Natural Born Killers (1994)

Twenty-six years ago today, the film Natural Born Killers premiered. Written by Quentin Tarantino, directed by Oliver Stone, starring Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, and Robert Downey Jr., and apparently hated by most film critics. I remember loving it. You should watching this movie.

Title: Natural Born Killers
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Produced by: Jane Hamsher, Don Murphy, Clayton Townsend
Screenplay by: Richard Rutowski, Oliver Stone, David Veloz
Story by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Sizemore
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Edited by: Hank Corwin, Brian Berdan
Production Company: Regency Enterprises
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Release date: August 26, 1994
Running time: 119 minutes
Budget: $34 million
Box office: $50.3 million

Mickey Knox and his wife Mallory stop at a diner in the New Mexico desert. A duo of rednecks arrive and begin sexually harassing Mallory as she dances by a jukebox. She initially encourages it before beating one of the men viciously. Mickey joins her, and the couple murder everyone in the diner, save one staff member, to whom they proudly declare their names before leaving. The couple camp in the desert, and Mallory reminisces about how she met Mickey, a meat deliveryman who serviced her family’s household. After a whirlwind romance, the couple murdered Mallory’s sexually abusive father and neglectful mother before having an unofficial marriage ceremony on a bridge.

Later, Mickey and Mallory hold a woman hostage in their hotel room. Angered by Mickey’s desire for a threesome, Mallory leaves, and Mickey rapes the hostage. Mallory drives to a nearby gas station, where she flirts with a mechanic. They begin to have sex on the hood of a car, but Mallory kills him after suffering a flashback of being raped by her father. The pair continue their killing spree, ultimately claiming fifty-two victims in New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. Pursuing them is Detective Jack Scagnetti, who became obsessed with mass murderers after witnessing his mother being shot and killed by Charles Whitman when he was eight. Beneath his heroic facade, he is also a violent psychopath and has murdered prostitutes in his past. Following the Knoxes murder spree is a self-serving tabloid journalist, Wayne Gale, who profiles them on his show, American Maniacs, soon elevating them to cult hero status.

Mickey and Mallory get lost in the desert after taking psychedelic mushrooms, and stumble upon a ranch owned by Warren Red Cloud, a Navajo man who provides them food and shelter. As Mickey and Mallory sleep, Warren senses evil in the couple and attempts to exorcise the demon he perceives in Mickey, chanting over him as he sleeps. Mickey, who has nightmares recounting his abusive parents, awakens during the exorcism, and shoots Warren to death. As the couple flee, they feel inexplicably guilty, and come across a giant field of rattlesnakes, where they are badly bitten. They reach a drugstore to purchase snakebite antidote, but the store is sold out. A pharmacist recognizes the couple and sets off an alarm before Mickey kills him. Police arrive shortly after and accost the couple, which ends in a shootout followed by police beating the couple while a news crew films the action.

One year later, an imprisoned Mickey and Mallory are scheduled to be transferred to psychiatric hospitals. Scagnetti orders Warden Dwight McClusky to kill the Knoxes during their transfer, and claim they tried to escape. Meanwhile, Gale has persuaded Mickey to give a live interview that will air after the Super Bowl. During the interview, Mickey declares himself a “natural born killer,” a phrase that inspires other inmates to start a prison riot. After the interview is terminated by McClusky, Mickey is left alone with Gale, the film crew, and several guards; he manages to overpower a guard and kill most of the people in the room, taking Gale and several others hostage. Gale and his crew give a live television report that profiles the riot. Meanwhile, Scagnetti attempts to seduce Mallory in her cell. She responds by beating him viciously, and another guard subdues her with tear gas. Mickey and Gale reach Mallory’s cell, where Mickey kills the guards and engages in a standoff with Scagnetti before Mallory murders him.

Gale’s entire television crew is killed trying to escape the riot, while Gale himself begins indulging in violence, shooting at prison guards. Mickey and Mallory steal a van and escape into the woods with Gale, to whom they give a final interview before declaring that he must die. He attempts various arguments to change their minds, appealing to their trademark practice of leaving one survivor; Mickey informs him they are leaving a witness to tell the tale, his camera. Gale accepts his fate and is shot to death. Unbeknownst to the three, the entire exchange is transmitted to a horrified news anchor through Gale’s in-ear microphone.

Several years later, Mickey and Mallory, still on the run, travel in an RV, as a pregnant Mallory watches their two children play.

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