Natural Born Killers (1994)
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Natural Born Killers is based on a 1990 screenplay of the same name, written by Quentin Tarantino. NBK was Tarantino's third feature length script, after the little known My Best Friend's Birthday (1987) and True Romance (1993). Tarantino had hoped to make NBK himself for $500,000 in 1990, but after his disastrous 1987 directorial debut My Best Friend's Birthday, he found it difficult to raise funding for the project. As such, he sold the script to producers Jane Hamsher and Don Murphy in 1991 for $10,000, just before Reservoir Dogs (1992) went into production. When Dogs became an unexpected smash hit, Tarantino suddenly acquired a great deal of power in Hollywood; almost overnight, his name became a brand, and studios vied to sign him. He attempted to buy the NBK screenplay back from Hamsher and Murphy with a view to making it as his follow up to Reservoir Dogs, but they refused to sell, as they were already searching for a studio willing to buy the screenplay and a director willing to take it on. According to Hamsher, in her book about the making of NBK, Killer Instinct, Tarantino actively tried to block the film from going into production, and lobbied the studios not to purchase the screenplay. In the end however, he was unsuccessful as Hamsher and Murphy sold the script to Warner Bros., and also brought it to the attention of writer/director/producer Oliver Stone, who was looking for something "straightforward" after the difficulty he had had during the shoot for Heaven & Earth (1993). Stone liked the material, and agreed to shoot the film as his next project. As such, with a director and producers on-board, Warner greenlit the movie. Edit (Coming Soon)
When Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) are in the desert at the start of the film, they are looking up at the stars, and Mickey muses, "The whole world's coming to an end Mal." Mallory responds to this by dreamingly saying, I see angels Mickey. They're coming down for us from heaven. And I see you riding a big red horse. And you're driving the horses, whipping them, and they're spitting and frothing at the mouth. They're coming right at us. And I see the future. There's no death, cause you and I, we're angels. Perhaps the most obvious interpretation of this cryptic vision is a biblical one. In the Book of Revelation, the second of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rides a red horse; Revelation 6:4 (King James Version), And another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. The rider of the red horse is usually taken to represent war, hence he takes peace from the earth, leading people to kill one another. The horse itself is often interpreted as being red to signify the blood spilled during battle. Interestingly, of the Four Horsemen, the rider of the red horse is the only one who represents a specifically manmade agency. The other three riders all represent disasters that are above or beyond the immediate power of man; the first (on a white horse) represents strife, the third (on a black horse) is famine, the fourth (on a pale horse) is death. Only the red rider represents something which Man can visit unto himself, and as such, he is the only one of the four who actually represents humanity itself. In this sense then, the obvious symbolism is that Mickey is the red rider who will remove peace from the earth, slay his fellow man, and cause blood to be spilled. The rider of the red horse is described as having a great sword with which to kill all those he encounters. Mickey is armed for almost the entirety of the film, and seems capable of killing just about anybody at any given stage of the movie.
In the bible however, the red rider's primary function is not to kill people himself, but to remove peace from the earth, prompting Man to kill his fellow Man. In this sense, a biblical reading of Mallory's vision also makes sense. One could argue that Mickey is responsible for Jack Scagnetti's (Tom Sizemore) murder of the prostitute Pinky (Lorraine Farris), insofar as Scagnetti uses this murder to jack himself up so as to go after Mickey (as Oliver Stone makes clear on his commentary track). One could push this even further and argue that Mickey is responsible for the prison riot, which is, in very real terms, a war in which blood is spilt and in which people kill other people. In this sense then, the rider of the red horse has done his job, he has removed peace and caused the shedding of blood by means of human conflict. As such, Mallory's vision has come true.
See "The Four Horsemen (Part 3): The Red Horse", an article by Richard T. Ritenbaugh at Church of the Great God, for more information on the symbolic meaning of the red horse in the bible. Edit (Coming Soon)
Early in the movie, Mallory thinks back to when she and Mickey first met, and her memories are seen in the form of a 1950s style sitcom, complete with laugher track, self-conscious nods to the audience, generic music and gaudy sets. Specifically evoked is the show I Love Lucy (1951), which ran from 1951 to 1957, comprising 174 episodes, and which was the number one rated show in America for the years 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1957.
Speaking on the director's commentary, Oliver Stone explains that... we decided to go with the sitcom format where we could exaggerate the background and her past, the colors, the set design, like a fake sitcom. And in a sense, she lives in an artificial world; the only release for her is television, thus the channel surfing shallow mentality she possesses. In this sense then, the use of this highly stylized format is very much a thematic decision, the form of the film specifically generated by the content; Mallory's psyche is quite literally reflected in the actual look of the film itself. However, there may be even more to it than that. Dr. Heidi Nelson Hochenedel writes, The mini sitcom sequence depicts Mallory's homelife and her first encounter with Mickey. In this scene an extremely abusive dialogue between Mallory and her family is couched in the context of a sitcom. The music and laugh track distort the content of the exchange and this atrocious scene of incestuous abuse becomes trivialized. The sitcom setting numbs the audience to the grim reality of the situation. Sitcoms have a long history of trivializing abuse. In The Honeymooners (1955), one of the first sitcoms on television, Ralph's constant threat to beat Alice ("to the moon Alice, to the moon!") is portrayed as somehow funny. In the same way, Mallory's sexually abusive father seems less malign in the sitcom context.
["Natural Born Killers: Beyond Good and Evil" (1994)] Looking at the scene in this manner, the sitcom format is used very much as a commentary on culture itself; the type of culture which could produce and embrace such shows. Obviously, a father making incestuous advances towards his daughter is not humorous in any way whatsoever, but by having the laughter track occur at that precise moment of the scene, the film satirizes our culture by suggesting that we have become so morally inane, or saturated in media trivialization, that even something like incestuous abuse is merely entertainment, something to generate laughter.
There is also a sense of this scene being utilized for irony and dark humor. The setting, music, laugh track and the overall feel of a 1950s sitcom would usually portray a model, white, suburban American family with well behaved kids and clean cut parents. Mallory's family is obviously quite the opposite. Edit (Coming Soon)
No. Kevin (Sean Stone) misunderstands what his parents are talking about and he momentarily comes to believe that he is Mallory's son. This comes about when Mallory's mother (Edie McClurg) complains to her husband Ed (Rodney Dangerfield) that he hasn't touched her in fifteen years. Ed points to Kevin and says, "What about him," meaning, "If I haven't touched you in fifteen years, how do you explain our son, who's not yet fifteen". The mother however points out that the only reason Kevin was born was because Ed was drunk and thought he was having sex with Mallory, but was in fact having sex with his wife. Kevin misunderstands this to mean that Mallory is his mother. Edit (Coming Soon)
This has been a CTV production, in association with Headless Mann Ltd. and Mountain Wave Productions.
Created by Nightmare Inc.
Produced by Willie Wonderful
Assoc. Prod. by Wet N. Wonderful
Written by Haunt Ingpast
Key Grip: Randy Rodney
Best Boy: C. Noevil
Dir Photography: Wolf Larsen
1st Asst. Cam. Wild Weasel
2nd Asst. Cam. Catfish Mudbus
Camera Asst. Lindsey Scratcher
Set Doctor: Dr. Boyd I. Feelgood
Prod. Asst. Earl E. Retire A. Mint
Catering: Tom Yung Kai
Chef: Ray Bacon
Production Guru: Ali Wanta Rubya
Stunts: Falling, hitting, drowning, piercing navels, eating really yucky green stuff
Stuntman: Roy Fallalot (deceased)
Special Effects: Flash Burns
Asst. Special FX: Noah Eyebrows
Legal Services: Mary Sue Divorcem
Security: Flip Himoff
Asst. to Director: Helen Thesack
Asst. to the Producer: Lucy Morales
Casting: The Couch
Drivers: Pile Driver, Ralph Annus, Big Doughnut
The Albatross: Itself Edit (Coming Soon)
In Christianity, snakes are often seen as a symbol for Satan, or for evil in general. In the Book of Genesis, Satan takes the form of a serpent to steal into the Garden of Eden and convince Eve to taste of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge; Genesis 3:1-15, Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"  The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die'."  The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."  When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.  They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"  He said, "I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself."  And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?"  The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate."  Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."  The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life;  And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel. Satan again assumes the form of a serpent in the Book of Revelation, 20:1-3, Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.  And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;  and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. In this context then, the snake is simply the evil that assists Mickey and Mallory on their journey, as if Satan is lending a hand (for example, it is a snake which helps Mickey escape from prison during the tornado).
Having said all of that however, the Christian reading may not be the only valid reading. According to Oliver Stone on his commentary track, the snake is "a creature of knowledge", because every time Mickey encounters one, he learns something important from it. This culminates in the snake field after the Indian shaman (Russell Means) has been killed, and both Mickey and Mallory are bitten by rattlesnakes (bites which should prove fatal but don't). In relation to this scene, Stone points out, they will be consumed by the knowledge that they have absorbed from the Indian. The knowledge takes the form of the rattlesnakes, which will come at them [...] The knowledge is ripped into both of them, their consciousness is in a sense altered, and raised [...] They never die from it, it doesn't become an issue, consciousness doesn't kill them, knowledge does not kill them. Looking at it this way, the snakes represent wisdom and knowledge.
