Confessions of a Serial Killer (1985)

Confessions of a Serial Killer (1985)
  • 531
  • R
  • Genre: Crime
  • Release year: 1985 ()
  • Running time: 89 min
  • Original Title: Confessions of a Serial Killer
  • Voted: 531

After being arrested, a Texas man begins confessing to the brutal murder of over 200 women. He recounts his random selection of victims and his traveling companions, his friend and friend's sister. But the police can't be sure whether to believe him or not until he locates a body and shows them some polaroids. Based on the true story of Henry Lee Lucas.

1Robert A. BurnsDaniel Ray Hawkins
2Dennis HillMoon Lewton
3Berkley GarrettSheriff Will Gaines
4Sidney BrammerMolly Lewton
  • Overlooked by 8

    This brilliant, unsettling film was glossed over in favor of the higher profile maelstrom of ratings controversy, "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer." That's a shame, because, like John McNaughton's brilliant low budget film, Mark Blair's "Confessions" is extremely well made, has an emphasis on documentary-like distance over horror movie theatrics, and some wonderfully seedy and intense characterizations. Genre addicts disappointed by "Henry" will be pleased by this film which "delivers the goods" in spades. Veteran genre production designer ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Re-Animator") Robert A. Burns steps in front of the camera as "Confessions'" Henry Lee Lucas substitute, Daniel Ray Hawkins. Nondescript and passive, a captured Hawkins relates the murderous swath he cut across the rural South to skeptical cops in a series of flashbacks that include his abusive childhood, his routine of picking up female hitchhikers, home invasions, and quick stop holdups turned bloodbaths, all documented via his trusty Polaroid camera. Closer to the actual events than "Henry," "Confessions" gives us a substitute Ottis Toole in the form of "Ole Moon," Daniel's partner in slime, an overweight homosexual serial killer who brings along his equally deranged sister for the ride. Although the last act is a tad anticlimatic and the secondary characters' performances are sometimes uneven, but this is an excellent, shocking movie. Like "Henry," it was shot on 16mm by local filmmakers, sat on the shelf for many years, has many similarities in tone and style, and was snatched up to capitalize on the success of a certain Jonathan Demme film when serial killers were hot stuff. Concorde even whipped up ad art with a guy in a Hannibal Lector mask! Aided immeasurably by a creepy synth score by William Penn and solidly directed by Blair, don't watch this one alone.


  • Worth Seeing by 10

    It is ashame a movie like this falls through the cracks and does not get the attention it fully deserves.

    This movie got caught up at the same time as "Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer" and lost. What a mistake. As much as I like Henry, this movie outdoes it. Creepy, slimly, it has it all to make a great horror movie and really shows you how a serial killer would act without the over the top gore or scenes.

    A little bit of info-The lead actor was the set designer on 2 famous films in the horror genre. Both the original TCSM and Re-Animator.

    I then heard he got stricken with cancer and is no longer with us.

    Sucks, such a talented person.

    Please get this movie to DVD, as it deserves it!

  • A cinematic assault by 7

    This film takes the glamor out of serial killin'. The titular murder is a simple man, and his country-boy manner and affability caused me to like him in the scenes where he was not hacking at women and then copulating with their corpses. The happy-go-lucky sidekick character--an essential element of the Henry Lee Lucas story--is especially sleazy in this film, which is a nice touch, I think. The fact that he is named "Moon" only sweetens the pot. I am a fan of disturbing cinema, and this film definitely disturbs. I found "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" absolutely unwatchable, simply due to its lack of plot, characters, and satisfying gore. This movie, on the other hand, boasts down-home characters, good performances, vile acts of posthumous sodomy, and paints a gritty portrait of what it is like to house an insatiable bloodlust. The other obvious advantage over "Henry" is that the more acclaimed picture lacked the proper plot structure necessary for such a film. This movie, on the other hand, with its flashback setup, is a tasty treat from start to finish. I give it three stars out of five.

  • Terror is a Man-Robert A. Burns is Brilliant by 10

    This movie isn't kidding. That's why so many comments are hostile to the extreme. The late Robert A. Burns plays the serial killer who's confessing, and he's unforgettable. It's one of those performances that really get you because there's no pretense in his acting. Burns plays a guy who, on the surface, seems pretty ineffectual: polite, soft spoken, and when dealing with the police, always upbeat and gentle. But when the seasoned sheriff starts to interrogate our friend, this soft spoken fellow never breaks a sweat nor raises the tone or timber of his voice as he tells of one murder after another after another. I know of no other actor who has so vividly created this kind of sociopath on the screen before. Burns never plays it up. Rather, the contradictions he seamlessly illustrates in this character continually draw us into his horrible world. That's why all these folks have written negative, hostile comments. Burns gets to you in a way that's profoundly unsettling. You can't take you eyes off him. The film itself takes the approach that the world exists to provide killers like this with toys to play with. It relentlessly positions the viewer in the center of the sociopath's experience, creating a world that defies civilized restraint, tenderness of any kind, and replaces all with a cold and casual cruelty. This is a film that reeks of endgame; God is dead and the beasts rely on instinct and the smell of blood to survive. Not a pleasant film, for sure, but in it's own right a kind of classic because it fulfills its goals without generalizing or in anyway trumping up its dark, relentless vision into something like Jason and Freddy, a faceless cartoon. This movie haunts one because the terror it illustrates comes from a very real and very recognizable human being. Terror is a man. Burns is extraordinary, and so is the film.

  • Gritty and Realistic by 8

    This is a very strong entry in the serial killer genre. Robert A. Burns portrayal of Daniel Ray Hawkins (a very thinly veiled character based on the notorious serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas), is disturbingly low-key and realistic. The film itself has a gritty, dirty feel that also adds to the realism. The acts of violence are suitably brutal but lack any real gore, which really doesn't deter from the film at all. CONFESSIONS plays out more like a case study than a "horror" film. Those seeking blood and guts may want to look elsewhere, but if you are looking for a good psychological scare, this may be the one for you. Definitely not for the casual horror goer, this film may be disturbing to those who enjoy mainstream horror fare. Every bit as good as the more popular HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (also a great film). Highly recommended 8/10

1Layton Blaylockcinematographer
2William Penncomposer
3Mark Blairdirector
4Sheri Gallowayeditor
5Cecyle Osgood Rexrodeproducer