thing you could really say is he’s a good time guy. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And poor Becky is escaping her abusive husband, Leroy, and he finds her. She’s like chain smoking at a luggage carousel. You could also smoke in the airport. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, everywhere. 


Halle Kiefer: And he tells her, you look terrible. And she nods and she just starts sobbing and he says, okay, let’s go. So in the car, he’s he’s sort of like I told you Leroy was trash. And then he started to hit you, didn’t he? And he turned out to be trash. How long was I? How right was I? And she’s like, I don’t want to talk about this. And he asked about her daughter. He says, How long can Lurleen stay with Mama? So she has a daughter who’s staying with their mother while she’s coming to Chicago to look for work. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And she’s like, I don’t want to talk about Leroy. And also the idea like she had to leave town to get away from this man. Like things got heated. She’s trying to let it cool off before she goes back because this guy is insane and abusive.


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately, I don’t think it works that way. But I understand her, her thought process. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And she says, I’m thinking about getting a job in Chicago. And if I can, I’m going to bring Lurleen up here. And back at his place, Otis is like, So what kind of work are you looking for? What skills you got except dancing naked? Because apparently she used to strip in their hometown. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: She’s like, Shut up. Don’t make me regret coming here. Just then, Henry stops by to give Otis a guitar, and it’s a nice one. He’s like, Where did you get this? And Henry goes, Oh, I. I picked it up somewhere. Otis tells Henry, This is Becky, my sister. She’s gonna be staying here for a while and it’s like, she’ll be fine. Henry’s headed actually out to California soon. So Henry is going to drive across America again, killing people. And he’ll be back eventually. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah. Joyride. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And Otis tells Henry, Becky will sleep on the couch. But Henry, the gentleman says, No, please take the spare room. I’ll sleep on the couch, like, and eventually she does, you know, and Otis says, That’s totally fine. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Immediately. Henry, there’s something between Becky and Henry immediately. 


Alison Leiby: Okay not great. 


Halle Kiefer: No, not at all good. And also, like, again like she’s coming out of an abusive relationship. She’s finds herself attracted—


Alison Leiby: He’s a serial killer. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. Maybe the most abusive person you, kind of man, you could be. A serial killer. And Henry has to rush off. And head to work anyways. He does extermination work with their with their friend Andy. And afterwards he’s like, you know, I was hoping it was more work. And Andy says, I know, but you know what? Let me give you a little extra money as like a retainer, and I’ll call you, like next week. And when Henry goes to return the spray tank of pesticides Andy says, No, no, you just hold on to it. You bring it to the next gig, which now means Henry has a disguise of a normal person. 


Alison Leiby: Mm. 


Halle Kiefer: Which is an exterminator, which he’s going to then use to get inside women’s houses. Right. 


Alison Leiby: Great. Yeah. Yeah. That was always. Did you ever have to deal with that in New York? Like, I don’t know what it’s like in other towns. And if it’s like in L.A. where we’re like, your building would be like, there’s an exterminator coming. Let him in or don’t. And. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, in L.A., like, they’re. I think they’re a lot better be like we have because they’re something like you have to get like at least 24 hours warning. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So I’ve never had them send it up right then. But in New York constantly, there’ll just be someone knocking on the door like, I have to fix the toilet. 


Alison Leiby: Just some guy. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s like, okay, well, please don’t serial kill—


Alison Leiby: Come on in. I’m alone. Yeah, just really not great. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison he goes to the home of the woman he followed in the car, right? Only to leave when her husband got home. And she lets him in because he’s the exterminator. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see them like sort of a silent chat from a distance. And he enters. Later that night. We see her TV is on and she’s dead on the couch, her dead body stripped down to a slip and she strangled with the electrical cord. And we hear again over the scene sounds of her trying to fight Henry off. 


Alison Leiby: I mean. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, her chest and face are covered in cigarette burns. 


Alison Leiby: Ugh. 


Halle Kiefer: The next day we see Otis works at a mechanic shop. And again, it’s like he’s just doing, like, they’re both doing piecemeal work, like they’re just taking work where they can get it. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: He works in mechanic shop, like checking like tire pressure and stuff. And this teenager pulls up in a sporty little car and says, Do you have more of what you had this week? And he’s buying weed off of him? And Otis says, Yeah, but not here. Like I’ll meet you at the fields. And the guy’s like, I’m not meeting you somewhere else. He’s like, then I’m not going to fucking sell you drugs right here. And he says, Great, I’ll meet you at 6:30 at your school, basically. And the guy in the car goes, What a fucking pervert. So like, even he is like, I’m not getting in [laughs] this car with this guy. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: But he will because he wants to buy drugs. So. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, the things the things we’ve had to do to buy drugs before certain ones were legal. 


Halle Kiefer: The things we’ve done for drugs. I know it’s just so funny watching him buy because I was like oh he’s buying, you know, at least, coke. I mean something. 


Alison Leiby: Right. It’s just weed?


