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FAQ for
Badlands (1973) More at IMDbPro »

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FAQ Contents

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Badlands can be found here.

Fifteen-year old Holly Sargis (Sissy Spacek) becomes infatuated with 25-year-old garbage collector Kit Carruthers (Martin Sheen) because he reminds her of teen idol James Dean. After Carruthers murders Holly's father, Holly describes how she and Kit then embark on a killing spree that took them across South Dakota and the Badlands of Montana.

Badlands was filmed from a screenplay written by American film-maker Terrence Malick, who also directed the movie. Though the story and characters are fictional, it's reputed that the story is loosely based on the real-life killing spree of 19-year-old Charles Starkweather and his 14-year-old girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate, who murdered eleven people in the Midwestern U.S. states of Nebraska and Wyoming between December 1957 and January 1958.

It is never revealed whether they were shot or not. Although, in real life both of them were shot and stabbed multiple times. The woman was brutally raped, as well.

Kit stops to buy gas from an oilwell digger living in a trailer, but the man refuses to sell him any. Kit offers to swap his Cadillac for the man's beat-up pickup truck, but the man isn't interested. Kit pulls out a gun is is just about to shoot the man when he notices a helicopter approaching. Knowing that the copter won't be there to give them a ride, he orders Holly to make a run for the car, but she refuses, having decided to no longer hang with Kit. Kit sends the man running, tells Holly to meet him at the Grand Coulee Dam at 12 noon on NewYear's Day 1964, shoots one of the men in the helicopter, then drives off in the Cadillac. With her hands up, Holly faces the helicopter pilot. Kit stops at a gas station for a fill-up and to toss out Holly's books and clothes but drives away quickly when he sees a policecar passing the station. The cops take pursuit and capture Kit when he surrenders by shooting out his tire and greeting them with his raised hands. Kit and Holly are taken to a military hangar where Kit charms the soldiers with his witty humor. He and Holly are then flown back to South Dakota where Holly finishes her narration by saying that she got off with probation and later married the son of the lawyer who defended her. Kit was sentenced to die in the electric chair, and six months later he was executed.

Starkweather was executed by electric chair 17 months later at the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Fugate served 17 years at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women before her release in 1976. She moved to Lansing, Michigan, married Frederick Clair, and changed her name to Caril Ann Clair.


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