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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 23.6%
Just Average: 10.11%
Pretty Crappy: 12.92%
Sucks: 17.42%

8 reviews, 130 user ratings

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Natural Born Killers
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by iF Magazine

"Love it or hate it - It's a tough movie to ignore."
4 stars

Much has been made of the central concept behind Oliver Stone’s controversial film NATURAL BORN KILLERS since its release in 1994. The idea of portraying mass murderers as celebrities – pop idol darlings of the media – was anathema to many; perhaps this is because the notion hit a little too close to home for some.

But Stone has always been one to rile up American audiences with his conspiracy theories, and in this case, conspiratorial take on Americana. Hey, if O.J. could be a hero to so many – even after being put on trial for murder – than why not Mickey and Mallory?

Of course, Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) are the centerpieces of Stone’s satire, a couple of mixed up kids who have known little more than violence their whole lives and merely respond to the world with the same. They set out on a killing spree that eventually captures the attention of America thanks to the mass media, which is actually presented as the real villain of the piece.

As personified by a Geraldo-type TV journalist named Wayne Gale (Robert Downey, Jr.), the media and its fixation on amoral types such as Mickey and Mallory seems to be Stone’s true target in NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Sure, the young couple are serial killers, but it’s television that turns them into heroes, complete with fan clubs and merchandising the likes of which only Ricky Martin could fathom.

On the one hand, the film works in that the entire enterprise is so over-the-top that it is difficult not to enjoy the proceedings despite yourself. Of course, this feeds into Stone’s message about the media’s ability to glamorize violence – and the filmmaker is well aware of the irony here.

Harrelson and Lewis are perfectly cast as the depraved duo who are seemingly capable of the worst crimes imaginable, and Downey, Jr. is great fun as the talk show host. He gives his character an Aussie accent that reeks of cheap tabloid TV, and one can feel his euphoria as his subjects’ body count mounts.

But it’s Stone’s direction that is the real star, and the filmmaker pulls out all the stops. NATURAL BORN KILLERS is a hodgepodge of styles and techniques, throwing in and mixing color and black & white, various gauges of film from 35mm to Super 8, video and animation – you name it. Stock footage is constantly popping up on rear projection screens in lieu of proper backgrounds, and the soundtrack often mixes and matches various bits of audio all at once. The film is a psychedelic exercise in garish style, and for pure inventiveness Stone deserves praise.

Take, for example, Mallory’s flashback to the day when she first met Mickey. Portrayed like a TV sitcom complete with a laugh track, the girl’s abusive upbringing is incongruously depicted against the all-too-familiar trappings of an entertainment format ingrained in our consciousness.

As Mallory’s father (Rodney Dangerfield) delivers one-liners worthy of any sitcom character, and the programmed audience laughs on schedule, we the viewer can see that he is actually much more than the typical TV dad. He is verbally and sexually abusive to his daughter, but the outlandish format that Stone uses to portray the scenario gets the better of us. You can’t help but laugh at the insanity of it all, despite the horror of Mallory’s situation.

Having said all that, Stone’s stylistic choices ultimately defeat themselves. While the purely ingenious cinematic flourishes are very cool at the start, they cannot sustain the feature length film. Neither can the story, which becomes so heavy handed and redundant that one wishes the director had made NATURAL BORN KILLERS into a short film instead of the overlong production that it turned out to be. After awhile, the style for style’s sake aspect of the picture falls apart, and the condemnations of media and society become less a concern than the simple question, “how much longer until the final credits roll?”

The Director’s Cut of the film has been available previously on VHS and Laserdisc but is new to DVD; this disc offers a 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track and a widescreen transfer of Stone’s original version of the film that’s pretty snazzy (the director was forced to make nearly 200 quick cuts by the MPAA for the picture’s theatrical release).

Essentially, the Director’s Cut flows a bit more coherently than the previous version of the film (if coherent is even a word that can be used in conjunction with NATURAL BORN KILLERS) and there’s some more violence here as well. Regardless, unless you’re a fan of the film, you’re not going to notice much difference between the two cuts (and there’s only a few minutes difference in running time anyway).

There are lots of extras on this DVD. Six deleted scenes, each with an introduction from the director, start off the special features. The scenes themselves (which run between two and nine minutes each) aren’t particularly noteworthy, and were better off left out of the final film, but Stone’s comments on each are worth a listen. He’s honest about what works with each scene and what doesn’t, and it's this sort of insight that makes the whole concept of “behind - the - scenes” materials worthwhile – never mind studio fluff pieces. Also included is an alternate ending, with Stone’s intro as well, which offers a substantially different finale to the film.