Halle Kiefer: It’s a big bag of weed. It’s like, Oh my God, thank God it was decriminalized. You know? Not that there aren’t—


Alison Leiby: I know.


Halle Kiefer: Oher reverberating consequences, I’m sure, but. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, just the excuse to throw people in jail for having weed is now harder to do. 


Alison Leiby: Is so stupid, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: In certain states, at least because, of course, it’s still not federally legal. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So back at home, Becky, is making them all dinner as like a thank you for letting me stay here. And she’s gutting a whole fish it looks so good while Otis plays the guitar and Becky who’s clearly interested in Henry is asking Otis like, how do you know him? And Otis says, Well, we met in prison, remember when I was in prison? 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And she said, What was Henry in? Like, did he rob a bank? And he says, Henry killed his mother and her boyfriend with a baseball bat. But do not tell him I told you that because he will kill me. I mean, literally don’t tell. 


Alison Leiby: Literally, you know. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: That’s a real like he will kill me like. 


Halle Kiefer: But really yeah.


Alison Leiby: We mean it. 


Halle Kiefer: Becky doesn’t want to believe it because obviously she’s interested in Henry. And unfortunately, then it’s like the fact she’s like, well, I don’t believe that. It’s like, well, Becky, you’re going to die then, aren’t you? I if you don’t believe. 


Alison Leiby: Unfortunately. 


Halle Kiefer: This. And Henry arrives home and, they have a delicious looking fish dinner and Otis leaves to go run an errand. He’s obviously going to drop off drugs, leaving Henry and Becky alone. And he says, Do you want to play cards? And so they start talking. And like everyone in this movie has a horrible life. So as soon as she has a moment with Henry, who she clearly already has a crush on. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She start talking about her life and sort of how she ended up in the situation she’s in. And and basically she says, like, oh, do you still have a relationships, basically like, do you have relationship with your daddy? Like. Do you know your daddy? And he says, Well, he used to drive trucks before he got his legs cut off, which is true to the Henry Lucas story. And he’s like, he’s talking to like, Oh, I remember my dad bought me a bike but it was too big and they ended up selling it anyways. And I had a brother, but he died of a bone disorder. And this is sort of an entree to Becky wanting to talk about her father. And she says, I can’t remember ever liking my daddy. I wanted to when I was five, you know, like when you’re younger and I remember, I dropped an ice cream cone he bought me and he just hauled up and he slapped me. 


Alison Leiby: Mhm. 


Halle Kiefer: And that’s sad, but not as sad as what she says next, which is that starting when she was 13, like her father would come in the room and ask her to take your shirt off and just quote, show him how she’s developing. And she said no. And he slapped her in the face and then basically would come to her room all the time and rape her. And when she would try to fight back or argue with him, he would just hit her. And she said basically she was afraid of getting pregnant. She’s like, I was afraid of having a deformed baby or having a baby with something wrong with it, but I never got pregnant and I told my mother and she pretended not to believe me. It was the worst part was like I could see in her face that she did believe me. She just didn’t wasn’t going to do anything about it. And so she says to Henry, It’s nice to talk to you, since I know you’re not judgmental. So for her perspective was like, oh, it’s good that he’s a maniac and he’s been to prison because he’s not going to judge me for being raped. And it’s like there is that like. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Where it’s like we like we have such a fucked up relation between the victim of being a victim of crime and the perpetrator of a crime. You know what I mean? 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 100%. 


Halle Kiefer: And then we talked about victimhood and the ways we rationalize and understand perpetrators is so bizarre. So it’s like this woman’s like, oh, you’re fucked up, I’m fucked up. I can talk to you about it without being like, you’re fucked up in the murder way. And I was raped by my father, which are two different experiences. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. And thus it’s like, look at us bonding over that. Like, I feel safe because. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, exactly. 


Alison Leiby: We are, quote unquote, “In the same boat.” And it’s like you’re not, though. [laughter]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, but it’s also like, well, I mean, you have been raped by your father for years. I’m sure you would date a serial killer. It’s like you don’t end up being a serial killer because, like, everything is totally straight fine at home. 


Alison Leiby: Everything’s great. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You’re able to, like, reckon with reality. You know, not that people don’t accidentally date a serial killer. I know that some serial killers are better at hiding it. These, these two aren’t. But and so she tells the story and Henry goes, so you really didn’t get along with your daddy? It’s like, that’s—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: For a serial killer I guess pretty good. But for a normal human being, that’s not the response, you know? 


Alison Leiby: No, no. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s the understatement of the millennium. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And finally, Becky says to him, is it true. You killed your momma. He’s like, Oh, how do you know that? She said, Otis, told me but I promised him I wouldn’t say anything, and here I am saying it. And she says, Well, how did that happen? And because obviously you must have had a bad relationship with her. And Henry says, I stabbed her. And Becky says—


[clip of Tracy Arnold]: Otis said you hit her with a baseball bat. 


[clip of Michael Rooker]: Well, he’s mistaken. 


[clip of Tracy Arnold]: She must have treated you real bad. 