Indeed, it is worth noting that Oliver Stone is a Buddhist, and in Buddhism, snakes (known as nagas) are openly associated with wisdom and knowledge. The legend goes that Buddha gave the Prajñaparamita Sutras (or Perfection of Wisdom Sutras) to the King of the Naga (Nagaraja), because Mankind wasn't ready for them yet. When the time came, Nagaraja handed the sutras over to Nagarjuna, founder of the school of Mahayana Buddhism. Hence, snakes are seen as intelligent, wise and trustworthy, carrying none of the negative connotations associated with them in Christianity.
See "Nagas and Serpents", an article about nagas and religious symbolism; and here for the Khandro Net article on nagas. Edit (Coming Soon)
Today: "More Dead: Infant Child Sole Survivor as Intruders Raid Private Home"
Time: "Why does America love a killer?"
Esquire: "The M&M Murders"
Albuquerque Journal: "Mickey and Mallory Kill Six Teens During Slumber Party"
Newsweek: "Bloodlust: America Examines its Values in the Wake of the M&M Murders"
People: "Sex on the Run: Americas Naughtiest Couple Tell All" Edit (Coming Soon)
Whilst being interviewed by Wayne Gale in prison, Mickey relates a dream he has had since childhood: I'm running, running with the animals. In the darkness. Mr. Rabbit, bloody fangs, Christmas hat. Madness going on. We're just running. And I'm Mr. Rabbit. Eating every other animal in the forest. In his 1994 article "Natural Born Killers: Beyond Good and Evil", Dr. Heidi Nelson Hochenedel writes, The dream describes Mickey's fears and metamorphosis into a natural born killer. Mickey, the child is symbolized by Mr. Rabbit, who is weak and vulnerable to everything in his environment. His vision of the world from the perspective of fear makes him become a sort of living death. He is like the people he describes earlier in the interview, already dead and needing to be put out of their misery. Later the fear turns to rage, which is more pleasurable because it allows him to express himself through violence. This is a decisive point in his development because it represents the emergence of the demon or the will to power. The realization that he can choose whether to be afraid or angry and that the value of the world around him depends on the value he attributes to it, is liberating. This is his moment of realization. His awareness that life and death are part of a never ending cycle and that death is necessary component of rebirth, allows him to see death from a different perspective, free of fear.
[complete article available here] In this sense, Mickey is describing how he went from being a timid boy, beaten by his father and hated by his mother, to being the most feared killer in America, a man of incredible power who is capable of devouring all those around him ("eating every other animal in the forest"). The Christmas hat could represent joviality or harmlessness, the fact that Mickey might not "look" dangerous, but proves to be so (hence the "bloody fangs"). Edit (Coming Soon)
U.S. 666 was redesignated U.S. 491 in 2003 because of the connotation that the number 666 is associated with the Devil. However, the highway is very real & runs through the states of Utah (northern end in Monticello), Colorado (Cortez, which Wayne Gayle mentions) & New Mexico (through the cities of Shiprock and Gallup, the latter being the southern terminus). Edit (Coming Soon)
According to Oliver Stone, the man is Mickey's father, who killed himself by blowing his own head off with a shotgun. The three shots of the headless man all occur during scenes of great strife and tension for Mickey (during his dream at the Indian's house, during his interview with Wayne Gale, and during the prison riot), and they could represent the fact that even though his father is dead, Mickey is still not free of him. When things get tense, and when pressure starts to build, Mickey automatically thinks of his father, a man who made his early life miserable. In the third shot of the headless man, he is rising out of the chair, and starts moving towards the camera, possibly representing Mickey's fear that he may still come and "get him". Edit (Coming Soon)
During the prison interview between Mickey and Wayne Gale, Gale looses his temper with Mickey's reasons for killing and shouts at him, "Life is a hunt. I've seen it. I was there, when the shit hit the fan at Grenada. I saw it all go down at Grenada." Gale is most likely referring to the Invasion of Grenada on October 25th, 1983, when the combined forces of the United States, Jamaica and the Regional Security System invaded the island. The invasion had come about when, on October 19th, 1983, Bernard Coard, a hard-line communist, led a coup against the government of Maurice Bishop, who had been deemed insufficiently revolutionary by the Marxists in his government. After the coup, Bishop and several of his cabinet were executed by Coard, who then put the island under martial law. For four days no one was allowed to leave their homes, under threat of summary execution, and on October 24th, over 1,000 American medical students became official hostages of the regime. It was at this point that President Reagan ordered the invasion. This was the first major military operation for the United States Army since the Vietnam War, with 7,000 troops deployed under the command of Vice Admiral Joseph Metcalf, III. The invasion lasted only 24 hours, and on the evening of October 26th, the Grenadian army surrendered to the United States. The US army suffered 19 fatalities and 116 injuries; the Grenadian army suffered 45 fatalities and 358 injuries. 24 Grenadian civilians were also killed. The United Kingdom, Canada and the United Nations all condemned the invasion, but it achieved widespread popular support in the United States. October 25th is still celebrated in Grenada, under the name Thanksgiving Day. See here and here for two articles about the invasion. Edit (Coming Soon)
The character of Owen, played by Arliss Howard in an uncredited role, is the prisoner who saves Mickey, Mallory and Wayne from the ambush during the prison riot, and who takes them down into the bowels of the prison to avoid detection and help them escape. Owen is seen three times in the movie prior to his appearance during the riot. In the opening scene, he is seen sitting at a table in the diner reading a newspaper, and as Mallory walks past, he look at her and disappears. Next, after the I Love Mallory section, there is a flash cut to a shot of Owen covered in blood. Lastly, as Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) and Warden McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones) are walking out of the prison and Gale is telling McClusky how famous he is going to be, Owen is cleaning the floor behind them. On his commentary track, Oliver Stone says quite simply that Owen is Mickey and Mallory's "guardian angel figure." Interestingly, in the alternative ending for the film (available on the DVD), Owen actually kills both Mickey and Mallory when Mallory rejects his sexual advances. Edit (Coming Soon)
Natural Born Killers is a film which is perhaps most remembered for its controversial production, violent content, headline making theatrical run, delayed home video release and for constantly being mentioned in relation to crimes such as the Columbine High School Massacre of 1999 and the Richardson family murders of 2006 (see below). However, as fans are always keen to point out, there is a lot more to the film than simple violence, and when discussions of the film can leave behind this topic, they tend to focus on another aspect of the movie; the aesthetic, the form, the way the film looks. The frenzied editing techniques (the film contains more than three times the usual number of edits for a two-hour movie), the use of multi-formats (eighteen different formats in total were used; most films use one), the unusual camera angles (known as Dutch angles), the unrealistic set design, the self-conscious lighting; all of these aspects combine to give the film a look which is quite unlike anything else made up to that point (or, perhaps, since). Even reviewers who disliked the film (such as Oliver Stone's ex wife, Elizabeth), praised the technical aspects and the look of the piece.
So, why does the film look the way it does? Is there a thematic reason for it to look this way, or was it all done for empty effect? Does the unique form of the film in some way reflect the content, or is the form arbitrarily generated irrespective of content, or, worse still, is the form an attempt to cover up a lack of content? What aspects of the story prompted the filmmakers to frequently cut to black and white, to use 16mm in the middle of a scene shot in 35mm, to cut from animation to live action, to use rear projection etc?
Oliver Stone has always maintained that the film looks the way it does for a very specific reason, that the form and the content are very much linked, and whenever a scene looks a particular way, there is always a very good reason for that scene to look that way.
In his director's commentary track, Stone provides a great deal of information about the aesthetic of the movie, often going into detail about why the film looks the way it does. Unless otherwise noted, the following quotes come from the commentary to either the theatrical release or the Director's Cut. (Note: The two commentaries are different in certain sections of the film.)
Firstly, Stone discourages the viewer from attempting to unravel the meaning of every single format shift, and from reading profound meaning into every little stylistic nuance. Sometimes, the format switches simply "felt" right: "Don't expect to understand every change-over. It plays off texture, instinct, deconstruction of reality."
Similarly, editor Hank Corwin has stated, This was a film that was made from the subconscious [...] I don't know if Oliver did it that way because he was brilliant or just because he's a twisted individual [...] There was no real rhyme nor reason other than the fact it was like on a whim you'd go with a format ("Natural Born Killers: Method in the Madness" - 2014)
On the other hand however, Stone is unequivocally clear in his reasoning as to why a multi-format approach was taken in the first place, and that that approach very much carries thematic weight and works in tandem with the content of the film to establish theme: We really mixed stocks, Super 8, 16mm, 35, video, animation, to disorientate, to deconstruct. The film really deconstructs itself as it goes along, it never presents one surface. It's constantly changing. Similarly, in 2014, he pointed out, "There was never an intention to make this realistic. Ever." ("Natural Born Killers: Method in the Madness")
Indeed, Stone argues that the unique look of the film is in fact generated by whoever the central character happens to be at a particular moment; we see how they see: We're inside the heads of two killers, schizophrenic, hallucinatory, they're on the road, at the beginning of the movie, they're completely nuts, they're maniacs. The style represents what they see, we don't know what's going to happen next for the first 30 minutes, like their heads. When Robert comes in, we change the style of the movie, we go to a slicked up TV style, and then when Tommy Lee Jones comes into the movie as the crazy warden, we go to Tommy Lee's point of view, and what a crazy camera we see there. The picture is always changing style, trying to find, but not finding, the reality of where we are in the 1990s, it's Beavis and Butthead. The end of the movie is chaos, deliberately so, completely chaos. (Charlie Rose Interview with Oliver Stone)
Opening scene (diner fight): Stone refers to the frequent cuts to black and white, where dialogue is often repeated with a slightly different intonation, as "vertical cutting"; the idea behind this editing technique was to create an outer moment (the color footage) and an inner moment (the black and white footage) at the same time. For example, when Mable (O-Lan Jones) takes Mickey's order in the opening scene, the outer (color) scene shows her simply recommending the key lime pie, but the inner (black and white) scene shows her flirting with him (or thinking about flirting with him). The black and white is what you could call vertical cutting, just going vertically on the moment, and creating an inner moment and an outer moment at the same time. The waitress was feeling something else, she was coming on to Mickey in-between her color texture; it was black and white coming on to Mickey. Another example of this technique in the opening scene is found when the cowboy (James Gammon) refers to Mallory as "pussy". At that moment, there is a flash cut to Mickey covered in blood; this is Mickey's "inner" feeling, whereas in the outer scene he remains calm and collected.
