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[[quoteright:198:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Naturalbornkillersposter_541.JPG]]

->''"The media made them superstars."''

Considered to be one of the most controversial films of the 1990s, ''Natural Born Killers'' is a film by Creator/OliverStone. It derives from a screenplay written by Creator/QuentinTarantino (which itself was a rewrite of friend Creator/RogerAvary's script, The Open Road, elements of which also contributed to ''Film/TrueRomance''), who conceived it as a dark exploitation thriller (with elements of satire), but Stone extensively rewrote it to the point where Tarantino [[DisownedAdaptation disowns it as part of his work.]] Stone turned the story into a satire of [[IfItBleedsItLeads 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 (Creator/WoodyHarrelson) and Mallory Knox (Creator/JulietteLewis), 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 Creator/RobertDowneyJr) turns them into pop culture icons.

While the equally corrupt detective who arrested them (Tom Sizemore) and the warden (Creator/TommyLeeJones) 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 MisaimedFandom 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. (Ironically enough, Tarantino's original script arguably places more emphasis on the "evil" of the Knoxes--making them less sympathetic.[[note]] Tarantino himself soundly condemned the "sitcom" sequences in the film, apparently for that reason.[[/note]] And those on the "side of the law" are ''not'' the NotSoDifferent types Stone makes them into....)

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!!This film provides examples of:

* AbusiveParents: Mallory's dad. He's been sexually abusing Mallory for years, constantly volleying insults and threatening violence towards her and the rest of his family. It's implied that Mickey didn't have the best parents either, as a flashback shows them getting into an argument and a physical fight.
* AccidentalMurder: [[spoiler:Mickey accidentally shoots the Native American man sheltering him and Mallory after coming out of a nightmare.]]
* AdaptationalHeroism: [[DownplayedTrope To an extent]]--the Knoxes are hardly "heroes"; still, Stone's film has them moralizing (eventually calling out Gayle for his antics) and expressing regret for some of their actions. The AbusiveParents angle also provides sympathy of sorts for them. None of this is in Tarantino's original script, which has the couple as something of a dark {{Deconstruction}} of the ''Film/BonnieAndClyde'' concept.
* AdaptationalVillainy:
** Jack Scagnetti was written by Quentin as more of a tired, worn-out KnightInSourArmor, living with a reputation based on past glory, who ''eventually'' [[KnightTemplar snaps and attacks Mallory in the climax]]--as opposed to the corrupt, murderous DirtyCop obsessed with Mallory that Stone's film made him.
** In addition, Mallory's parents were not originally written as sexually abusive. In Tarantino's original script, the given reason for Mickey killing Mallory's parents was that they wouldn't give their blessing to the couple's marriage. The DisproportionateRetribution turned UpToEleven is discussed by Scagnetti and company as being the couples' EstablishingCharacterMoment.
** Wayne Gayle does ''not'' kill anyone himself in Tarantino's script.
* AmbiguouslyHuman: Owen Taft - [[spoiler: he appears out of nowhere at the beginning and end of the film, and in the original cut, just before he kills the Knoxes he says he "came from the fire."]]
%%* AppealToInherentNature: "Look, bitch, you knew I was a snake."
* AssholeVictim:
** Mallory's father was a sexually abusive jackass, and Jack Scagnetti strangled a prostitute just to kill someone. You won't feel too bad when they get their comeuppance.
** [[spoiler: Wayne Gale exploits Mickey and Mallory's crime spree for ratings, and during the prison riot starts killing people himself. Mickey and Mallory later kill him, partially out of disgust and contempt for his AttentionWhore behavior.]]
%%** The redneck gang.
* AxCrazy: Mickey and Mallory, but Jack Scagnetti and Wayne Gale also get in on the act.
%%* BadassBeard: Wayne Gale
* BaldOfEvil: Mickey shaves his head towards the end of the movie. This is somewhat subverted though, as soon after this [[spoiler:he and Mallory decide to stop killing and have a family.]]
* BerserkButton: The only person who calls Mallory "You stupid bitch" and lives is Mickey.
* Bloodier And Gorier: the NC-17 version is bloodier, gorier, and way more graphically violent than the theatrical release.
* BottomlessMagazines: 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.
* CatapultNightmare: [[spoiler:Mickey has one, coming out of it shooting a person.]]
* ChewingTheScenery:
** [=McCluskey=], with his [[EvilLaugh "horrific fucking laugh"]].
*** Who can forget "Jesus Harold Christ on a fucking rubber crutch!"
** Wayne Gale, of course. "For the first time of my life, '''I'M ALIIIIIIIIIIVE!'''"
%%* ClusterFBomb
* CopKiller: Mickey and Mallory kill plenty of cops during their crime spree and escape. This causes many instances of PoliceBrutality directed towards them once they're captured.
* CultSoundtrack: The [[Music/NineInchNails Trent Reznor]]-compiled soundtrack, which includes songs by Music/LeonardCohen, Music/PattiSmith, Music/BobDylan, Dr. Dre and Tha Dogg Pound.
* DamselInDistress: Mickey does, effectively, rescue Mallory from her immediately-dangerous plight (continuous sexual and verbal abuse from her father) and liberate her from the house in which she's basically trapped. This does also involve him orchestrating the killing of the monster that is keeping her there (her abusive father).
** [[spoiler:Mickey later saves her again, this time breaking her out of her jail cell and killing Jack Scagnetti holding her hostage.]]
* DarkActionGirl: Mallory is as capable and ruthless a murderer as Mickey.
* DerangedAnimation: During some of the more psychedelic scenes, we're treated to random frames of Mickey running down a hallway and a perverse WesternAnimation/FelixTheCat attacking Mallory and getting shot.
* DinerBrawl: Or a Diner Massacre anyway. In the first scene of the movie, Mickey and Mallory start a brawl at a diner and kill almost everyone there.
* DonutMessWithACop: One of the police officers Mickey and Mallory are shown killing is exiting a donut shop.
* DrivenToSuicide: Mickey's father shot himself right in front of his son. [[StartOfDarkness It's implied that this is one of the reasons Mickey became a killer in the present day]].
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Downplayed. Despite killing over 50 people, Mickey is still disgusted at how the media has sensationalized his actions. He glorifies in it because he's an insane killer - what's ''their'' excuse?
-->" You'll never understand Wayne. You and me, we're not even the same species. I used to be you then I evolved. From where you're standing you're a man. From where I'm standing you're an ape. You're not even an ape; you're a ''media person''. Media's like the weather, only it's man made. Murder is ''pure''. You're the one made it ''impure''. You're buying and selling fear."
* TheFamilyThatSlaysTogether: [[spoiler:[[SubvertedTrope Subverted]]. Mickey and Mallory end their killing sprees after they decide to settle down and have kids.]]
* FanDisservice:
** Mallory's armpits.
** The numerous [[FootFocus shots of Mallory's bare feet.]]
* TheFarmerAndTheViper: A variation is recounted by a Native American who shelters Mickey and Mallory. [[spoiler: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.]]
* FreezeFrameBonus: The credits of the fake sitcom "I Love Mallory" are full of [[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110632/faq#.2.1.12 punny names and jokes]] such as "Best Boy: C. Noevil".
* FreudianExcuse:
** 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 (Charles Whitman).
* HairTriggerTemper: Mallory is quick to anger, and even Mickey accidentally cause her to have violent outbursts.
* HilariouslyAbusiveChildhood: The scene showing Mallory's family life is done in the style of a 50'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.
* HollywoodHealing:
** For someone who has just been bitten by a rattlesnake, Mickey didn't have a problem engaging in a shootout.
** Also, Mallory gets sprayed in the eyes with mace by Scagnetti and is able to see perfectly not two minutes later.
* IfItBleedsItLeads: A ruthless satire of this trope, exemplified by Wayne Gale, a reporter so desperate for ratings that he'll [[UpToEleven kill people for it]].
%%* IllKillYou: Everyone. Yes, everyone.
* ImportantHaircut: Mickey shaves his head, right before his interview.
* KarmaHoudini:
** [[spoiler: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, [[spoiler:in the deleted scene. See KarmicDeath below.]]
* KarmicDeath:
** [[spoiler:In a deleted scene, instead of [[KarmaHoudini running away and raising a family]], Mickey and Mallory are killed by the same serial killer that helped them escape the prison, because [[WordOfGod Stone said]] that the best comeuppance for the two was to be killed by "their own ilk".]]
** [[spoiler:When Wayne Gale, the bastard who propagated Mickey and Mallory's killings, starts killing people himself for the sake of ratings, Mickey and Mallory give him a ''vicious'' TheReasonYouSuckSpeech before killing him as well.]]
* KillerCop: Jack Scagnetti strangles a prostitute to death for the fun of it. [[HeroAntagonist He's also the detective assigned to capture Mickey and Mallory]].
* MindScrew: All the strange imagery inserted almost subliminally into the film, such as a beheaded, bloody man sitting on a couch which also begins moving near the end of the film (the fake sitcom at the beginning is also credited to "Headless Mann Ltd."; see FreezeFrameBonus above).
%%* MoodDissonance: All the frakkin' time.
* NoFourthWall: Played with during Wayne Gale's televised interview with Mickey at the prison (which is aired as the "halftime show" during the Super Bowl). At one point the screen unexpectedly fades out...and then fades back in to show a Super Bowl commercial for Coca-Cola. But we don't see the frame of any television screen around the image, in effect fusing us with the in-universe audience watching the interview. [[YouBastard Pretty sobering if you think about it.]]
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: Mickey is on the very justified receiving end of this by police after the shootout that leads to his and Mallory's arrest.
* OutlawCouple: Mickey and Mallory are the poster children of this trope.
* ParentalIncest: Mallory's dad sexually abused her for years.
* PetTheDog: Mickey and Mallory avoid killing Mallory's brother after they had previously killed her mom and dad.
* ThePlan: [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] in that Mickey and Mallory didn't actually plan the riot. They instead attribute their miraculous escape to "fate."
* PoliceBrutality: The police beat the crap out of Mickey and Mallory due to their status as cop killers. [[spoiler:Later on, Jack Scagnetti and [=McCluskey=] plot to have Mickey and Mallory killed while being transported to a mental institution.]]
* PrisonRiot: After Mickey's interview with Wayne Gale, the whole prison goes apeshit and a massive riot breaks out. [[spoiler: Mickey and Mallory exploit this in order to escape.]]
* PureIsNotGood: Mickey calls murder "pure", and that media sensationalism makes it "impure".
* RedOniBlueOni: Mallory is very emotional and short-tempered, while Mickey is often calm and collected.
* RevisedEnding: Creator/OliverStone's original ending had Mickey and Mallory being murdered by the prisoner who helps them escape from prison.
* RippedFromTheHeadlines: Mickey and Mallory are based loosely on [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Starkweather Charles Starkweather]] and [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caril_Ann_Fugate Caril Fugate]].
%%* ScaryShinyGlasses: Mickey's glasses.
* SelfMadeOrphan: With Mickey's help, Mallory kills both her parents.
* SerialKiller: Mickey and Mallory kill dozens of people over the course of several weeks.
%%* SlasherSmile
* SpareAMessenger: Mickey and Mallory always leave one survivor at the scenes of their killing sprees... Until the very end, when they shoot the journalist that was with them because he unfortunately had a camera which documented everything, serving as a means of telling their story.
* StrawmanNewsMedia: A satire of this trope and IfItBleedsItLeads, as the amount of attention the news gives to Mickey and Mallory's killing spree turns them into celebrities.
* AThreesomeIsHot: Mickey proposes to Mallory to have sex with a female hostage on their wedding anniversary. Mallory is enraged by the suggestion and leaves, prompting Mickey to rape the hostage.
* TitleDrop: "Shit, man. I'm a Natural Born Killer."
* {{Ubermensch}}: Mickey displays a mindset like this during his interview with Wayne Gale.
--> "You and me, we're not even the same species. I used to be you then I evolved. From where you're standing you're a man. From where I'm standing you're an ape."
* UnholyMatrimony: Mickey and Mallory are a married couple that go on a cross country killing spree over the course of the movie.
* ViewersAreMorons: InUniverse. Wayne Gale believes so, dismissing his viewers as "zombies".
* VillainousCrush: Jack Scagnetti has a rather creepy attraction towards Mallory.
* VillainProtagonist: Obviously, the Knoxes, but even the people assigned to their capture have their villainous moments; Jack Scagnetti strangles a prostitute to death for seemingly no reason.
* WeddingRingRemoval: Played with. Mallory takes off her wedding ring to wash the dishes, but Mickey is horrified by this and insists that she must never take it off.
* YouGottaHaveBlueHair: Mallory's mother has purple hair, mostly a ShoutOut to Alex's mother in ''Film/AClockworkOrange''.
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