‘Natural Born Killers’ 4K Review: Still Vicious After 30 Years

natural born killers
natural born killers

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994), a film that garnered a fair amount of controversy upon release. In the days before information was readily available on the web, word spread like wildfire about the film’s supposed glorification of violence and brutality, attributes that mostly served to bolster its box office. Based (loosely) on a script by Quentin Tarantino (he has fully disowned the film) Stone’s vision is a hyper-kinetic mélange of media and mayhem, filled with rapid cuts, multiple film stocks, ever-changing aesthetics, and one of the most raucous soundtracks of the’90s (produced by Trent Reznor).

Has the passage of time dulled the film’s razor edge? Not in the least. Violence and serial killers are still practically deified. Sensationalism and rage bait monopolize the media. If anything Stone’s film feels more at home in 2024 than 1994.

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A synopsis can do the act of watching this feature no justice but, concisely, the film follows the exploits of Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) Knox as they weave their way across America, leaving in their wake a mess of blood and bodies. The duo become media darlings, celebrated for their crass personas and excessive, exuberant violence. But eventually, they are apprehended. Both are facing the rest of their lives behind bars when bottom-feeding journalist Wayne Gale (Robert Downey, Jr.) visits the prison where they are being held for an exclusive interview. However, Gale is unaware that his presence and Mickey’s inciting behavior are about to light up a powder keg of destruction.

Stone’s film is a violent rollercoaster, careening wildly through a series of vignettes, a faux sitcom (“I Love Mallory”), bursts of hyper-violence, animation, black-and-white, and hallucinations. Reznor’s soundtrack runs the gamut from the relaxed vocalizations of Leonard Cohen to L7’s crunchy punk-metal “Shitlist” and his own band, Nine Inch Nails.

Every performance is full of bravado, oozing with a necessary intensity to match Stone’s frenzied madness. Mickey and Mallory have their moments of quiet, as any person would, but they’re each a hair’s breadth away from murdering anyone in their vicinity. Tom Sizemore gives a career-best performance as Det. Jack Scagnetti, a man of equal derangement whose only differing characteristic is a badge. Robert Downey, Jr. goes completely off the rails once the rioting begins, pulling forth a wild streak in his attempt to match Mickey’s violent tendencies. Tommy Lee Jones is quite literally frothing at the mouth as Warden McClusky. But for my money, the best (and worst) of the bunch is Rodney Dangerfield in his lone dramatic role as Mallory’s incestuous, lecherous father, Ed Wilson.

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Scream Factory’s set of Natural Born Killers includes Stone’s director’s cut (on 4K) and the theatrical cut (Blu-ray only). While the difference in running times is a mere three minutes (119 vs. 122) Stone’s version employs over 150 different cuts along with minute bits of reinstated footage, making for a wholly different viewing experience. It is, of course, the one to watch.

There have been a handful of previous home video releases of Natural Born Killers on disc but Scream Factory’s latest edition comes from a fresh 2023 4K scan of the original camera negative. Cinematographer Robert Richardson made use of several mediums for the film: 35mm color and black-and-white film, 16mm, Super 8, animation, Beta, Hi8—all of which utilized different film stocks, too.

Needless to say, the visual language is all over the place, and the film used not only varies from scene to scene but can, and often does, change within the same shot. The only consistency here is a lack of any. Having said that this is easily the best the film has ever looked on home video. When possible, details are clearly defined, colors appear rich and vibrant, and black levels are inky and deep. Those who have seen Natural Born Killers know what to expect, and they will be more than pleased with the results.     

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A couple of English DTS-HD MA tracks are included, one in 2.0 stereo surround and the other a 5.1 surround sound remix. Either track is a winner in terms of clarity and dynamics but unsurprisingly the multi-channel mix offers a fuller experience, with a battery of sound effects and source music pummeling and enveloping viewers. Subtitles are included in English SDH.

The only extra on the 4K disc is an audio commentary with director/co-writer Oliver Stone, which was originally recorded for the laserdisc release in 1996 and has popped up on every home video edition since.

On the Blu-ray of the director’s cut, we find the same audio commentary along with a handful of new interviews:

“On Dawn’s Highway Bleeding” – Editor Hank Corwin on Natural Born Killers” (HD, 12:04), covering the process of putting together Stone’s mammoth amount of footage, the experience of working with Stone, a preview screening of the film, and more.

“The Scream of the Butterfly” – Producer Clayton Townsend on Natural Born Killers” (HD, 11:50), he discusses the genesis of the project, thoughts on the main cast of actors, memories of location shooting, and the film’s legacy.

“A Bloody Pail of Nitro” – Special Makeup Effects Artist Gordon J. Smith on Natural Born Killers” (HD, 11:14), a frequent collaborator of Stone’s, Smith talks about the makeup work done on this film and how he works with the famously demanding director.

“Wilderness of Pain” – Cinematographer Robert Richardson on Natural Born Killers” (HD, 24:13), this is the best interview of the bunch, with Richardson talking about how the film literally changed his life and the rough personal moments he had during its production.

Disc three contains the film’s theatrical cut, with Stone’s commentary also available here though edited for this slightly shorter version. Several legacy bonus features can be found here, too:

Natural Born Killers: Method in Madness” (HD, 15:47) – This featurette was produced by WB in 2004, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Stone and the film’s cast & crew.

Natural Born Killers Evolution: How Would it All Go Down Now?” (SD, 22:00) – This piece looks at how Mickey and Mallory would be received in an era of emerging social media. Produced in 2009 I can only imagine the response the duo would be garnering online in 2024, when the social media landscape has turned almost entirely toxic.

“Chaos Rising: The Storm Around Natural Born Killers” (SD, 26:30) – This takes a look at the controversy surrounding the film, with interviews from nearly all of the cast & crew.

A collection of six deleted scenes (SD, 20:49) is available, with an optional introduction to each by Stone.

An alternate ending (SD, 4:54), which does not work nearly as well, is here, too.

Finally, the film’s theatrical trailer (SD, 1:47) is available.  

Special Features:


  • Audio: 5.1 Surround DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Audio Commentary By Director/Co-Writer Oliver Stone
  • Optional English subtitles for the main feature


  • NEW On Dawn’s Highway Bleeding – Editor Hank Corwin On Natural Born Killers
  • NEW The Scream of the Butterfly – Producer Clayton Townsend On Natural Born Killers
  • NEW A Bloody Pail Of Nitro – Special Makeup Effects Artist Gordon J. Smith On Natural Born Killers
  • NEW Wilderness Of Pain – Cinematographer Robert Richardson On Natural Born Killers
  • Audio Commentary By Director/Co-Writer Oliver Stone
  • Introduction By Oliver Stone
  • Optional English subtitles for the main feature


  • Audio Commentary By Director/Co-Writer Oliver Stone
  • Natural Born Killers: Method in the Madness
  • Natural Born Killers Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now? Documentary
  • Chaos Rising: The Storm Around Natural Born Killers Documentary
  • Deleted Scenes With Introductions By Oliver Stone
  • Alternate Ending With Introduction By Oliver Stone
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English subtitles for the main feature
  • Natural Born Killers
  • Special Features


It’s hard to imagine a more definitive version could ever be released. Scream Factory has not only provided top-notch video & audio quality, but produced a number of great new extra features along with legacy bonus material, making for a killer package that will undoubtedly satisfy fans.



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