Halle Kiefer: And then he goes. My mother was a whore. And starts to go off about how she’s a whore, which is like obviously a whole part of it. But he’s like, it wasn’t what she did that was a problem, was how she did it. So basically, unfortunately, Alison, how she did it is making Henry watch her have sex with these Johns that she brought back to the house. 


Alison Leiby: Oy. 


Halle Kiefer: And sometimes would dress him up as a dress and make him watch as a child. And then she and his date were would laugh at him. Now, that doesn’t sound funny to me. Doesn’t sound like a laugh riot. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: Must be one of those had to be there type of things. Okay. Because laughing, in that situation, no, I don’t think so. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I have a hard time imagining anyone laughing. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And unfortunately, in response to that, Becky says, Henry, I feel like I know you. I feel like I’ve known you forever and then reaches over and grabs his hand and you’re like, oh, girl. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, no. 


Halle Kiefer: But then, now Henry feels free to tell his story about killing his mother, which is, he says, like on the night of the 14th, they had an argument. She and Henry got into a fight and he shot her. And Becky’s like, wait I thought you said you stabbed her. And he goes, oh right, yeah, I stabbed her. So again, I think we’re suppose to establish like, we cannot trust Henry. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s a unreliable narrator. And then also, again, went on to later make a ton of false confessions, like.


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: So even in these moments where he seems like he might be upstanding or like, like, do something nice for Becky. 


Alison Leiby: Honest. 


Halle Kiefer: Or he’s honest, he has some way. He’s not. You know, he is he’s a pathological liar, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Also bro, you just said it, like, keep your stories straight. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, he’s not— 


Alison Leiby:  I shouldn’t talk. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, maybe. Yeah, maybe it’s better that he didn’t. Just then Otis comes home from selling drugs, and Becky and Henry sort of jerk their hands apart, and he says, is there anything good on TV? Then we see Becky, exploring beautiful Chicago looking at store fronts, getting a cup of coffee, walking around, thinking about that handsome serial killer slash drifter who lives with her brother. 


Alison Leiby: Mm. 


Halle Kiefer: That night. She when she gets home, she tells Otis and Henry that she got a job washing hair at a beauty salon. And Otis starts teasing her about stripping again. And unfortunately, Alison, the incest perpetrated on them in their childhood was is continuing into adulthood because he starts to get really worked up about it is like, when are you going to dance naked for us? 


Alison Leiby: Oh no. 


Halle Kiefer: He clearly has a hard on for a sister. And she’s like. I was never—


Alison Leiby: There’s like a flash of that in that trailer. Like of what I believe is this scene. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And she’s like, I’m never I was never naked. I had a costume on. It wasn’t very big, but like, I was always dressed, so like a go go bar and, you know, she’s like, Oh, I did get something today when I was out and she shakes out. She has an I heart Chicago shirt. And Otis says, well put it on now, and she’s okay, but turn around as she’s trying to change her brother, like basically starts to, like, turn around to look at her in her bra. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, no. 


Halle Kiefer: And then, like, turns back when she, like, puts a head it over her head. And Henry says, Well, what does it say? Henry can’t read. And she says, I heart Chicago. 


Alison Leiby: It’s honestly impressive that he’s been like. On a road trip. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Not being able to read. 


Halle Kiefer: Well just the signs. You’re right. I feel like that would be hard. 


Alison Leiby: Like. Yeah. The signs, the. I mean, the map. 


Halle Kiefer: Otis asks Becky to get him a beer, and when she does and walks back over to him, Alison. Otis grabs his sister’s arm and pulls her in for a kiss. 


Alison Leiby: Mm. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, at this point in the movie, what would you do? 


[voice over]: What would you do? 


Alison Leiby: Well. I’m out of there. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. Mm hmm.


Alison Leiby: Like. I’ve got a job, and I’m. If I’m her. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: I’ve got the job. If I need to get an advance or some cash to go find a place to live on my own. I will just find out how to do that and not be in this place anymore. I would like to leave town. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: But. I don’t know where to go, but I’m out of that home. That’s not happening anymore. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, and I think and unfortunately, the truth of it is like she just comes from such a fucked up family and background. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: That, like, she doesn’t have that ability to be like. And it’s a it’s, it’s her brother, you know? So it’s I feel like family abuse is like, you know, I feel like that kind of abuse undermines your ability to, like, really move through the world in a lot of different ways. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And it also would make you be like, well, if my brother’s like this. Like, okay, well then everywhere it’s going to be like this, so I might as well just stay. What could be better? Like sort of a gives you like this, like nihilism, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And then again to set up the fact that, like she has this crush on Henry. Henry grabs Otis by the back of the head and be like, Don’t do that. She’s your sister. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, and unfortunately, like, everyone has terrible sexual boundaries because of the incestuous rape going on in their homes. And Otis was like, I was just kidding. I was just joking around. I wasn’t actually going to do it, I won’t do it again. And he’s like, kind of put out and glowering at Henry. And Becky says, It serves you right. And she tells them, I’m going to clean up. Why don’t you guys get out of the house, go get a beer. Which is, I think, smart. Like, just get out here. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Yeah. Let’s get some distance between her and them. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So it takes Otis a minute but she says, let me go spruce up. And so of course Becky, thinks like Henry’s her white knight. He stood up for her. He’s literally a serial killer. But she doesn’t know that. Alison, Henry and Otis go out to the hot happenings Chicago night. They pick up two sex workers for the evening, and they park in an alley to fuck them in the car. 