Title sequence: The titles reflect the madness and fevered dream aspect which the two protagonists are living in. They're sailing, they're unstoppable. Sitcom format: See above for more information on this technique.
TV commercials: After the sitcom scene, there is a cut to a demon and then immediately to a Coca-Cola commercial. This is "to show the power of commercials to soothe on television, to remind us that we're safe."
Prison escape during tornado: The scratches on the film are an attempt to emulate "old prison break movies."
Murder of Mallory's father: The killing of Mallory's father was staged as a TV cartoon fight, complete with cartoon-esque music and sound effects, in an effort to trivialize the violence as a satirical commentary on how we have become so inured to violence, we accept it as mere frivolous entertainment.
Wedding: The wedding scene was shot in both 35mm and 8mm, because 16mm was "too clean, too slick", and not different enough from 35mm. The reason for mixing formats in the first place was that Stone wanted to " keep the look off balance, we never let you relax into the 35 slickness."
American Maniacs: We did our best to do our worst. We used stock footage, and so-called television documentary techniques, pseudo-documentary techniques [...] We were making fun of Hard Copy (1989) and Police File (1994) type movies. Motel scene: Whilst Mickey and Mallory switch channels on their TV, a massive image is projected onto the sky outside their window, and it too seems to be switching channels. This was done as a commentary upon how the entire century was violent, but Mickey and Mallory are being distracted by the artificial violence on the TV and they don't see the real horrors going on outside. Outside the window of the motel room is a panorama of 20th century violence. On the TV, there's personal violence, my own movies, Midnight Express (1978), Scarface (1983). Outside, there's Stalin, Hitler, Vietnam, trees being destroyed; the whole century is violent, and in a sense, it is the chain of violence which kicks off their madness. But they're watching Hollywood movies and they don't see what's outside. In the scene in the motel where they're making love, on the television, you see violent movies, insects eating each other. And then outside the window, whilst they're making love and talking banally, you see images of the entire twentieth century going by, Stalin, Hitler, Armenia, ecological devastation. The point is that these two kids are the product, the flower, the corrupt fruit, of the 20th century, which has been the most violent century in the history of mankind. (Charlie Rose Interview with Oliver Stone)
Mallory and the mechanic: As Mallory and the mechanic become intimate, there are several black & white shots from the scene during the sitcom when her father is touching her ass. These cuts were used to illustrate that... she's going to have to deal with these demons all her life, how to overcome this abuse, and how it's going to affect her in any relationship she has. She has a love/hate fear of sex. Lost in the desert: The use of dirty black and white film stock was because Stone "wanted to make the desert strange and claustrophobic. Instead of wide open, it's small and grainy and claustrophobic."
Words on chest in shaman's hut: When in the shaman's hut, the word "demon" is projected across Mickey's chest, followed by the words "too much TV" across both Mickey and Mallory's chests. These words represent the insight of the shaman, who can see into the soul of the two characters; "the Indian sees right through them. He knows who they are."
Scagnetti kills Pinky: As Jack Scagnetti kills Pinky, there are multiple shots of a freight train, as well as the sound of a train layered over the entire scene. At the end of the scene, the train is seemingly driving right past the window of the room. The emphasis on the train in this scene serves as a metaphor for Scagnetti's effort to try to enter a different mindset to capture Mickey and Mallory; In a sense, Scagnetti wants to become a primordial force in order to capture Mickey and Mallory. By sacrificing this prostitute, he transforms himself into the force of a locomotive. He becomes empowered. He feels ready. The sacrifice has been made. McClusky shows Scagnetti around prison: We see nervous, paranoid rhythms, black and white images, unnerving silences, the brutal treatment of the convicts, the constant threat of their retaliation against the prison, the system. We hear strange animalistic sounds coming from behind the walls. It's a descent into hell. Scagnetti's mother: During Scagnetti's story about how his mother was killed, there is a quick cut to his murder of Pinky. Of this cut, Stone says, It's an interesting moment when he strangles the prostitute in the flashback, whilst talking about his mother. You almost sense a connection between his mother's murder and his own feelings about women. Shots of idealized family during prison interview: "Universal audience; the collective. From prior time."
Shots of sex in shower/fruit dying/headless man during interview: "Sexual carnality. Death, sex. Sex, death. Fruit dying. Decay being exciting."
Light changes during interview: "It creates a concept that consciousness comes and goes and flows, like circular, like moonlight, as opposed to literal."
Coke ad/families: The commercial in a sense reassures us that things are comfortable, that we're cozy, that we're all in the family. And I cut around to a lot of old stock shots of American families watching television. The idea is that we're safe outside the horrors of these people in the prison and that natural forces are under control, with these cute and cuddly creatures. Wayne Gale demon: The image of Wayne's devil is funny, because everyone has a different demon, and in Wayne's case I can't help but see that demon as being comic. Hence the horns, and the blood, and the silliness of this man, is part of his charm. Media map of United States: It's an image of the power, the old fashioned, Cold War paranoia that we attached to the Russians, and would also apply to the media, because I have very much a paranoia, as do many people, that the media is really the modern enemy, that Russia has now gone into the past and that we in our lifetime, those of us who grew up in that baby boomer era are now saying, "What is the new enemy?", and some of us are realizing that it is us, it is our media, it is our corporations that are the enemy. So it's a deeply subversive message here which Mickey and myself are throwing out at the media. In a sense we're saying, "You are the problem", and many people in the press did not take this film lightly. Either they hated it for these messages, or they really went after it with a poleax to destroy it, to ridicule it as banal, as blah blah blah. But be that as it may, there is truth in the interview, and truth always seems to bother people. Animation when Mallory attacks Scagnetti: "We cut to animation to suggest her super strength, her super energy, her super woman-ness".
Gale reports live from riot: The riot is seen through television eyes in a sense that it's not shot the same way or framed the same way as the way we shoot some of the stuff that's already happened in the riot, or is coming up. It's televised, it's sillier, people are waving their legs upside-down, Wayne Gale is ludicrous, the music, everything's silly Multi format near prison escape: The whole kitchen sink gets thrown it. It's Vietnam in this firefight. Of course, it's highly exaggerated, it's nothing I saw. I just wanted to have the madness way beyond even Platoon (1986). So the last scene is surging, a love of chaos, the energy that rebirths us is chaos, it's an energy that invades us. Channel hoping at end: In the newscaster, we find the border between reality and what we've just seen dissolve, it vanishes. Channel surfing replaces it. In the context of these events, Mickey and Mallory's lives seem far less absurd. The final series of images flash faster and faster, and we have Rodney King, we have Tonya Harding, we have the Menendez Brothers, we have Waco, Texas, we have Lorena Bobbitt, we have O.J. Simpson. This is the reality of our time, and this is the reason I made the movie. Edit (Coming Soon)
The most common argument as to what the film is primarily about is that it is a satire of the sensationalist 1990s media which makes celebrities out of killers and trivializes suffering for the sake of ratings; a society of spectacle in which the media exploits and celebrates violence. In this sense, the film is very much anti-media, presenting satirically a media that embraces people like Mickey and Mallory. It mocks media practices and so-called "real-life" documentary shows, and it attacks (in a humorous, satirical vein) an all-pervasive media which has seeped into every corner of society. Indeed, whilst mocking the media, the film also probes the sociological and cultural problems of a media-saturated society. It is not only the case that the media celebrates criminals and exploits violence, but also that such content provides huge ratings. The media does what the people want it to do. People demand violent content, so the media provides violent content. The media makes stars out of murderers, so people treat murderers like stars. This is a vicious circle into which the film posits we are locked; violence sells, and until that is no longer the case, the media will continue to exploit and market such violence for the consumer.
However, this is but one interpretation of a film which is open to a many different readings. A good way to engage with the various possibilities as to meaning is to look at what some of the filmmakers themselves have said about their own interpretations of the work, as well as the interpretations of some critics and scholars. This selection of quotations offers a broad cross section of such opinions:
Oliver Stone: The ultimate purpose of the movie is to make people think about the violence that surrounds them, the whole crimescape that has invaded American life and the media's coverage of it, because the media has built it up into a circus.