The making-of documentary, called CHAOS RISING: THE STORM AROUND NATURAL BORN KILLERS, also pulls no punches in its discussion of the film. Clocking in at around twenty-five minutes, CHAOS RISING features interviews with Stone, Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, (an oddly emaciated) Robert Downey Jr., and many others. Again, no studio PR nonsense here, as the crew has no hesitation in discussing their intake of psychedelic mushrooms during location scouting and other such matters regarding the making of the film.

The audio commentary with Stone is also worthwhile, as he discusses the technical aspects of the film's production as well as the controversial aftermath of its release and his personal take on the themes of the piece. Stone is an intense guy, but his commentary is pretty engaging to listen to – whether you agree with his views or not. The extras on the DVD are rounded out with trailers for other Trimark video releases, including ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE, STORM OF THE CENTURY, and CUBE. There’s also a special DVD trailer for this Director’s Cut of NATURAL BORN KILLERS.

To some, Stone’s film is considered one of the best pictures of the nineties. To others, it is an interesting experiment in style that no cinema enthusiast can afford not to examine. That doesn’t necessarily make NATURAL BORN KILLERS a great film, but it is certainly not to be ignored. Once again, DVD has presented us with the best format, aside from the big screen itself, with which to study a noteworthy movie. -- Scott Collura

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=761&reviewer=119
originally posted: 02/24/01 01:43:20
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User Comments