Alison Leiby: Terrific. 


Halle Kiefer: I mean, they must’ve been at it for about 10 minutes before Henry strangles his date, killing her. And when the other sex worker sees it and starts screaming for her friend. 


Alison Leiby: Understandably. 


Halle Kiefer: Otis murders her in a panic. 


Alison Leiby: Jesus Christ. 


Halle Kiefer: I know Henry takes their bodies and basically, like. Like mannequins and dumps them in the alley before driving off. And Otis in the car. He’s freaking out because it’s like he’s killed. That’s why he was in prison. But he’s never just killed like this. You know? Like that was like a fight or, like. 


Alison Leiby: Just yeah, quote unquote, “random murder.”


Halle Kiefer: And Otis, like, what is going to happen when they find those bodies? And Henry tells him, I’ll tell you what’s gonna happen? Nothing. Nothing is going to happen. Nothing ever happens. And I think it’s like another thing in true crime is like how disposable sex workers lives are. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And that has always been historically true. And how that has to be a huge part of what we are working on. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Both as women and feminists and society in general is like. 


Alison Leiby: 100%. 


Halle Kiefer: No one can be disposable anymore. But that is also a part. It’s like all these, I mean, and like the Dahmer that was like, Oh, these young gay men meet at a bar. We’re not going to get involved with these queers, you know. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And same way it’s like I want to say in L.A., there’s I don’t know what the acronym is, but like, basically, like if it was like a sex worker or drug addict on. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Police reports, essentially, like. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like the police would write like no person involved like.


Alison Leiby: Oh, yeah, on Succession. It was like no real person involved. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: That was what they used when there were like incidents that involved either people of color or sex workers or just lower level, lower economic status employees. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And I think it’s like and that’s the police doing it you know what I mean. So it’s like one of those things where I like that it’s so entrenched in society. But Henry’s like, that’s what serial, and a lot of serial killers took advantage of that. Like I can kill sex workers, nobody gives a fuck. No one’s ever going to look for them. And like, who? Who’s going to do it? And so then he knows he can kill certain kinds of people with impunity. And he is telling Otis that. So this is like their teaching relationships, sort of like he’s telling Otis this, nothing’s gonna happen. And they go get fries, they eat in the car and Henry checks in. He’s like, Are you feeling better? And Otis says, Yeah. And back at home, Henry says, Are you really telling me you’ve never killed before? He’s like, I’m not saying I haven’t, but I really then. I had no choice. Like, that was like a survival like. And he didn’t explain what happened, but the idea is like it was like an altercation or something. And he said, this is different. He’s like—


[clip of Michael Rooker]: It’s always the same and it’s always different. 


[clip of Tom Towles]: What do you mean?


[clip of Michael Rooker]: It’s either you or him one way or the other. 


Halle Kiefer: You know what I mean? And Otis was just like, Yeah, I guess I do. So it’s sort of like to see people. So is as adversaries to, like, kill and conquer. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And so it’s like, yeah, I didn’t have to, but in some ways, didn’t we? And I guess if you’re a serial killer, you have to rationalize it to yourself in that way because it’s like, well, not if you think about it for two seconds. But. And then Henry goes, is like, do you want a beer? And he brings Otis wine and he takes one sip and he gives it to him and he’s like, There’s only one left. So again like these small moments of friendship that, like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: You’re like Henry, if you were a serial killer. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, you could just be, like, a regular guy. But instead. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. 


Alison Leiby: You’re doing this. 


Halle Kiefer: At the salon, Becky’s hearing a racist woman ranting about how things have changed in the city, and, you know, all these, like, you know, we all know what she’s saying, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Yep, yep. 


Halle Kiefer: Some time later, Otis is home watching TV it starts going on the frits, and he freaks out. He kicks in the TV screen, and Henry goes. Why the fuck did you do that? Like, could have fixed it. He says, I just get carried away. And I think that’s things like Henry’s very, like, controlled for the most part, and is killing out of pleasure and like, you know, because he that’s his plan and Otis is more volatile, so he could sort of be more activated. But then he also does dumb stuff like this, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And Henry says, okay, let’s go shopping. So they’re going to go do some midnight shopping. By which I mean, I assume, by killing a woman and taking her TV. But it’s actually visiting a guy who just sits in a warehouse with a bunch of, like, what is clearly stolen goods. 