[Chaos Rising: The Storm Around 'Natural Born Killers' (2001)] Oliver Stone: What I set out to do was satirize the painful idea that crime has gotten so crazy, so far out of hand, so numbing and so desensitizing that in this movie's Beavis and Butthead 1990s American crimescape, the subject approached the comedic, as does the media which so avariciously covers it. Our society is bloated not just with crime, but with the media coverage of it.
Oliver Stone: The idea at the time was that we were anti-establishment; tear it all down, this thing is going south; the criminal justice system, the legal system, the law, the media, they're all nuts. Everyone is nuts. The media was terrible back in the 1990s. It was disgusting. When I was a kid, you had to put on news that was non-profit, we did news for news" sake, and you did the best you could, but there was a sacred division. And around the early 80s, Larry Tisch over at CBS decided, "Hey. I think news should be for profit." And that changed everything. The news shows were very successful. When you turned it lose and you said, this is now for profit, it became about something even less respectful, it became about sensationalizing every piece of news that came along. It became about getting headlines and keeping their interest. So we lost something. Ratings are not the God.
[NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now? (2009) - 2009] Oliver Stone: I saw in America in the 1990s, it was changing. We had the O.J. Simpson trial, which was an enormous bonanza for television. They were making billions of dollars from advertising, pounding our senses with O.J. Simpson, O.J. Simpson. The media was taking over our minds. It was saying that life has come down to this tabloid feeling.
["Natural Born Killers: Method in the Madness"] Woody Harrelson: "It's a real sensationalistic media that tends to focus on things that don't really matter." ("NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now?")
Hank Corwin: "This film was about the media and how these people actually promote this violence because it gets them ratings." ("Natural Born Killers: Method in the Madness".)
Oliver Stone: I think we are a culture going to hell, we've been enraptured by the media. The media has distorted our value system, and distorted the argument itself.
[Chaos Rising: The Storm Around 'Natural Born Killers'] Juliette Lewis: You sort of have to magnify, make a real exaggerated portrayal of reality to make people ask the question: Is this real? Is this necessary? What is going on with the media today. THIS NEXT BREAKING NEWS and all this shit, it's entertainment. And the media justification will be "If you didn't want to know about it, we wouldn't report it". It reminds me of drug dealers; if there wasn't a demand, we wouldn't supply.
["NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now?"] Woody Harrelson: I think people will take what you feed them. People are hungry for something and you're going to feed them either sensationalistic bullshit or you're going to feed them something of value.
["NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now?"] Steve Dunleavy: People talk about this word "sensational". Hey, murders, wars, they are sensational. The word wouldn't be in the bloody dictionary if sensational wasn't sensational. Do people want Natural Born Killers, or do they want a documentary on the sex life of a bee? No, they want Natural Born Killers.
["NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now?"] Oliver Stone: The Geraldos and Dunleavys are just jokes to me. They're just tabloid screamers, they don't mean anything. It's always a cliché what they do. There's never a deeper pattern, the cause and effect of things. And that's what makes history great, cause and effect. So when you make news for profit on TV stations, you're screwed, the whole system is screwed.
["NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now?"] Oliver Stone: Natural Born Killers was never intended as a criticism of violence. How can you criticize violence? Violence is in us - it's a natural state of man. What I was doing was pointing the finger at the system that feeds off that violence, and at the media that package it for mass consumption. The film came out of a time when that seemed to have reached an unprecedented level. It seemed to me that America was getting crazier.
The Guardian, December 20th, 2002; available here] Oliver Stone: When we set out to make Natural Born Killers in late 1992, it was surreal. By the time it was finished in 1994, it had become real. In that warped season, we saw Bobbitt, Menendez, Harding, King, Buttafuoco and several other pseudo-celebrities grasp our national attention span with stories of violence, revenge and self-obsession. Each week, America was deluged by the media with a new soap opera, ensuring ratings, money and above all, continuity of hysteria.
Oliver Stone: I think if you take it literally, you might be upset. The film was intended satirically. The landscape, when we started it a year and a half ago, seemed very surreal, but it's sort of happened while we were shooting. Beavis and Butthead were right. A woman has cut off a man's penis and was publicized for it and acquitted. Two boys murdered their parents in cold blood and got away with it on child abuse. A figure skater beat up another figure skater and made national ratings. Everything seemed to come out into a public display of the private. Everything private suddenly aired in soap opera fashion. It was fascinating, and changed the nature of watching and listening. The culture of surveillance, the culture of gossip, that's what our film is dealing with, and what we shot became real as we were shooting. It became more real, less surreal. And to be honest, I think the Mickey and Mallory story could happen any day now, and if it happened, these kids would be all over the newspapers, People magazine, heroes for a couple of weeks, and then they'd vanish, people would get bored with them, the way they get bored with any story, they move onto the next case, as is shown at the end of the film. I think it's a bizarre place we're living in, the 1990s, I think it's a century of violence.
[Charlie Rose Interview with Oliver Stone] Oliver Stone: It seems to be the nature of the script, the cuts, the scenes, the relationships; all larger than life, satiric. I emphasise the word "satiric." Now, some people may disagree that it's a satire. A satire means to me, larger than life, but showing the vulnerabilities of our society through these grotesque portrayals. That was the intention.
["Natural Born Killers: Method in the Madness"] Oliver Stone: "The individual is no longer crushed or faceless as long as he can get on TV - games show or murder, what's the difference?" (Pre-release statement, 1994.)
(?): The truth that Natural Born Killers elucidates is that the natural born killer is inside all of us. Perhaps it doesn't manifest itself in a literal sense, as it does with the "civilized" characters in the film (Tommy Lee Jones' warden, Tom Sizemore's cop, Robert Downey Jr. 's reporter), all of whom do succumb to the murderous impulse, but it does in a figurative sense each time we enable violence by treating its purveyors as celebrities. In the end, if we do so, it is because it has become a time-honored American tradition.
[Booklet with 2-Disc R1 US Director's Cut DVD] Oliver Stone: Tomorrow - tonight - Mickey and Malory Knox can happen, without doubt. And they too would have their hour in the sun - and by the next two issues of TV Guide, would give way to the next predator in the ratings war which become sort of equivalent of the popularity contests we all had to suffer through as kids. The desserts, as I remember, never went to the deserving but to the gossiped-about, which is more important to the American psyche than to be perceived as an A-student. The scientist, as we learn in our culture, is unknown; Billy the Kid is not.
Tommy Lee Jones: The media are very important, especially television and the tabloids, in the world in which this movie takes place, and that's the scale of importance or magnitude in these people's minds; the more famous you are, the more important you are.
[Chaos Rising: The Storm Around 'Natural Born Killers'] (?): We may be in a cinematic landscape of rear-screen projections, animated sequences and grainy 8mm film, but we are also in the psyche of a nation caught in the grip of fear and enthralled by the entertainment of it all at the same time. We watch Mickey and Malory with the same detached fascination as we do the freak shows on the evening news, condemning them for their malevolence but showering them with our undivided attention, possibly even our silent admiration.
[Booklet with 2-Disc R1 US Director's Cut DVD] Oliver Stone: The struggle of humanity is the struggle of memory against forgetting. And television is owned by people who are interested in you forgetting.
["NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now?"] Oliver Stone: I think we've displayed a landscape of the 1990s, where the media is chasing the violence, is very intimate with the violence, overkill has developed, loss of perspective.
[Charlie Rose Interview with Oliver Stone] In tandem with this point, at the end of his commentary track, Stone reads a quote from Octavio Paz: The ancients had visions, we have television. But the civilization of the spectacle is cruel, because the spectators have no memory, because of that they also lack remorse and true conscience. They quickly forget and scarcely blink at the scenes of the death and destruction of the Persian Gulf War or at the curves of Madonna or Michael Jackson. They await the great yawn, anonymous and universal, which I guess is the Apocalypse and final judgment of the society of spectacle. We are condemned to this new vision of hell: those who appear on the screen and those of us who watch. Is there an escape? I don't know. One must seek it. One must seek it. Oliver Stone: There is, if anything, I think, the possibility in this movie, and many people have asked me questions about it, written letters, about anti-media, taking a position in the media world. In other words, we are living in a place where all the television stations are similar, all the news is similar, conformity is an ascendance. All of us who went to schools and colleges, and worked our way into the world, where most of us worked for employers, we all have these rules that govern our lives; we are dictated to by the welfare systems, the insurances systems, the banking systems, the television systems, they're all systems, and we adhere to it, because it's the right thing to do. We all declare our independence in various ways, we revolt against the system with our own personal prejudices, and grudges, and poems. But ultimately, we can't change the system, the system is a very dangerous thing. Mickey and Mallory take on the system, they kill fifty-some people, they go to prison for it, they escape prison. They use the media to help them escape, which makes them clever, but they don't take the media into the final journey, which is their disappearance, they have to get into the underground. In the underground exists the anti-media virus, and in the anti-media virus there's hope; hope for the 21st century, hope of "breaking on through to the other side." Getting some anti-media virus out there, where you don't listen to the conformity that's sold to you, where you find your own way.
[Director's Commentary track] Oliver Stone: It's not just the media though, I think the prison systems, I think the police system. It's the chicken and the egg , we're all mixed, we're metastasized, so the prevention elements are part of the committing elements.
[Charlie Rose Interview with Oliver Stone] Oliver Stone: We're positing these two anti-heroes who kill people, who in a sense emerge as purer phenomenon than the corrupt forces of the establishment, which is a very subversive statement, leading to basically a revolution.
