Natural Born Killers

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Considered to be one of the most controversial films of the 1990s, Natural Born Killers is a film by Oliver Stone. It derives from a screenplay written by Quentin Tarantino, who conceived it as an exploitation thriller, but Stone extensively rewrote it to the point where Tarantino had his name taken off the credits. Stone turned the story into a satire of the incestuous relationship between crime, the media and pop culture, and how the latter two glorify the former and turn mass murderers into cult heroes. The film tells the tale of Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis), who captivate the world with a cross-country murder spree. Despite being sadistic and largely unrepentant murderers, the media (led by a tabloid journalist played by Robert Downey, Jr.) turns them into pop culture icons.

While the equally corrupt detective who arrested them (Tom Sizemore) and the warden (Tommy Lee Jones) at the prison holding the two plot to have Mickey and Mallory killed while transporting them to a mental institution for psychiatric testing, Mickey uses a post-Super Bowl special interview to stage a riot in the prison and escapes with his bride to freedom, leaving a trail of carnage in their wake as the entire prison goes up in flames and the staff is savagely slaughtered by the prisoners.

A psychedelic and surrealistic film (one that has been called "The Most Expensive Student Film Ever Made") the film sadly fell victim to Misaimed Fandom as some fans actually ended up liking Mickey and Mallory and their ultra-violent killing spree, which was what Stone was condemning. Similarly, quite a few critics failed to see the condemnation of media hype, instead fixating on the perceived glorification of violence.


Tropes used in Natural Born Killers include:
  • Abusive Parents: Mallory's parents, and maybe Mickey's, too.
    • Well, maybe not abusive, but as a child, Mickey did see his father kill himself.
  • Asshole Victim: Mallory's father and Jack Scagnetti.
  • Badass Beard: Wayne Gale.
  • Bald of Evil: Mickey towards the end.
  • Berserk Button: The only person who calls Mallory "You stupid bitch" and lives is Mickey.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Nobody really seems to be particularly concerned with bullet counts here. A particularly obvious example happens during the prison riot, when Wayne fires a pistol with the slide locked open.
  • Broken Aesop: Debatable, but Stone does make the life of crime seem pretty attractive at times...
  • Chewing the Scenery: Wayne Gale, of course, and Mc Cluskey, with his "horrific fucking laugh"
  • Cult Soundtrack: The Trent Reznor-compiled soundtrack, which includes songs by Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Dr. Dre and Tha Dogg Pound.
  • Deranged Animation: During some of the more psychedelic scenes, we're treated to random frames of Mickey running down a hallway and a perverse Felix the Cat attacking Mallory and getting shot.
  • Diner Brawl: Or a Diner Massacre anyway.
  • Dirty Cop: Jack Scagnetti and the prison warden.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Arguably the whole point of the movie, and a vicious satire of it.
  • The Family That Slays Together: Subverted. Mickey and Mallory end their killing sprees after they decide to settle down and have kids.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: A variation is recounted to by a Native American who shelters Mickey and Mallory.Sure enough, he's killed by Mickey, but accidentally - Mickey comes out of a nightmare and fires his gun on reflex. Mallory is not amused.
  • Freudian Excuse: Mickey and Mallory both had abusive fathers, with Mallory's dad molesting her and Mickey's dad killing himself in front of his son.
    • Scagnetti had a similar excuse, as his mother was killed by a spree killer.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Subverted HARD, possibly in staunch defiance of the trope played straight. The scene showing Mallory's family life is done in the style of a 90's sitcom, complete with canned laughter, exaggerated set design, and sitcom-styled joke script... which informs the viewer that Mallory's father has been raping her for longer than her brother has been alive (because the only reason Kevin was born is because Dad didn't realize he was in his own bedroom and not Mallory's) and her mother doesn't object because he beats her.
  • Hollywood Healing: For someone who has just bitten by a rattle snake, Mickey didn't have a problem engaging in a shootout.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: A ruthless satire of this trope.
  • I'll Kill You!: Everyone. Yes, everyone.
  • Important Haircut: Mickey, right before his interview.
  • Karma Houdini: The two run away and spend their days in an RV, raising their kids and being normal. Oliver Stone was actually aiming for this trope - they're heroic, in a twisted sort of way, because they killed the mass media figure that propagated their doings, the corrupt cop and the warden.
    • Not so, however, in the deleted scene. See Karmic Death below.
  • Karmic Death: In a deleted scene, instead of running away and raising a family, Mickey and Mallory are killed by the same serial killer that helped them escape the prison, because Stone said that the best comeuppance for the two was to be killed by "their own ilk".
  • Mood Dissonance: All the frakkin' time.
  • Outlaw Couple: Mickey and Mallory.
  • The Plan: Subverted in that Mickey and Mallory didn't actually plan the riot. They instead attribute their miraculous escape to "fate."
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Mickey's glasses.
  • Slasher Smile
  • Strawman News Media: Type 4.
  • Title Drop: "Shit, man. I'm a Natural Born Killer."
  • Villain Protagonists
  • What The Hell, Villain?: When Mickey accidentally kills the Indian, Mallory really lays into him.
  • X Meets Y: Kalifornia meets Network.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Mallory's mother has purple hair, mostly a Shout-Out to Alex's mother in A Clockwork Orange.