Alison Leiby: Stolen merch. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And they go in there and the guy’s like, I’ll sell you that TV for $50, and Otis has him turn it on. It works. It’s black and white. He’s like, no, no, we need a color TV. Okay? He’s like, Well, I got this bad boy for 150 or for $75 more. I will tell you, this entire set, and it’s a color TV and a video camera that they can record on. Right. 


Alison Leiby: You don’t need that. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly, it’s like oh, I guess I thought once you have two serial killers hanging out together. It couldn’t get worse, but it would get worse if they start filming all of this. Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Absolutely. 


Halle Kiefer: And Otis was just like, I’m not paying that was way more than we planned. I’ll take the $50 and the guys like, don’t come in here fucking waste my time and is shooing them out. And so, you know, Henry snaps and he takes up like, you know, the end of like an electrical, like a mike wire that like, plugs in, like the big kind of metal end. I feel bad, I don’t know the end of like, what the name of this. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like the big thick metal end of like a microphone wire wire stabs into the top of this guy’s hand. And then he and Otis just actually just start kicking the this guy Otis starts strangling him and finally Henry smashes the $50 TV over the man’s head while Otis laughs and he tells Otis, turn it on. And when it does it like electrocute the guy and like, sparks and explodes. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: Cut to the guys. And Becky enjoying the the full TV with the camera like they’re at home, like having a good time. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And so Otis films Becky and Otis dancing around making a video to send her daughter Lurleen And Otis is like so handsy and has like his hands all over his sister. And he’s like, ha ha, you know, just like it’s awful. And then Becky sort of like, pushes him away and starts dancing with Henry and then, like, sort of playing to the camera. She kisses him like, Can you believe I did that? And so but then Otis starts to get really into it behind the camera. He’s like, Yeah, more with the hands. Henry. Like, begging him to, like, touch his sister and, like, kind of egging them on until Henry sits down is like, I’m not going to do this. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: And he has to be like, No, I’m not. I’m not more, not no more, you know? And I think what we’re supposed to think is like, this is triggering all his fucked up psychosexual stuff, like every time, like sex and the like you see something like this happen. He, like, freaks out, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Which is unfortunately going to be a problem later for Becky, as you can imagine. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I guess. 


Halle Kiefer: The next day, Otis meets with his parole officers. Who are like, Okay, you still work at the mechanic shop, you still live at the same address? He goes, Yep, everything’s fine. Of course he’s out here serial killing people. And they don’t know that. Over at the high school, we see the kid who bought drugs from him previously, like get into the passenger seat of Otis car and Otis hands him weed and, like, passes him a joint, and he puts his hand on the kid’s thigh and the kid punches him in the face and runs out and at home, Henry Henry’s like, You’re being sloppy. Like, because Otis was like, I’m going to kill that kid. I’m going to kill that high school boy for hitting me. And he’s like, If you do that, everyone will know it was you because you are the creepy guy who comes and sells everyone weed. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So if a kid turns up dead bitch, you’re going to prison. 


Alison Leiby: You’re suspect one. 


Halle Kiefer: And Otis was like, fine, I won’t kill him, but I wish I could kill somebody. And Henry says, Yeah, let’s you and me go for a ride, Otis and so they drive into the night. And I think this was to draw a parallel between, like, Becky’s relief at being able to tell Henry about her. Like, father. Henry is having a relief, telling Otis all of this, like he’s telling him, Here’s how you become a serial killer, because he finally has someone to confide in. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, oh, I could tell someone the worst, most terrible parts of myself. And the worst part for him is I’m capable of and enjoy murder, right? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And unfortunately, that being two peas in a pod means they could shore each other up. Right? 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And so Henry drives them down onto the highway and parks. And Henry gives Otis a gun and Otis says, What do you have in mind here, Henry? Henry says, Well, what do you think? And Otis says I genuinely don’t know. And so he tells him, Go over to the front and put up the hood. And so basically they’re posing like their car broke down under the highway. So, like, it’s kind of like a dangerous area and somebody eventually stops to help, like a good Samaritan. And the guy walks over, says, you guys need help here. And Henry turns, says, Otis, do you need help or could you do it yourself? And Otis just hauls off and shoots this guy two or three times laughing. Later we see that like they’re filming, like some guys kicking the shit out of each other at the park. And Otis is like laughing. And Henry is explaining basically, like, if you kill people, you have to switch of your modus operandi. So you cannot use a 45 and shoot people in the head every time the police will figure it out. Right. So you shot that guy, you know, left him there. So next time we kill—


Alison Leiby: Stab this one. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. So now they’re murder buddies. And Henry’s like sharing his lessons. Like, you got to keep moving. That’s why I’m always traveling. I like to leave town and kill and come back to facilitate more murder, you know? And Otis was like, wow. Like, this is like, I’ve never thought about this, you know? And he says, Otis, next time I’m going to go out of town for a month to kill basically, and then come back. And Otis says, I’m not supposed to leave the state. And what if they check in, what if I lose my job and then they check it and it’s not worth, worth it? And Henry goes, Yeah, well, no plan is perfect. And it’s sort of like, Okay, I guess so. 