[Director's Commentary track] Oliver Stone: The true villains in the story are not Mickey and Malory but the institutions and the system that bred them, which included the prison system, the police system and the media.
[Booklet with 2-Disc R1 US Director's Cut DVD] Roger Ebert (film critic): Maybe Stone meant his movie as a warning about where we were headed, but because of O.J. Simpson it plays as an indictment of the way we are now. We are becoming a society more interested in crime and scandal than in anything else [...] Yet you do not see as much actual violence as you think you do in this movie; it's more the tone, the attitude, and the breakneck pacing that gives you that impression. Stone is not making a geek show, with close-ups of blood and guts. Like all good satirists, he knows that too much realism will weaken his effect. He lets you know he's making a comedy [...] And look how this film blindsided the good citizens of the MPAA classification board. The review panel threatened the film with the dreaded NC-17 rating, and after five appeals and some cutting finally granted the R rating. But read their parental warning: "For extreme violence and graphic carnage, for shocking images, and for strong language and sexuality." They've got the fever! I could point to a dozen more violent recent films that have left the MPAA unstirred, but Stone has touched a nerve here, because his film isn't about violence, it's about how we respond to violence, and that truly is shocking.
["Natural Born Killers Review", Chicago Sun Times, August 26th, 1994; available here] Jason O'Brien (film critic): Natural Born Killers is not a film that in any way glorifies violence. Oliver Stone was certainly not attempting to incite violence with this film. Stone was attempting to make a film that made us experience the true nature of violence, in order to see how absurd it is when the media makes killers heroes. For example, we have a whole subculture in [America] who worship Charles Manson, who somehow think he's cool. But what if these people saw an actual film of the murders, actually saw Sharon Tate's pregnant stomach being stabbed repeatedly? I have a feeling they would feel quite differently about Manson. How about those people that thought the O.J. Simpson case was some kind of fun diversion to watch day in and day out? If they could actually see the crime scene or autopsy photographs of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, I doubt they would think it such lightweight fare. That was Stone's point and message in the film. We have become a society who subsists on the tragedies that come across the airwaves [...] and even more horribly, we somehow end up making killers mythic heroes, and I believe that's because we never really see the true reality of the horror they perpetrated. And that's why Stone first made us witness the violence and be shocked by it, which is a rare thing to accomplish nowadays when we tend to be so desensitized to violence. And then, once we have seen these truly horrific crimes, and seen how sick these two people are, we can appreciate the absurdity of the Wayne Gale character, someone who revels in their crimes, and hopes to make himself successful on their popularity. And we see how the public responds positively to this media glorification. Violence is sick, but perhaps the media that glorifies such violence is even sicker.
["In Defense of Oliver Stone: Natural Born Killers and Attacks against Violent Films"; available here] Hal Hinson (film critic): In telling the lurid story of mass-murdering lovebirds Mickey and Mallory, Oliver Stone uses the movie screen as a toxic waste dump for all the poisons in our culture. If America is a party, with its mindless sitcoms, pseudo-newscasts and tabloid sensationalism, Stone crashes it and pukes in the punch bowl [...] Unlike the talk show host Gale, Stone isn't an empty sensationalist. He's a moralist, a truth-teller. He wants to illuminate us and set things right. This passion and urgency in his filmmaking voice is one of the primary reasons that he can't simply be dismissed as an overbearing village crank. Stone isn't just pushing hot buttons for the fun of seeing his audience squirm. For him, the atrocities showcased in Natural Born Killers are symptoms of a deep soul-sickness; the film's images are like the scrambled ravings of a national mind in searing pain [...] Killers is intended as a gonzo critique of the mass media and, by extension, of the bloodthirsty legions of couch potatoes whose prurient taste guarantees that the garbage rises to the top of the charts.
["Natural Born Killers Review", Washington Post, August 26th, 1994; available here] Oliver Stone: I keep thinking of images from Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí's movie Un chien andalou (1929), which I saw in film school, where of course, there's the famous shot, the horrifying shot of the razor blade going across the eyeball, which shocked the world at that time. It was considered too much, and pushing the edges of what movies were supposed to do, and I keep thinking that's always the case. It was the case with A Clockwork Orange (1971). It was the case with The Wild Bunch (1969) at that time. Films have to be subversive if they're any good, in a sense, they have to push the edges of every envelope. They must force you to ask the questions of behavior. So where films really intersect with life, and really help or hurt us, is in how they teach us what is behavior, and how to interact, and they make judgments of that. So movies always move, the subversive movies always allow for freakier and freakier, wilder and more amoral behavior. And that behavior inevitably shocks those people who have not moved their behavior in that manner. I think sometimes, it's a question of style, how you do it. If you make the right announcement with the right PR, or whatever it is, if you just do it, you risk being castigated as a provocateur or as a person who does not have the interests of society at heart.
[Director's Commentary track] According to Stone, another central theme of the film is love. It's a comic love story. The two characters are fated to be together, as they complete one another. Mallory teaches Mickey how to love, and he teaches her how to feel good about herself. Mickey wants to see Hollywood movies about love, she wants a one to one relationship; she wants him to find her sexy; "The real story all along has been the deepening of the love between Mickey and Mallory." (Director's Commentary track.)
Oliver Stone: I do believe there's love at the end, and as Mickey says, I do believe love beats the demon. And I find it ironic that it is Mickey and Mallory who are the ones who escape the "great yawn", the great boredom of being a spectator, always trapped in a spectacle.
[Director's Commentary track] Oliver Stone: In a very important sense, Mickey and Mallory are not passing on the violence to their children. You sense that they have broken through this cycle of violence, that it will not be part of their lives anymore, and they don't need it. Their consciousness has elevated. And I think that that's good; the chain from Rodney Dangerfield and Mickey's father is now broken.
[Director's Commentary track] Oliver Stone: In its own way, Natural Born Killers is ultimately a very optimistic film about the future. It's about freedom, and the ability of every human being to get it.
[Director's Commentary track] Oliver Stone: It's my anarchic, damn the torpedoes, all out attitude, we're not going to live with this hypocrisy, we're just going to blow it out of the end of a shotgun. Fuck it.
[Chaos Rising: The Storm Around 'Natural Born Killers'] Edit (Coming Soon)
On March 5th, 1995, Sarah Edmondson and her boyfriend Benjamin Darras (both 18) spent the night at his family's cabin in Oklahoma, dropping acid and watching Natural Born Killers. The following morning, they left the cabin armed with a .38-caliber revolver. On March 7th, they arrived at Hernando, Mississippi, where Darras shot and killed cotton-mill manager William Savage by shooting him twice in the head at point blank range. They then travelled to Ponchatoula, Louisiana, where Edmondson shot Patsy Byers, a convenient store cashier. Byers survived the attack, but was rendered paraplegic.
It subsequently transpired that Savage was a friend of popular author John Grisham, who publicly accused Oliver Stone of being irresponsible in making the film, claiming that filmmakers should be held accountable for their work when it incites viewers to commit violent acts. In July 1995, Byers took legal actions against Edmondson and Darras, but in March, 1996, she amended her lawsuit to include Stone and the Time Warner company. With the advice of Grisham, Byers' lawyers used a "product liability" claim, stating that the filmmakers "knew or should have known that the film would cause and inspire people to commit crimes such as the shooting of Patsy Ann Byers." Grisham himself stated in an article called "Unnatural Killers" in the April 1996 edition of the Oxford American magazine, The last hope of imposing some sense on Hollywood will come through another great American tradition, the lawsuit. A case can be made that there exists a direct causal link between Natural Born Killers and the death of Bill Savage. It will take only one large verdict against the likes of Oliver Stone, and then the party will be over. On January 23rd, 1997, on the grounds that filmmakers and production companies are protected by the First Amendment, the case was dismissed, but Byers immediately appealed the decision, and on May 15th, 1998, the Intermediate Louisiana Court of Appeals overturned the initial dismissal, claiming that Byers did indeed have a valid case against the filmmakers (Byers herself had died of cancer in late 1997). As such, all of Hollywood eagerly awaited the outcome of the trial, because if Stone was found guilty, it would mean a drastic re-examination of industry practices and would carry all kinds of far reaching implications regarding the content of movies. However, on March 12th, 2001, in a landmark decision, Judge Robert Morrison dismissed the case on the grounds that there was no evidence that either Time Warner or Oliver Stone intended to incite violence. In June 2002, the Louisiana Court of Appeal turned down an appeal from Byers attorneys, and the suit officially ended.
For John Grisham's "Unnatural Killers" article in its entirety, see here.
For an article about the case being thrown out of court, see here.
For a detailed article written during the case, see here.
