Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Natural Born Killers
Natural Born Killers is a 1994 motion picture directed by Oliver Stone and starring Juliette Lewis and Woody Harrelson. Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Sizemore and Tommy Lee Jones are also featured.
Quentin Tarantino wrote the screenplay. Stone, Richard Rutowski , and David Veloz extensively edited the play. Tarantino, unhappy with the rewritten version, publicly disowned the script and asked that his name be removed from the screenwriting credits.
The movie intended to highlight the sensationalised way crimes are depicted in the media and the way killers are virtually depicted as heroes. It was criticized for the press for its violent content.
The movie's tagline is "The Media made them superstars."
The film opens with Mickey Knox (Harrelson) and his girlfriend Mallory (Lewis) in a roadside cafe. Without provocation, Mallory attacks and kills a man who tries to dance with her at the jukebox. Mickey, meanwhile, knifes to death two other customers and shoots dead the chef and the waitress. They leave one witness alive, as is their custom, to tell the tale.
After the titles, there is a flashback sequence to how the murderous pair met up. Mickey was a delivery man who turned up at the house where Mallory lived with her abusive father (Rodney Dangerfield), her mother and her younger brother. The scene is portrayed as a sitcom with a canned laughter track, the 'audience' laughing hardest when Mallory is subjected to lewd comments and groping by her repulsive father. When Mickey arrived with a delivery of beef, he fell in love with Mallory and whisked her away on a date, stealing her father's car in the process. Mickey was arrested and imprisoned for car-theft, but he escaped and returned to Mallory's house, killing her parents and taking Mallory away (they spare her ten-year-old brother, who was played by Oliver Stone's son, Sean.)
Back in the present the pair continue their aimless crime-spree, slaughtering their way across the country and claiming fifty-two victims. Following them are two characters who have an obsessive interest in Mickey and Mallory for the purposes of acquiring fame and glory, as well as furthering their own careers. The first is a policeman, Detective Scagnetti (Sizemore), who is seemingly in love with Mallory who wants to be the hero who captures the pair and saves the country. Then there is journalist Wayne Gale (Downey Jnr.) who hosts a show called 'American Maniacs', profiling mass-killers in a blatantly sensationalist way. Various clips of his programme on Mickey and Mallory are shown, with Gale sounding outraged as he details the pair's crimes, although off-air he clearly regards their crimes as a fantastic way of helping to improve his show's ratings. It is Gale who is mostly responsible for elevating Mickey and Mallory into heroes, with his show featuring interviews with people expressing their admiration for the mass-killers as if they were pop stars.
Eventually the pair are arrested after a shootout at a drugstore, Scagnetti on hand to claim the glory.
The movie jumps ahead a year. After a surreal trial that is shown in a flashback in clips from 'American Maniacs', complete with fans outside the courthouse with banners saying "Murder ME Mickey!!", the homicidal couple have been imprisoned but are shortly due to be shipped to a mental asylum after being declared insane.
Scagnetti arrives at the prison and meets up with Warden McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones), and the pair devise a plan to get rid of Mickey and Mallory; Scagnetti will shoot the pair when they are being transported to the asylum and McClusky will arrange it to look like they were trying to escape. They will both - so they believe - come out looking like heroes.
Wayne Gale is also at the prison and manages to get Mickey to agree to a live interview straight after the Superbowl. At the time, Mallory is held in solitary elsewhere in the prison, ready to be shipped out with Mickey to an asylum.
As planned, just after the Superbowl, Mickey is interviewed by Gale. He gives a rather rambling speech which stirs up the other inmates (who are watching the interview on TV in the recreation room) who start rioting. Full blown mayhem breaks out with inmates torturing and murdering guards and fellow inmates.
Warden McClusky heads down to the control room, leaving Mickey alone with Gale, the film crew and several guards. After elbow-smashing a guard in the face and stealing his shotgun, Mickey blasts to death most of the guards and takes the survivors and film crew hostage. He leads them through the prison riot to find Mallory. Gale follows, giving a live television interview as people die all around him. Meanwhile, Mallory is being savagely beaten in her cell by Scagnetti for refusing to submit to his attempts at seduction. With Gale and his crew filming everything, Mickey rescues Mallory, Scagnetti being brutally killed in the process.
After being rescued by a rather mysterious prisoner named Owen, Mickey and Mallory take cover in a blood-splattered shower-room. By this time Gale has snapped and has shot a number of prison guards, getting a big thrill out of it in the process. Warden McClusky is outside the shower room with dozens of guards. Utterly obsessed with getting Mickey and Mallory, McClusky threatens to storm the place, despite the protests of his guards who insist that there are more pressing problems, namely the hundreds of other rioting inmates heading their way.
Mickey and Mallory, together with their saviour, Owen, eventually manage to escape, holding guns to the heads of Wayne Gale and a prison-guard hostage, Gale's camera capturing everything. McClusky is unable to order his guards to shoot because Gale and the captured guard would be killed. After Mickey and Mallory flee, McClusky and his guards are massacred by hordes of inmates who eventually burst through into the area.
In a rural location Mickey and Mallory give a final interview to Wayne Gale before - much to his surprise and horror - they ceremonially execute him, capturing it on the camera that is still transmitting live images of the event all across the country.
- Denis Leary made a cameo appearance in the movie, although it was edited out of the theatrical release.
- Several murderers are alleged to have been inspired by the movie Natural Born Killers. For example, 18-year-olds Sarah Edmondson and her boyfriend Benjamin Darras supposedly watched the movie before carrying out a robbery that resulted in murder. Relatives of one victim filed a lawsuit against Stone. (see External Links for article relating to these incidents.)
- Many of the inmates in the prison scenes were real prisoners, including several convicted murderers.
- The fate of the inmate known only as Owen was not explained in the original theatrical release; it is implied he is some sort of guardian angel. In the first scene in the movie, Owen briefly appears sitting at a table in the cafe, but his image fades out and vanishes. An ending was filmed that showed Mickey and Mallory escaping in a van with Owen, who they plan on dropping off at the next town. Owen starts demanding to have sex with Mallory as a reward for helping her and Mickey escape. When this suggestion is vehemently rejected, Owen shoots Mickey and Mallory dead. This ending can be seen in the Special Features section of the DVD release.
- Asesinos por Naturaleza at the Internet Movie Database (A Mexican film borrowing the Spanish translation of the title.)
- Natural born copycats, a 2002 article from The Guardian on Stone's response to claims that the movie inspired several murders
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