Natural Born Killers (1994)

R   |    |  Crime, Drama


Natural Born Killers (1994) Poster

Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

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7.3/10
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  • Woody Harrelson and Carol-Renee Modrall in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Juliette Lewis and Tom Sizemore in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers (1994)

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Reviews & Commentary

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3 July 2002 | bob the moo
Was it worth all the controversy?
Mickey and Mallory Knox are lovers. She is beaten and abused by her father until Mickey rescues her by killing them. Bound together by blood they go on a killing spree across Middle America. As they go they become media celebrities as the television crews glamorise what they do. However it isn't long before they are caught and sent to prison. However a live television interview with Mickey offers him the chance to turn events to his advantage.

Stone's film was cursed with controversy in the UK. Mostly because it was seen as glamorising or trivialising serial killers but also because it had been originally a script by Tarantino, who had already had one film banned in the UK at this point. The media frenzy was uncalled for because really the film takes swipes at the media for the way they build killers up into minor stars, with column inches and TV specials etc. However the film benefited from the hype by covering over the fact that it isn't really a very good film!

The first half is mainly them killing people, and can get pretty unpleasant and relentless to watch. The second half allows for more comment on the media etc and is better for it – despite still having violence glamorised to some extent. The film is Stone trying to be hip and almost getting it. He uses comic book images and inter-cut shots of violence etc to show what's in the characters heads during the film. It is quite well done but doesn't feel like Stone.

Sadly his content lets him down. Only bits of the second half feel like he's making some kind of point and this is almost nullified by the fact that the violence of the first half is so well put together and full of clever ideas (like basing them on old TV shows) that it could be accused on being hypocritical by attacking the media for glamorising killers. However he does get good performances.

Woody Harrelson (Woody in Cheers! What have they done to you?) is really good if a little too convincing. Lewis is OK but I always find her whiney voice to be irritating. Solid roles are put in by the support cast – and they are used to illustrate the points made in the second half. Robert Downey Jnr is great, Tom Sizemore is good and Tommy Lee Jones just plays a cartoon character.

As a pop-culture movie it's worth watching as the video editing etc is really effective (even if it does feel like an old man trying to fit in), however as social comment it is bogus and has been done better elsewhere. The second half is worth watching but sadly this means having to sit through the whole first hour.

Overall this only made money in the UK because the media frenzy around it where all the `we'll all be killed in our beds' tabloids made a big deal out of it. Without that this would have been a failed message movie that falls into the very trap that it criticises others for – glamorising violence and murderers. Worth watching for the visual effects and nothing more.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the jovial guards who gets shot and killed by Mickey, when he begins his escape from prison, after the interview with Wayne Gale.


Quotes

Wayne Gale: Where's Roger?
Roger: I'm right here!
Wayne Gale: Where's Scotty?
Roger: He's hit. I-I think he's dead.


Goofs

When Scagnetti is in the room with the prostitute, her bra keeps disappearing and re-appearing ("Director's Cut").


Crazy Credits

The end credits are superimposed over a vast amount of stock footage, ranging from the future of Mickey and Mallory, stock A-Bomb tests, childhood photos of Mickey and Mallory, time-lapse footage, scenes from the movie, and so on.


Alternate Versions

The Director's Cut features roughly 4 minutes of material removed from the theatrical version prior to release in order to get a R rating. Here are details of the additional scenes, in chronological order:

  • there are three additional shots in the pre-credits scene in the diner. The first is found when Mallory knocks Sonny (Richard Lineback) over the partition. In the theatrical cut, the scene immediately cuts to Sonny's friend (James Gammon) getting up out of his chair to intervene. But in the Director's Cut however, there is an additional shot of Mallory slamming Sonny's head into a table, and blood spraying across the surface of the table. Next, when Mickey slits Sonny's friend's stomach, there are three additional slashes not found in the theatrical cut. Lastly, as Mallory jumps up and down on Sonny's back, there is an additional shot of her grabbing his blood soaked head and pounding it into the ground;
  • the death of Ed Wilson (Rodney Dangerfield) has one additional shot as Wilson is leaning up against the wall prior to being dunked into the fish-tank, and Mickey hits him with the tire-iron across the back of the head;
  • as Mallory drives to the garage after arguing with Mickey about the hostage (Corinna Laszlo), there is a brief shot of Mickey raping the hostage in the motel room;
  • Jack Scagnetti's (Tom Sizemore) murder of Pinky (Lorraine Farris) contains an additional shot of Scagnetti with his hands around her throat and her struggling underneath him, whilst he keeps on saying to her, "I'm only kidding, I'm only kidding";
  • when Mickey kills the pharmacist (Glen Chin) at DrugZone, there are two additional shots; one showing the pharmacist's blood spraying onto the glass divide, the other showing the clerk falling to his knees and dying;
  • the scene where the police beat up Mallory outside the pharmacist contains a few extra shots of policemen punching her;
  • as Mickey attempts to kill the guards in the cell after the interview has been terminated, there are several additional shots showing members of Wayne Gale's (Robert Downey Jr.) crew being shot and killed;
  • after Mickey has taken control of the TV crew, he 'persuades' Kavanaugh (Pruitt Taylor Vince) to come with them by breaking his fingers;
  • the prison riot sequences contain numerous additional shots. Four particularly obvious ones are: a guard is shoved into a washing machine, which is then turned on; a guard has his head pushed in under a steam press; a guard is thrown into an industrial oven; a guard is flung from the top story of the prison;
  • the scene where Scagnetti sprays mace in Mallory's eyes is longer, with a more sustained spraying, whilst the guards hit her;
  • a tracking shot in a barber's during the riot show inmates slitting the throats of other inmates;
  • during the riot, the scene where the prisoner throws a stick of dynamite into a door way is extended; after the dynamite has been thrown, there is a shot of the explosion and a prisoner being flung from the room and rebounding off the wall;
  • in the scene where Mickey rescues Mallory from Jack Scagnetti, there are additional shots of the bullets hitting the guards;
  • there are more shots of Jack Scagnetti trashing about on the ground after being stabbed, prior to being shot;
  • when Mallory holds the gun to Scagnetti's head and asks him if he still wants her, in the theatrical version, she pulls the trigger immediately. In the Director's Cut, there is a shot of Scagnetti screaming;
  • as Mickey, Mallory, and the others flee Mallory's cell, they are ambushed, and Wayne Gale's crew is wiped out. In the theatrical version, little is seen of this, but in the Director's Cut, there are clear shots of his crew being gunned down, especially Julie (Terrylene), who is killed in slow motion;
  • during the standoff at the stairs, Dwight McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones) orders the guards to open fire at Mickey because Kavanaugh (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who Mickey is using as a shield, is already dead. In the theatrical version, when McClusky gives the order to fire, there is an awkward cut to Mallory holding Wayne Gale, and the guards never fire. In the Director's Cut, the guards open fire, riddling Kavanaugh's (still living) body with bullets.
  • after Mallory shoots Wayne Gale's hand, there is a brief shot through the hole created by the bullet, looking down at McClusky;
  • McClusky's death is far more explicit. After being dragged down from the gate by the inmates, in the theatrical version, we never see him again, but in the Director's Cut, after a moment, a prisoner raises a spear, with McClusky's severed head perched on top;
  • Wayne Gale's death scene is longer and includes more shots of the bullets hitting him;
  • numerous additional shots of the subliminal demons are scattered throughout the film.


Soundtracks

Back in Baby's Arms
Written by
Bob Montgomery
Performed by Patsy Cline
Courtesy of MCA Records

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Crime | Drama

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