The filmmakers themselves have never really commented directly on the incident (or on any of the murders which have been linked to the film [see below]), but several of them do make oblique references to it in Chaos Rising: The Storm Around 'Natural Born Killers' (2001). Oliver Stone for example says, "the reality is really surreality, it's not realistic to me [...] because it goes above the top, it's clear that it's not to be taken literally, which some people do", whilst Robert Downey Jr. argues simply that "Anger covers fear." Tommy Lee Jones is the most articulate about the situation, arguing that "you don't have to be a very sophisticated person to know that this is not an exploitation film. This is an art film." He also points out that "those who say a work of art is an invitation to violent anti-social behavior are not very bright." Edit (Coming Soon)
No, they bear little resemblance to one another, which is why Tarantino is credited with "Story by" and not as a screenwriter. His original script was heavily rewritten by writer David Veloz, associate producer Richard Rutowski and director Oliver Stone. Whilst much of the dialogue is the same, the basic plot is completely different, as is the thematic focus of the movie. One of the primary differences between the script and the finished film is that in the screenplay, the central character is Wayne Gale, whereas in the film, the protagonists are Mickey and Mallory. In Tarantino's script, Mickey and Mallory are arrested much earlier than in the film, and most of the narrative details Gale's attempts to put together his American Maniacs episode about the pair. Mickey and Mallory spend much less time onscreen, and there is significantly less time spent developing their characters. The ending is also slightly different insofar as in the film, there is a degree of ambiguity as to whether Mickey and Mallory will continue killing, but in the script there is little doubt that they will. You can find the fifth draft of the shooting script here. Edit (Coming Soon)
The Byers' case is by far the most famous "copycat" case concerning the film (probably due to the involvement of John Grisham), but it is certainly not the only one. Here are a selection of other cases in which NBK has been implicated.
Texas decapitation: In 1994, a 14-year-old boy from Dallas, Texas decapitated a 13-year-old girl from his class in school. When asked why he did it, he allegedly said it was because he "wanted to be famous. Like the Natural Born Killers." There is very little solid information available online about this case, but it is briefly mentioned here.
Florence Rey and Audry Maupin: On October 4th, 1994, an incident took place in Paris, France which resulted in the deaths of five people and stunned the entire country. Philosophy student Florence Rey (19) and her medical school drop-out boyfriend Audry Maupin (22) broke into a police impound, sprayed the two policemen on duty with tear gas and stole their handguns. They then boarded a taxi driven by Amadou Dialoo from Guinea and ordered him to take them to the Place de la République. Upon arriving, Dialoo noticed a nearby police car, and in an attempt to alert them to the situation, he rammed the taxi into the car. Two police men (Laurent Gérard and Thierry Mernard) jumped from the police car, but were immediately shot and killed by Maupin, as was Dialoo. Rey and Maupin then hijacked a passing car driven by Jacky Bensimon, ordering him to drive them to the Bois de Vincennes. Police gave chase, and during the pursuit, Maupin shot and killed motorcycle patrolman Guy Jacob. Upon approaching the Vincennes, Rey and Maupin saw a roadblock had been set up and ordered Bensimon to drive through it. Bensimon however pulled the handbrake on the car, causing it to spin out of control. As it spun, he lept from the car, and as soon as he was clear, the police opened fire, killing Maupin and injuring Rey. During the subsequent trial, Rey refused to discuss or even acknowledge the incident, even to her own lawyers. Because all of the fatal shots had been fired by Maupin, Rey was charged as an accomplice only, and sentenced to 20 years in Maison d'Arrêt des Femmes. In early 2009, her sentence was remitted, and she was discreetly released from prison on May 3rd.
After the incident, when the police stormed the squat in which Rey and Maupin lived, they found a great deal of anarchist literature, and it was also discovered that the couple had already been under observation by the French secret police for their involvement in an underground anarchist movement. The NBK connection with this case is tenuous at best, and seems to be entirely media created. Whilst some reports claim that Rey and Maupin quoted lines of dialogue from the film during the shootout at the Place de la République, others deny it. Apart from a poster of the film on the wall of the building in which they lived (although the poster was not in their room), no evidence has ever come to light that they were fans of or had even seen the film, and NBK was not even mentioned in the case until local tabloids began to compare Rey and Maupin to Mickey and Mallory.
In a bizarre twist of life mirroring art, Rey became something of a folk hero amongst young people in Paris, appearing on T-shirts and posters and being celebrated as one half of a Bonnie and Clyde duo who dared stand up against an oppressive hegemony.
There is a great deal of information about this incident online (see The New York Times article here for example), but very little about the NBK connection. For an excellent 1998 article from The Independent about the incident and the possible connection to the film see "The girl who said, Go on - plug him", by John Lichfield.
Nathan Martinez: In October 1994, 17-year-old Nathan Martinez from Bluffdale, Utah, shot and killed his stepmother and 10-year-old half-sister while they slept. He was apprehended several days later in O'Neill, Nebraska, following a nationwide manhunt. Martinez was allegedly obsessed with the film and claims to have seen it at least 10 times in the days prior to the murders. He had even shaved his head the way Mickey does at the end of the movie, and he had taken to wearing the same style of round sunglasses as Mickey.
There isn't a huge amount of detail about this case online, with most sites just giving the basic facts. The BBC investigative documentary series Panorama (1953) also aired an episode about the links between violence in society and violence in entertainment in which the Martinez case was discussed.
Truck driver: In 1995 after allegedly watching the movie 19 times, a gang of four people in their twenties killed a truck driver and made their getaway in his rig. There is virtually no information on this case whatsoever. See here for a very brief mention, and here for the legal reference for the case (go to page 1160, n14).
Jason Lewis On March 5th, 1995 in Senoia, Georgia, 15-year-old Jason Lewis shot and killed his parents after allegedly deciding he wanted to be like Mickey and Mallory in the NBK. Lewis was on the phone to a friend discussing how he was planning on killing his mother and father and taking off for the road, when he suddenly announced, "I'm going to do it." According to the friend, as he listened on the phone, he heard Lewis slaughtering his parents. He grabbed his father's 12-gauge shotgun, and shot his mother who was sitting in a recliner watching television. The shot didn't kill her, and as she screamed, he fired again, hitting his father, who was lying on a nearby couch. A third shot to his mothers face killed her, and a fourth shot to his father's head killed him. According to Lewis' friend, Lewis then calmly returned to the phone and announced "I did it. It's done." It was subsequently discovered that Lewis was only one of four young boys who planned to kill their parents, and embark on a cross country killing spree similar to that seen in the film. All four boys were arrested. During interrogation, when asked why he did it, Lewis told investigators that it was because his parents had imposed a midnight curfew on him.
For more information on this case, see Charles M. Sennott's article for the Boston Globe, "Another `Natural Born Killer' Shoots Parents"; for an incredibly biased article condemning Oliver Stone and the film, see here.
Stabbing: In Avon, Massachusetts, June 1995, three men, aged 18 to 20 killed a physically handicapped 65-year-old man by stabbing him 27 times with a Bowie knife whilst he lay in bed. The attack was so ferocious that both of the man's wrists were broken due to the force of the attacks, and his body was split open from clavicle to spine. After the incident, the ringleader bragged to his girlfriend about the murder. When she expressed horror at his actions, he asked her, "Haven't you ever seen Natural Born Killers before?"
There isn't a huge amount available about this case online, but some details can be found in Ann Marie Barry's 1997 book Visual Intelligence: Perception, Image and Manipulation in Visual Communication (go to page 316). It is also briefly mentioned (along with many of the cases discussed here), in Peter Schweizer's 1998 article for the National Review "Bad Imitation".
William Sodders: On January 3rd, 1997, New York firefighter James Halverson was running at the high school track at Centereach, Long Island when William Sodders (21) shot and killed him in an act of random violence. Sodders had purchased a 9mm pistol and he and his friend Eric Calvin, had gone to the track to practice shooting. When they got there, Sodders encountered Halverson. He went out onto the track, and bent over pretending to tie his show laces. As Halverson approached, Sodders stood up and shot him at point black range. He also shot and killed Halverson's dog. The next day, Sodder's father, Patrick, turned him into police, after William's girlfriend, Nicole, told Patrick that she thought William had something to do with the killing. According to Patrick Sodders, NBK was his son's favorite film, and he deeply admired Mickey and Mallory. Indeed, ever since seeing the film, Patrick claimed that Sodders had begun to act like Mickey. Sodders was sentenced to life in prison.
For some details on this case see James M. O'Kane's book Wicked Deeds: Murder in America (go to page 47); see also here for The New York Times article about the incident.
Michael Carneal: On December 1st, 1997, in West Paducah, Kentucky, 14-year-old Michael Carneal went to school carrying four .22 shotguns, two .30-30 Winchester rifles and a Ruger .22 handgun. Upon arriving at the school, he put in a pair of earplugs and opened fire with the handgun at a prayer meeting, killing three of his classmates and wounding five others. After he was finished shooting, Carneal calmly dropped the gun and surrendered to the school principal. He was charged with murder and attempted murder and sentenced to three life sentences for murder, plus 150 years for five counts of attempted murder. Following appeal, this was reduced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. In April 1999, Jack Thompson, attorney for the parents of the murdered children filed a $33-million lawsuit against Time Warner, PolyGram Films, Palm Pictures, Island Pictures, New Line Cinema, Atari, Nintendo and Sony Computer Entertainment. Specifically mentioned were the 1995 film The Basketball Diaries (1995) and NBK, as well as the video games Doom and Mortal Kombat. Thompson argued that the films and games had encouraged Carneal to act the way he did, and Doom provided him with excellent target practice. The case was dismissed in July 2001 by the US Court of Appeals.
There is a great deal of information online about this case online. The Wikipedia article (here) covers the basics pretty well.
Columbine: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre were allegedly both fans of NBK. Prior to the massacre, they had used the initials "NBK," as their code. In a journal entry dated, April 10th 1998, Harris wrote, When I go NBK and people say things like "Oh, it was so tragic," or "oh he is crazy!" or "It was so bloody", just because your mommy and daddy told you blood and violence is bad, you think it's a fucking law of nature? Wrong, only science and math are true, everything, and I mean every fucking thing else is Man made. Before I leave this worthless place, I will kill whoever I deem unfit for anything at all, especially life. Harris also referred to April 20th as "the holy April morning of NBK", and in an undated journal entry, Klebold wrote "I'm stuck in humanity. Maybe going NBK w. Eric is the way to break free".