Alison Leiby: That’s something. 


Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately. Alison we then see them watching a tape of them assault breaking into a couple’s house and assaulting them. The man is bound and has a white hood with bloodstains cloth on his face. And the woman, Otis, gets a woman down the chair. Is like pulling up her shirt, pulling off her bra, like pulling down her underwear. Just then, the couple’s teen son walks in and Henry tackles him and wrestles him to the ground and in front of his mother or female family member but I’m assuming mother breaks this kid’s neck. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: And then Otis breaks the woman’s neck, and they make it look really easy like that. Like nineties action. Like where you just, like, snap someone’s neck. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I just got to think it’s a little more difficult than that, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison Otis breaks this woman’s neck and then just starts making out and fondling her corpse. It’s like, I guess. I guess I knew this movie could involve corpse titty sucking. 


Alison Leiby: Necrophilia, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But I was dismayed nonetheless when it arrived. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Yes. Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Henry stabs the husband to death, but then when he turns around to see Otis going to rape this woman’s corpse, Henry says, Don’t do this. So again like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: That is the line that he will not cross. 


Alison Leiby: I’m glad there is one. 


Halle Kiefer: I guess. But he still killed this whole family. 


Alison Leiby: No, no, I mean, awful, but. 


Halle Kiefer: I guess better, too. I mean, look, I mean, six dozen of one, half dozen of the other. But I mean, I guess I’d rather be raped after I was murdered rather than before. 


Alison Leiby: Well, after. Absolutely. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. So, you know, I mean, again, like the lines in the sand are arbitrary at a certain point. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So back at home, Otis rewinds the tape and Henry says, What are you doing? And Otis, says, I want to see it again. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: And he plays it in slow motion of him ripping off this woman’s top and her bra and her screaming, which has me asking the question. Alison, at this point in the film, who will survive? 


[voice over]: Who will survive?


Alison Leiby: I’m going to stick with my. Original. One of them dies. But I’m going to guess instead that Henry kills Otis after Otis kills his sister. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay, great. I will say nothing. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: But an excellent an excellent guess. 


Alison Leiby: It’s something, you know. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. At the salon, Becky gets this call from home and talks to her daughter, Lurleen, and her mother. And you could tell she’s sort of like, I don’t maybe I should go home. Like, things are weird here and my daughter needs me. And my mother seems to be saying, like, come home, you know, and she’s like. 


Alison Leiby: Go home. 


Halle Kiefer: Because this whole thing was like, bring Lurleen up. And Becky’s like, I don’t think that that’s a right move. 


Alison Leiby: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. 


Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, Henry is driving him and Otis around, and Otis is just filming women and leering as they drive around. And suddenly there’s a crash and the camera smashes into a parked car. And in a rage, Otis throws the entire camera out the window and shatters in a million pieces. And Henry’s pissed he’s like, Why did you throw it out the window? We could have replaced the lens or something. Like we could have fixed it. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And Otis was like, Oh, come on. And now, Henry and Otis are in a genuine fight. And Otis was like, I want a beer. Do you want one? And Henry slams on the brakes. He’s like, If you want a beer, then go have a beer. And they’re like, how you can’t be a serial killer and be having a passive aggressive fight with another serial killer. Like. 


Alison Leiby: No, no, no, no, no. That doesn’t work. A tiff.


Halle Kiefer: He’s like, I’m not in the mood for a beer with you. Yeah. Meanwhile, that night, Becky plays cards with Henry at home. She says I quit my job, and I think I’m going to move back home to be with Lurleen and my mother. I’ll live with her. I won’t be able to make as much money, but like my. It turns out her ex is now in jail for murder. So she’s like, So if he’s gonna be in jail, it’s actually a lot better for me to go home. And Becky asks Henry, do you want to come home with me? Like, do you want to just go? And Henry says, When are you leaving? And Becky says, Tomorrow. This is. This is something of the past. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: If someone said, do you want to move somewhere with me? I understand. They’re sort of like, they don’t have a ton of work, so it doesn’t really matter as much or it feels like there’s more movement. But I was like, I need, like, a week to think about this kind of thing, I mean tomorrow?


Alison Leiby: Yeah. That’s not like a we’re leaving tomorrow. Make a ch—


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, exactly. And Henry tells her I’ll think about it, and Becky says, Better think fast. And I think Becky is sort of like the emblematic of, like, the normal life that Henry could have. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, she’s the most normal person he’s ever met. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah and like connected with. 


Halle Kiefer: And so it’s sort of like if you were to go, it would be an attempt at a normal life, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: He says, well, either way, before you go, let’s get out for a steak dinner. I have a new credit card I want to try out. Obviously, that he stole from like that couple he murdered, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Also, that’s like not how you describe a new credit card that you were issued. 


Halle Kiefer: No, no it is not. 