1/09/18 Kaede My favorite movie. 5 stars
9/14/17 morris campbell used to be cool now its lame 1 stars
3/12/16 The Iron Pope I liked it as a teenager but watching it again as a grown up I see it for what it is. Crap 1 stars
5/01/15 stanley welles great, dazzling and wickedly funny 4 stars
10/21/11 Eric S. See the problem is you have to pull your head out of your ass, to see the screen 5 stars
2/16/10 86masters Absolutely pathetic! 1 stars
11/22/09 Jeff Wilder Entertaining albeit overedited. Focus more on the story next time Mr. Stone. 4 stars
10/19/09 Viv I felt like my eyes had been raped. Unnecessarily violent, pathetic attempt at a 'message' 1 stars
10/05/09 Justin Zeigler My favorite movie and I know movies. If you like transformers movie you are to dumb it 5 stars
4/08/09 Dane Youssef Too much style over substance. Stone focuses too much on his FX, not enough on simple story 3 stars
1/26/09 Shaun Wallner Kept me on the edge of the seat! 5 stars
1/20/09 Stefan One of the worst films EVER made. 1 stars
5/31/08 jointz Oliver Stone needs to look up "subtlety" and "restraint" in the dictionary. 1 stars
5/04/08 P Keenan a cinematic masterpiece, by the genius Oliver Stone. The best film of the 1990's 5 stars
1/15/08 God The people who hate this film are either cowards or guilt ridden. 5 stars
5/26/07 Christina Nothing compares. This is, hands down, the greatest film I've ever seen. 5 stars
3/27/07 fools♫gold Well, any movie that includes a Nine Inch Nails song MUST be a thoughtful masterwork. 5 stars
3/25/07 Eric R What a waste of celluloid. One of the worst films ever. 1 stars
12/30/06 Bitchflaps A complete waste of time, could have been written by a 10 year old. Wretched film. 1 stars
11/30/06 David Pollastrini very psychedelic 5 stars
11/16/06 JM Synth A Fascinating Misfire. All Sound and Fury in aid of the same old media satire 3 stars
10/03/06 Jeremy Davies Gross, but entertaining 4 stars
11/02/05 Zedd The bad guys win. They have brains.They do it for a reason. Like in real life. The truth. 5 stars
9/19/05 John it becomes what it seeks to critizice - gartuitous nonsense 1 stars
8/19/05 ES 'He was my bear claw' priceless = movie ok 3 stars
8/07/05 Winkie Good movie. (It´s called Dope Hat, dammit!) 4 stars
6/17/05 Marcia Gay Soften Even editing out Ashley Judd couldn't save this mess! 1 stars
6/12/05 Agent Sands My personal favorite of Oliver Stone's movies, and one of my favorite Tarantinos. 5 stars
6/07/05 Indrid Cold A ferocious, audacious satire. Stunning, but too scattershot to have much impact. 4 stars
5/29/05 Jake Sick, twisted, disgusting, and most of all...brilliant! 5 stars
5/24/05 The shizz It was ok, could have been way better it say....tarantino directed it????? 5 stars
3/22/05 Richard Pryor interesting movie. woody harrelson rocks 4 stars
3/02/05 marianna please remove my posts from this message board a mistake i'm sorry. 4 stars
12/28/04 Jenna Furr An extra star just because Ashley Judd was edited out of it. 2 stars
12/26/04 mjoc Mindless, senseless violence with no story. Bad stuff! 1 stars
12/23/04 iliija Pavlovich, PhD outstanding cinematic achievment 5 stars
12/06/04 Kurt Cobain Hard movie to talk about, but a good movie with a message for the most part... 4 stars
11/15/04 Jarrod this movie is almost like a shakespearean romance..u have love and murder,ponder that 4 stars
10/09/04 jmb the idea that Man Bites Dog has little explicit violence is totally wrong 4 stars
10/02/04 Daveman Well done Anthony G, you aptly represent this films fanbase as a bunch of boneheads. 1 stars
9/01/04 adolfo very good movie 5 stars
8/14/04 Anthony G eat dick dave 4 stars
7/02/04 Daveman An utterly worthless, pretentious sadistic piece of shit. 1 stars
6/18/04 Matt Cordell It only gets awesome at the prison breakout. It takes the movie in a different direction. 3 stars
4/28/04 Mallory Knox It is Fate, you can't stop fate 5 stars
4/16/04 Michael Greenwaldt An awful, overrated, pretentious piece of crap! One of the worst of all time! 1 stars
4/12/04 Feliciano The greatest antihero couple and the greatest representation of this corrupted century!!!! 5 stars
3/30/04 antipathy It's not hypocrisy, it's satire . . . 5 stars
3/06/04 mickey i love this movie this motherfucker is suckin his own cock 5 stars
3/04/04 Monster W. Kung One of the worst movies ever made. 1 stars
2/25/04 Wanda Dilbeck cold bloodly 2 stars
2/03/04 Jan I've seen the Director's Cut and was blown away. Thanks to Oliver and to Quentin, you rock! 5 stars
12/25/03 Graham A. Howarth absolutely awesome 5 stars
11/27/03 John the road to hell is paved with good intentions (and great cinematography in this case) 2 stars
10/29/03 tediboy amateur-styled exploitation movie for people high on drugs..! weird but watchable 3 stars
10/23/03 emma phizackerley brilliant 5 stars
10/10/03 Jens-Christian Jensen It's not funny. It's not exiting. It just made me sick. I don't like paying to get sick. 1 stars
9/29/03 Jade, fan of Mick and Mallory This isn't a film, its a preminition.. 5 stars
9/14/03 Sauron The best film i've ever seen! 5 stars
9/02/03 Natasha I thought it was well done, very artistic, creative, fun 4 stars
8/31/03 Senem brilliant!!it makes one sempathise with evil characters by using supreme degree of violance 5 stars
8/17/03 bobby d this movie rules 5 stars
8/09/03 Psilly Tri(:P this movie da fucking shit ya hear 5 stars
8/09/03 Geo78665 The first half is nearly a waste, but the second half is really good. 3 stars
7/17/03 AD not that great 3 stars
7/11/03 Indrid Cold A brilliantly ferocious satire of all-American shallowness and bloodlust. 4 stars
6/19/03 Vince Watch it again you fucks. 4 stars