There is no end of information on this incident online. The Wikipedia entry, here, provides a good overview of the incident as well as a decent further reading section. A good article about the connections between film and videogame violence is "Columbine High School massacre: Aftershock and the search for reasons".
Angus Wallen and Kara Winn: On December 23rd, 2004, in Jacksonville, Florida, Angus Wallen and Kara Winn, both 27, shot and killed their roommate Brandon Murphy (22) before setting him and the apartment on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime. Wallen and Winn had only recently moved in with Murphy, and had decided to steal his debit card. When he resisted, Winn shot him in this shoulder, and Wallen shot him in the head, killing him. They had allegedly watched NBK the night before the murder and prosecutors pointed out that the crime resembled a similar crime in the film where a couple kill a man, lit his remains on fire, and then escape together (of course, the prosecutors are wrong here; it's a woman they kill, not a man, and they don't shoot her and set her remains on fire, they burn her alive, so the real life murder is in fact completely different from the scene in the film which supposedly inspired it). They were arrested the next day in Biloxi, Mississippi, and during the subsequent trial, they turned on one another, each saying the murder was the other's idea. They were both sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
See here for some basic information about the incident.
Jeremy Steinke and Jasmine Richardson: On April 23rd, 2006, Jeremy Allan Steinke, (23) and his 12-year-old girlfriend Jasmine Richardson, murdered her parents, Marc and Debra Richardson, as well as her 8-year-old brother, Jacob, in Medicine Hat, Alberta, in an incident which has become known as the Richardson family murders. Steinke and Richardson were arrested the next day in Leader, Saskatchewan, and were charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Apparently, just prior to the incident, Jasmine's parents had forbidden her from seeing Steinke. On July 9th, 2007, Richardson was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to ten years in prison, which is the maximum penalty for a person under 14 years of age. On December 5th, 2008, Steinke was also found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder. On December 15th, he was sentence to life in prison with no possibility for parole for at least 25 years.
The NBK connection is to be found in the fact that Steinke had allegedly watched the film the night before the incident. However Steinke's mental state was questionable for some time prior to the murders, often telling friends he was a 300-year-old werewolf.
See here and here for two articles about the incident.
Eric Tavulares: On July 19th, 2008, in Milwaukee, Eric Tavulares (18) strangled his girlfriend, Lauren Aljubouri (also 18) to death. Tavulares and Aljubouri, both 18, had been watching the movie, and stopped it about half way through before going to bed. According to Tavulares, he and Aljubouri were lying in bed talking, when he "switched mentally" and began strangling her. Upon arriving at the scene, Tavulares told police "I did it, I can't believe it. I did it." He later claimed that he had seen NBK between 10 and 20 times. On January 31st, 2009, Tavulares (who pleaded guilty during the trial) was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in prison.
There is a great deal of online information about this incident. See here for the actual police report; see here for an archive of articles; and see here for an excellent article about the possibility of the film's involvement in the crime. Edit (Coming Soon)
In his DVD introduction to the alternative ending for the film, Stone says, Mickey and Mallory have gone through quite a few changes in the course of the movie and they're really moved on. They're anti-heroes in the sense that they do go underground now, they fought the media, they destroyed the media. They sound like they're going to go straight right now. On the other hand, you never know, they might come back for more. So keep watching for Natural Born Killers 2. Stone was clearly joking when he said this. There is not going to be a sequel. Edit (Coming Soon)
There is officially only one Director's Cut. Running 117 minutes, it contains approximately 4 minutes of material not in the theatrical version. For an overview of the additional scenes, with images, see here, and for specific details on the additional material see here. However, another (unofficial) version of the film does exist which has been sold under the titles "Director's Cut", "Uncut" and "Uncensored". This version restores all of the deleted scenes found on the DVD and uses the alternative ending (see below), and is approximately 26 minutes longer than the theatrical version. This version of the film is a bootleg. The official Director's Cut contains only 4 minutes of extra material. However, the existence of this bootleg version has led to some confusion amongst fans as to exactly how many Director's Cuts there are. There are only two official versions of the film only: the theatrical version and the Director's Cut, which runs 4 minutes longer than the theatrical version. Edit (Coming Soon)
Opening titles: "Waiting for the Miracle", written by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson; performed by Leonard Cohen
Song on jukebox: "The Way I Walk", written by Jack Scott and performed by Robert Gordon
Diner Fight: "Shitlist", written by Donita Sparks; performed by L7
Slow moving bullet and knife: "Madame Butterfly", written by Giacomo Puccini; performed by Sofia National Opera and Ballet
Mickey and Mallory tell cowboy what to tell police: "Moon Over Greene County", written and performed by Dan Zanes
Mickey and Mallory dance in diner: "La Vie en Rose", written by Mack David, Édith Piaf and Louiguy; performed by Victor Young
Title card: "Me and Her Outside", written and performed by Steven Jesse Bernstein
1st half of main title sequence: "Leader of the Pack", written by Shadow Morton, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich; performed by The Shangri-Las
2nd half of main title sequence: "Rock N Roll Nigger", written by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye; performed by Patti Smith mixed with Rebel Rauser by Duane Eddy
Mickey and Mallory in the desert at night: "Sweet Jane", written by Lou Reed; performed by Cowboy Junkies
Prison visit: "You Belong to Me", written by Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart and Chilton Price; performed by Bob Dylan
Tornado when Mickey escapes the work farm: "The Trembler", written by Duane Eddy and Ravi Shankar; performed by Duane Eddy
Murder of Mallory's father: "Cartoonicide", written and performed by Richard Gibbs
Wedding: "If You Were the Woman and I Was the Man", written by Michael Timmins; performed by Cowboy Junkies
American Maniacs; Mickey & Mallory episode: "Route 666", written and performed by Brian Berdan, featuring Robert Downey Jr.
Mickey & Mallory fans: "Totally Hot" (an edit of "Kipenda Roho", written and performed by Remmy Ongala)
Looking for a hostage: "Back in Baby's Arms"`, written by Bob Montgomery; performed by Patsy Cline
Sex in motel: "Waiting for the Miracle", written by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson; performed by Leonard Cohen
Mallory driving to garage: "Taboo", written and performed by Peter Gabriel and Remmy Ongala
Mallory and the mechanic: "Sex is Violent" (an edit of "Ted Just Admit It", written and performed by Jane's Addiction, and "I Put a Spell on You", written by Screamin' Jay Hawkins; performed by Diamanda Galás)
Mickey & Mallory get lost in the desert: "History (Repeats Itself)", written by T. Wilbrandt, K. Buhlet and F. Lovsky; performed by A.O.S
Mickey and Mallory argue in the desert: "Something I Can Never Have", written by Trent Reznor; performed by Nine Inch Nails
Shaman's chant: "I Will Take You Home", written and performed by Russell Means
Scagnetti talks with Pinky: "On the Wrong Side of Relaxation", written and performed by Barry Adamson
Scagnetti chokes Pinky: "Under Wraps", written and performed by Barry Adamson
Driving to Pharmacy: "Drums a Go-Go", written by Paul Buff; performed by The Hollywood Persuaders
Pharmacist watches TV: "Reed my Lips", written and performed by Brent Lewis
Killing pharmacist : "Rock N Roll Nigger", written by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye; performed by Patti Smith
Pharmacy shootout: "Carmina Burana", written by Carl Orff; performed by Prague Festival Orchestra
Scagnetti hugs Mallory: "These Boots Are Made for Walkin", written by Lee Hazlewood; performed by Juliette Lewis
Story of Scagnetti's mother: "Hungry Ants" (an edit of "Checkpoint Charlie" and "The Violation of Expectation", both written and performed by Barry Adamson)
Mess hall in prison: "Ghost Town"`, written and performed by Jerry Dammers
Warden McClusky shows Scagnetti around: "The Day the Niggaz Took Over", written by Dr. Dre, Snoop, Daz, Toni C. and RBX; performed by Dr. Dre
McClusky and Scagnetti approach Mallory's cell: "Fall of the Rebel Angels" (an edit of "The Hay Wain", written and performed by Sergio Cervetti)
Scagnetti watches Mallory in her cell: "Born Bad", written and performed by Juliette Lewis
Mickey agrees to interview with Gale: "The In Crowd", written and performed by Ramsey Lewis
Mickey writes to Mallory: "Sweet Jane", written by Lou Reed; performed by Cowboy Junkies
Mickey shaves his head: "In Doubt", written and performed by Peter Gabriel
Mickey on way to interview: "Fall of the Rebel Angels" (an edit of "The Hay Wain", written and performed by Sergio Cervetti)
Scagnetti comes to Mallory's cell: "Judgment Day", written and performed by Diamanda Galás
Riot begins: "Forkboy", written by Jello Biafra, Paul Barker, Al Jourgensen, Jeff Ward and Bill Rieflin; performed by Lard
Mickey opens fire on guards: "Bombtrack", written by Zack De La Rocha; performed by Rage Against the Machine
Mickey orders Gale's crew to follow him: "Take the Power Back", written by Zack De La Rocha; performed by Rage Against the Machine
Mallory attacks Scagnetti: "Fun", written and performed by Spore
Corridor flight on way to Mallory's cell: "Shitlist", written by Donita Sparks; performed by L7
Wayne Gale live report: "Batonga In Batongaville" (this is an edit of "St. John's Night on a Bare Mountain", written by Modest Mussorgsky; performed by Budapesti Filharmóniai Társaság Zenekara), featuring Robert Downey Jr.