Alison Leiby: To try out. [laughs] 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So he goes to the TV room and Otis is just playing the murder film. The snuff film. They made and he shuts at off. And then Becky walks in behind Henry, and he’s like, oh, he’s passed out. And Becky takes Henry into the spare room where she’s been sleeping and takes off her shirt trying to get something going. But Henry is like clearly awkward and fucked up around sex in general, so he’s not really, like, engaging. And then suddenly Otis is in the doorway and he says, I hope I’m not interrupting anything. Clearly hoping to see Henry have sex with his sister. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And so Henry. Becky puts her shirt back on, and Henry’s like, I’m going to go out and get cigarettes and but now Otis is like all turned on. And so he’s like, How about you get your poor old brother a beer? So we know he’s going to try to make a move on her. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But we follow Henry. He goes to buy two packs of Kool’s and the cashier goes, how about the Bears? And Henry goes. Fuck the Bears. [laughs] Of course he you know, failed her. Or he has in this moment. He wasn’t able to fuck Becky. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And he walks back, he starts talking to a woman with a dog. The dog’s name is Delores. Which I’m like, that’s the cutest. 


Alison Leiby: I love that. What kind of dog? 


Halle Kiefer: It’s a half shiatsu, half something else they said, and I can’t remember. 


Alison Leiby: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: But it’s a little. It looks like a little little—


Alison Leiby: A little one


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, like a little scruffy dog. And so, of course, she heads back to her apartment. He starts following her. By the time Henry arrives home, he finds Otis raping his sister. So Otis is full of raping Becky in the living room. And by the time Henry gets home, he has a shirt around her neck strangling her Otis and Henry brawl. And Otis gets Henry down on the couch and is scrambling around for a weapon and grabs you see, like a ratting comb. Like it’s like a comb with, like, almost like a pointed end. 


Alison Leiby: Yes yes yes. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s like a very narrow comb. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And he picks it up. He’s about to stab the pointed shaft of the comb into Henry’s chest. And so Becky steps up and stabs her brother in the eye to stop him. 


Alison Leiby: Whoa. 


Halle Kiefer: And he starts screaming. He falls to the ground, he’s writhing around, and Henry ends up stabbing him to death. And Becky is screaming and sobbing, and she’s like, I didn’t want you to kill him. Why didn’t you call the cops? It’s like, bitch, they weren’t going to, no one was going to call the cops. Like. Also you stabbed a guy in the eye this was going to happen. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And he’s like— 


[clip of Tracy Arnold]: What are we going to do? [screaming]


[clip of Michael Rooker]: Let me think. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison. He puts Otis’s body into the tub and starts dismembering him. He decapitates him, and you literally see him pick up the head and put it into a garbage bag. 


Alison Leiby: I. I don’t think I ever need to see someone. Pick up a head. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m with you on that. But he starts breaking down the body. And next thing, we see we see him and Becky bringing their normal suitcases and then like a big suitcase. 


Alison Leiby: Like a large one. 


Halle Kiefer: Large one, blood on it, put it in the back of the trunk and they drive it to a bridge and they dump the bags out into the river. So you still have the big suitcase, but the contents are now in the river. And then, Alison, they’re just they’re just driving. And Henry is like do you want to list the radio. Becky says, What do we do? What do we do now? We killed him. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, that was so scary. 


Alison Leiby: Great question. 


Halle Kiefer: And he says. Well, my sister is raising horses at a farm in San Bernardino. We should go out there and we can stay as long as we want. And I was like, What is the sister’s situation? That she has a horse farm? And I’m like, Oh, he’s lying. There’s no horse farm. 


Alison Leiby: Right. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: We don’t even know if he has a sister—


Alison Leiby: He’s never told the truth once. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s never mentioned her. Exactly. And Becky says, Well, what about Lurleen? And Henry says, I promise you we’ll send for her as soon as we get there. And Becky says, I love you, Henry. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: And he replies, I guess I love you, too. Do you want to listen to the radio? And they listen to a song that’s called Loving You is My Mistake. And they drive out of town, Alison, and they finally they stop. It’s like two in the morning, stop in a motel, and they get the room and Henry washes up while Becky strums the guitar, which again we know he got from a, a hitchhiker he’d killed. And Henry says, Oh, we better get to bed now. And it’s like, Oh, no. His deep seated sexual trauma is about to hit up against his serial killer urge because Becky is going to make a move on him and that is going to activate him. 


Alison Leiby: Yes of course. 


Halle Kiefer: And at dawn, we see Henry is shaving in the sink. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, no. 


Halle Kiefer: Before going out to the car and getting in and driving away alone. And later on a lone country road he gets he gets up and he opens the trunk. He takes out the suitcase they kept, which is smeared with blood and is now very heavy. 


Alison Leiby: There’s two people in it? 


Halle Kiefer: I wasn’t sure. I’m assuming there are two people in it. I wasn’t sure if they dumped out Otis’ body  in the river or so if this is just Becky’s. But either way.


Alison Leiby: Either way, Becky’s in it. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And throws it into a field and drives away. The Portrait of a Serial Killer. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: I know. 