4/25/03 hello this movie sucks mmm i will kiss Oliver Stone's ass for he is smarter than me, a simpleton, and i am amazed 1 stars
2/01/03 Monster W. Kung Unwatchable crap. 'Oh-so-surreal' headache-inducing visuals, lobotomized 'message'. Awful. 1 stars
1/30/03 Erica that movie is the worst fucking movie i have ever see in my whole life... fucking horrible! 1 stars
1/19/03 Film Liker Absolute worst; deplorable. Everybody involved in the making and writing should be put down 1 stars
12/28/02 Jack Sommersby An overdirected, bombastic debacle. 1 of the worst. 1 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Yes, Oliver, you are so dangerous... 3 stars
9/29/02 Laura Morales Awesome as a nihilistic, visceral, and darkly hilarious EXPLOITATION flick! 5 stars
9/25/02 Morally Sound It is required you see this movie at least TWO times! 5 stars
9/03/02 Joe Zappa I watched it again and really it's an important and really good movie! 5 stars
7/27/02 sdjfsdkjf deplorable. Everybody in the making and writing should be put down except Tarantino. 1 stars
6/01/02 Renee Keener Tasteless, incongrous clash of shock sensationalism and ludicrous travesty. 1 stars
4/15/02 joe shit 1 stars
3/21/02 Mr. Hat (I'm Back!) If they'd have stuck with QT's original script, it wouldn't have been so annoying & stupid! 1 stars
3/13/02 Alex One of the worst movies I've ever seen. A visceral flick with satirical pretense. 1 stars
3/01/02 Unagiboy The worst movie I've ever seen. It talks down to the audience. 1 stars
1/10/02 Iain Anglin Mister Rabbit says a moment of realization, is worth a thousands prayers. Brilliant 5 stars
12/12/01 slappy jacks i will kill anyone who dares dislike this film =) 5 stars
12/08/01 Andrew Carden Harrelson Is Cast-Typed, The Plot Is Lame, and The Screenplay Is Forgettable. 2 stars
12/05/01 john linton roberson Oliver Stone should've stopped here.Misunderstood live-action cartoon. 5 stars
11/09/01 Iain Anglin Natural Born Killers is one of the best films ever made 5 stars
9/03/01 the Grinch Ophie's right...ya seen this one once, ya seen it enough. 3 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Regardless of the heat that's come down on this film, it's one of a kind...amazing. 5 stars
7/14/01 sarah overly pretentious, but then again its oliver stone. 4 stars
5/11/01 Chris The best movie in the history of cinema - perfect message, directing , editing 5 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L Like watching a car wreck... 2 stars
3/26/01 BART it was eccentric 3 stars
3/11/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Visually dizzying, loved Mallory's home-life montage, but I didn't care for it as a whole 3 stars
2/14/01 Chris Rice It is one of the best movies I have ever seen 5 stars
1/16/01 The Terminator Wasn't what I expected, it was better 5 stars
12/30/00 Msitrab This film cannot be put into words 5 stars
11/29/00 dave(clubwraith@aol.com) kick ass 5 stars
11/28/00 The Evil Penguin Very weird in every way 2 stars
11/22/00 Stephan Pot Awesome 5 stars
10/28/00 steven hargreaves What a fucked up film. I wanted to kill someone after this. BRILLIANT 5 stars
10/23/00 JC23 Very misunderstood, I thought it was very good 5 stars
10/09/00 Xessus A very interesting movie - highly reccommended to those who can handle the content. 5 stars
9/20/00 Bruce A true cinematic experience, no where near as bad as people said. 5 stars
6/12/00 DAVID Ive never ever really liked Oliver Stone 2 stars
3/05/00 Kyle Broflovski What a bunch of fucking dreck. Even the brilliant actors can't save this slop. 2 stars
1/03/00 Paul Frantic, mesmerising, cutting brilliance 5 stars
10/07/99 sophia962 POMO angst and isn't the world a foul sty. Oh kiss my ass and go away Oliver, no one cares 1 stars
10/03/99 Freaked Looks of action, but look for subtext too 5 stars
6/16/99 J-Dogg The Perfect Film -- exciting, energetic, and gory. The critics misunderstood this one. 5 stars
5/12/99 ras_jose@yahoo.com oliver stone may be the most demented major director alive.this movie is awful. 1 stars
5/07/99 Scott this is one of my favorite movies of all time! definetely worth a look 5 stars
5/04/99 Big Dog The worst movie ever made, what a sick fuck 1 stars
1/10/99 twisted barbie a true love story 5 stars
12/05/98 tj a movie that wants to be big and important but simply isn't 2 stars
11/26/98 G A very complex movie. See it more than once and really watch 5 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink Stone's best film. A hallucinating, apocalyptic and visual nightmare... 5 stars
11/25/98 Fred It's a satire of the 1990's! Wake the fuck up and smell the maple nut crunch! 5 stars
11/18/98 MinxxDaShorty How sexy am I now flirty boy!!!! I'd watch this film just for Juilliette, but I love it all 5 stars
11/12/98 Jules Went from Crazy Wild Fresh -> Typical, Slow, and Stupid.... What a waste. 3 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob A multi-sense pummeling extravaganza. See it with some one you love! 5 stars
10/23/98 grunter pushes the envelope hard; visceral, balls-out joyride; misinterpreted masterpiece 5 stars
9/15/98 Lonatic Oliver Stone is a sick idiot! What a waste of film!! 1 stars
9/08/98 Young Einstein it had it's moments, but it was too MTV like. 4 stars
9/07/98 Damien This movie rocked, a classic to me, long live Oliver Stone 5 stars
9/04/98 Badass A wonderful satire. 5 stars
9/01/98 J-Guy trendy junk. I hated this shit. should have watched something good instead. 2 stars
8/29/98 Miss Stress had nightmares for days. 4 stars
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  26-Aug-1994 (R)


  06-Oct-1994 (R)

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