Mexican standoff between Mickey and Scagnetti: "A Warm Place", written by Trent Reznor; performed by Nine Inch Nails
Mickey reunited with Mallory: "Sweet Jane", written by Lou Reed; performed by Cowboy Junkies
Prison guards tortured: "Allah, Mohammed, Char, Yaar", written and performed by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Wayne Gale turns into Rambo: "Taboo", written and performed by Peter Gabriel and Remmy Ongala
Greenroom escape plan: "Overlay", written and performed by Not Drowning, Waving
Coming down stairs towards McClusky: "Spread Eagle Beagle", written by Roger Osbourne; performed by The Melvins
Prison escape/McClusky's death: "Anthem", written and performed by Leonard Cohen
OJ Simpson, Menendez Brothers, Waco Compound etc: "Something I Can Never Have", written by Trent Reznor; performed by Nine Inch Nails
Closing credits: "The Future", written and performed by Leonard Cohen Edit (Coming Soon)
The original R1 US DVD released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in 2001, the R2 UK DVD, released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (UK) in 2001, the R2 UK- Director's Cut DVD released by Trimark Home Video in 2003 and the 2-Disc R1 US Director's Cut released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in 2009, all contain the following special features:
• A feature length audio commentary with screenwriter/director Oliver Stone. (Note: The two commentaries are different in places on the Director's Cut versions of the film as opposed to the theatrical cut; especially towards the end of the film.)
• Chaos Rising: The Storm Around 'Natural Born Killers' (2001); a 28-minute featurette looking at the controversy surrounding the film upon its initial release.
• Six deleted scenes and an alternative ending, with an introduction to each scene by screenwriter/director Oliver Stone (see below for more information on these scenes).
• Theatrical trailer
• The original R1 US, R2 UK and R1 Director's Cut also contain:
• Oliver Stone interview with Charlie Rose (11 minutes)
• The R2 UK Director's Cut also contains:
• Photo gallery
• Director's Cut DVD trailer
• Oliver Stone speaks about the film's soundtrack (2 minutes)
The 2-Disc R1 US Director's Cut also contains:
• A 44-Page Booklet with photos, production notes, trivia and a foreword by Oliver Stone
• A new introduction to the movie by Oliver Stone
• NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now? (2009): a 22-minute featurette looking at how the media has changed since 1994, and how a couple like Mickey and Malory would be treated by the internet community of the early 21st century, with interviews from, amongst others, Oliver Stone, Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, journalist Steve Dunleavy, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, reality TV star Tila Tequila, internet journalist Xeni Jardin and Joey Buttafucco. Edit (Coming Soon)
No, it's a common mistake made by Tarantino fans. Initially, as explained above, Tarantino did try to block the film from going into production, but that was only because he wanted to direct it himself, and because he regretted selling it so cheaply to Jane Hamsher and Don Murphy. As time passed, however and Oliver Stone came on-board, Tarantino made peace with the fact that the film was no longer his. In the 1998 book Quentin Tarantino: Interviews, edited by Gerald Peary, there is a 1993 interview between Graham Fuller and Tarantino about NBK, which occurred just prior to the theatrical release of the film. In that interview, Tarantino is quoted as saying, I had bad feelings about Natural Born Killers for a long, long time, but I've come to terms with them now. I got together with Oliver Stone recently. I haven't read his version of the script, but in the course of talking to him, I realized something that helped defuse my feelings about it. Where you can see some affinity between Tony Scott and me, there's really none between Oliver and me in terms of what I am trying to do with my movies and what he's trying to do with his [...] To me, Oliver's films are very similar to the kind of films that Stanley Kramer used to make in the fifties and sixties, the big difference being that Kramer was kind of a clumsy filmmaker, and Oliver is cinematically brilliant. [...] It's not going to be my movie, it's going to be Oliver's, and God bless him. I hope he does a good job with it. If I wasn't emotionally attached to it, I'm sure I would find it very interesting. If you like my stuff, you might not like this movie. But if you like his stuff, you're probably going to love it. It might be the best thing he's ever done, but not because of anything to do with me. Apparently, he's planning stuff that's going to put JFK (1991) to shame as far as experiments. I actually can't wait to see it, to tell you the truth. Also taken from Peary's 1998 book, in an interview with David Wild in late 1994, Tarantino was asked if he had seen the film. He replied, No. It's just kind of out there and it doesn't have anything to do with me. I don't think I'll get much credit, and I don't think I'll get much blame. I'm definitely not looking for either. If you like it, then that's Oliver. If you don't like it, that's Oliver too. More recently, while promoting Grindhouse (2007) on a talk radio show in 2007, Tarantino stated that when he sat down to watch the film, he was enjoying it until the "terrible Mallory Knox sitcom thing." He also went on to say that he has never watched the film beyond that part. When asked if he would ever direct his own Natural Born Killers, Tarantino said that he'd come to terms with Stone's version and that he would just let it be. Edit (Coming Soon)
The Desert: An alternative version of the scene where Mickey and Mallory meet the Indian Shaman. After Mickey makes his speech about how 1990s men need choices, Mallory looses her temper with him, and forces him at gunpoint onto his knees. She then orders him to remove his pants. At this point, the Shaman appears on a hill with a herd of sheep, one of which chases after Mickey as he screams at Mallory to shoot it. After escaping the sheep, Mickey and Mallory follow the Shaman home. In his introduction to this scene, Oliver Stone says he deeply regrets cutting it, which he did in an attempt to make the film shorter.
The Courtroom: A nine-minute scene showing Mickey cross-examining one of the survivors of his and Mallory's rampage, Grace Mulberry (Ashley Judd). She recounts the events of the night when Mickey killed all of her girlfriends and her brother. After Mickey is finished questioning her, he attacks her with a pencil and stabs her to death in full view of the courtroom. Stone says he cut this scene because it brought Mickey and Mallory in the wrong direction. He says that the accidental killing of the shaman had changed something in them, but the murder of Mulberry was more like the old Mickey and Mallory, and he wanted to keep them on this new track which had been laid out for them.
The Drive-In: A scene where Jack Scagnetti disposes of the body of the murdered prostitute behind a drive-in theatre. As Scagnetti dumps the body, the camera pans upwards and we see that Mickey and Mallory are parked nearby, watching the movie and trying to figure out what they're supposed to be doing (they are on their way to get snake juice, having just been bitten by the rattlesnakes). Stone cut the scene because it was too bizarre and illogical that they would stop to watch a movie whilst dying.
Steven Wright: A much longer conversation between Wayne Gale and Dr. Emil Reingold (Steven Wright). Stone cut the scene because it simply went on too long and slowed the film down too much.
The Hun Brothers: A scene involving the Hun Brothers (David Paul and Peter Paul) professional body builders and still-living victims of the Knoxes' killing spree. They talk to Wayne Gale about their admiration for their attackers (who cut off one of each of their legs) because now they are going to be forced to work even harder than before to be the best. Ironically, the Knoxes' admiration for the Huns is what kept them from killing the twins in the first place. Stone says he deleted this scene because he misdirected it, it goes on too long, slowing the movie down too much, and the brothers are overacting (something for which he himself takes sole responsibility).
Denis Leary: An inmate (Denis Leary) delivers a rapid-fire monologue about the reasons for Mickey and Mallory's killing spree, the ultimate cause being attributed to the Pittsburgh Pirates, because they didn't draft Fidel Castro. Stone cut it because it was too long and slowed the movie down.
Alternative ending: After Mickey and Mallory escape and kill Wayne, they are travelling with Owen (Arliss Howard), who asks to accompany them. When Mickey informs him that they will be dropping him off, Owen begins making sexual advances towards Mallory. When she begins to mock him, and pulls a gun on him, he shoots Mickey, then turns the gun on Mallory; the screen cuts to black, and we hear Mallory scream. The film then ends the same way as the theatrical cut, with the montage of driving shots. In an introductory sequence, Stone says that he wanted Mickey and Mallory to get their comeuppance, but that it couldn't come from society or the law; rather, it had to come from "one of their own ilk" (i.e., another serial killer). Edit (Coming Soon)
Yes it is. The original UK edition released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (UK) in 2008 contains the same special features as the original R2 UK DVD, and includes the theatrical cut of the film only. In the US, the film is available in both a theatrical version, released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in 2008, and an Unrated Director's Cut Version, released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in 2009. Both contain the same special features as their DVD counterparts (i.e. "NBK Evolution" is available only on the Director's Cut version). The booklet from the 2009 2-Disc R1 US Director's Cut DVD is included with both Blu-ray editions of the film. Also available in both a US edition and a UK edition is a 2-disc 20th Anniversary Edition which includes all the special features from all previous DVD and Blu-ray copies of the film, both the theatrical cut and the Director's Cut, as well as a new featurette called "Natural Born Killers: Method in the Madness", which features interviews with Oliver Stone, Dale Dye and editor Hank Corwin. Edit (Coming Soon)