As expected for a movie about the the Khmer Rouge's totalitarian rule in late 1970s Cambodia, which carried one of the most horrible genocides and cultural purges in human history, the film has plenty of nightmarish stuff.
- Plenty of summary executions are carried out when the Khmer Rouge seize Phnom Penh. Schanberg and his friends barely escape death thanks to Pran.
- Pictured above: Pran tries to escape a labor camp and falls into a muddy pit filled with human bones and decomposed bodies. He gets up and discovers the eponymous "killing fields" in all their massive scale and sheer horror, paddy fields filled with human remains up to the horizon. Mike Oldfield's soundtrack drives the point home.
- Children getting brainwashed by the Khmer Rouge. They are forced to cut ties to their parents, symbolically erasing said ties on chalkboards, then turned into soldiers. They also become executioners for the regime, suffocating people with plastic bags.
- The Khmer Rouge reject pretty much everything about modernity, Western culture and urban life, forcing agriculture on all the people they don't kill, and track and kill intellectuals / educated people / people who speak foreign languages mercilessly to brainwash the whole country. People who don't have work-worn hands face beatings, humiliation or death. Pran has to maintain Obfuscating Stupidity to survive.
- They kill anyone who they suspect of even thinking about the past; after all, nothing has existed before the Khmer Rouge.
- The most terrifying thing about all this? It all actually happened.