Alison Leiby: Wow. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, what are some fatal mistakes you think people may have made in this film? 


Alison Leiby: Oh, sure. 


[voice over]: Fatal mistakes. 


Alison Leiby: Well, there’s a I mean like, separate from, you know, cycles of sexual violence, family trauma, really an abuse lead to this kind of behavior. But I think her going to Chicago and staying with them was a pretty big. Mistake. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes, absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: Like she should not have done that. And also, like at the first brush of it, getting rough should be. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Out of there. Like she should be out of there. And then it’s like unfortunately, like so many of the characters in this movie, like just blinded by the horrific. Trauma that they. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: Suffered through. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: But it’s kind of you know, it’s hard to to be like, why didn’t they do that? 


Halle Kiefer: But yeah, also I wanted to say that because I was looking. I’m like, oh, is there like, was there a Becky? What, did he have a sister? 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Alison Ottis Toole had a 11 year old niece named Frieda Lorraine Becky Powell, who they believe was killed by Henry Lee Lucas. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay. 


Alison Leiby: She had a mild intellectual disability and escaped from a juvenile detention center. And they think that maybe they they used her to lure people. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, my God. 


Halle Kiefer: To their demise? Yeah, I would say, unfortunately, mistakes were made by all of society is sort of the larger issue. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Unfortunately. That is to say, I think that’s like it’s like a serial killer because they’re not operating using normal logic. It’s like we’re trying to understand them, but it’s like they understand how to operate within society because they are like they’re the worst of us, so they understand us in a different way. And that’s not to give them, like so much credit or they’re so smart. It’s just sort of like most people have to go through the world assuming people are not going to serial kill them or be horrible. And then once you’re in those situations where people are abusive or you’re tangling with this kind of shit, you are then in their world. I don’t know. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s just so scary. 


Alison Leiby: There are different rules. There’s different. Yeah, it’s just. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: This is this. Like, even though like, this is a scary one. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: And I think, like, the like. The ending of like, here’s this one person that was probably an out for him, like the one person who could have maybe. He loved or could have loved. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. 


Alison Leiby: And had a normal life with like it feels like that was like the last exit off this. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes exactly. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, not that he hasn’t killed, like, tons of people, but it’s like, oh, there is no. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, like. 


Alison Leiby: Ending this. 


Halle Kiefer: And he doesn’t want that. Like, he like it to, to choose normalcy is beyond him, you know. Also. Yeah. So I guess he killed Becky Powell when she was 15 and when he confessed to her murder. But again, he’s a liar. So you can’t believe any of this. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: He he said he lured her to a field in Denton, Texas, stabbed her, engaged in necrophilia with her corpse, dismembered, decapitated her, and scattered her body parts. And again, it’s like there is you know, there is they believe that he did kill them. But all the details of the murders, like you cannot trust him because he is not he is just a liar. Yeah. So I don’t know. Fatal mistake being friends with a serial killer. I mean, if you know someone is a serial killer, you got to do your best to break off that friendship. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah put some distance there. 


Halle Kiefer: If you can. Um, and then, finally, where would you put Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer on the spooky scale, Alison. 


[voice over]: A spooky scale. 


Alison Leiby: I feel like, yes, this did play out as a drama less than a horror movie somehow. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: But I do think it was very scary. And again, like the grounded realism of like both like what happens in the movie and like, the way it’s shot. Like, I think like this is a, a five. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Alison Leiby: For me.


Halle Kiefer: You know—


Alison Leiby: What about, you? 


Halle Kiefer: You know, having revisited it again reading this I’m going to say a seven. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Because there, yeah, there’s not a lot of unrelenting fear but the groundedness. Did fuck me up and I think there’s a lot of, like, really elegant choices that are scarier. For example, like, not seeing him kill Becky, you just see him get in the car and drive away without her. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s like, you know, And I think allowing, you know, your mind to sort of enter those realities are much scarier. Yeah, I’m going to give it a seven. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. But a great a great film. Not just not what I thought it was going to be when people talk about it, but it’s an excellent film, an extremely well-made film. And yeah, thank you, everyone. Alison survived, unfortunately. But. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, I continued to live another episode. 


Halle Kiefer: Fighting for her life out here. 


Alison Leiby: Truly. You’re not making it easy to make it out of these. 


Halle Kiefer: I never, ever. Well, thank you for listening, everybody. We really appreciate it. And we will talk to you soon. 


Alison Leiby: And please, if you can keep it spooky. 


Halle Kiefer: Don’t forget to follow us at Ruined podcasts and Crooked Media for show updates. And if you’re as opinionated as we are, consider dropping us a review. Ruined is a Radio Point and Crooked Media production, we’re your writers and hosts Halle Kiefer and Alison Leiby. The show is executive produced by Alex Bach, Sabrina Fonfeder and Houston Snyder, and recorded and edited by Kat Iossa. From Crooked Media our executive producer is Kendra James with production and promotional support from Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin, Julia Beach, Caroline Dunphy, and Ewa Okulate.