Various Artists: Natural Born Killers

Wearing his film critic's hat, Steve Sutherland recalls seeing Oliver Stone's movie in the early 1990s and reviews the soundtrack album that's now on 180g vinyl

She hits me from behind so I don't see it coming. I go down and she piles on top of me. People scatter. A couple of glasses smash, dislodged from a nearby table in the melee. She's pummelling me now, and wrestling. And she's laughing. So am I. I think she must be drunk – I know I am…

Anyway, this may not be the most famous scuffle ever to take place in the Troubadour. Actually not even close. After all, this is the esteemed venue on Santa Monica Boulevard in LA's West Hollywood where, in 1974, a wasted John Lennon was forcefully ejected along with his mate Harry Nilsson, for heckling The Smothers Brothers. Guns N' Roses have initiated a fair few rum dos here too, so the lady and I are in pretty good company.

Oh, do forgive me. Where are my manners? Reader, meet my wriggling assailant, Ms Juliette Lewis. Yup, that Juliette Lewis. Oscar nominated actor for Martin Scorsese's remake of Cape Fear, she of the frozen eyes in the wonderful 1989 National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. So I guess you want to know why she's decided I need a good biffing, right?


Why That Biffing?
Sorry, no idea. No idea at all. We'd only just been introduced, Ms Lewis still drenched in the sweat-soaked catsuit that she'd been wearing on stage with her band The Licks. I said 'hi'. She said 'hi'. We made gig small talk, then I asked her if I was right in thinking that the bridge upon which she marries Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers is the one that spans the Rio Grande North of Taos, New Mexico, one of my favourite places on earth.

She said she didn't know. I said I love Natural Born Killers, which is quite an understatement. She said thanks. Then, ten minutes later: Wham!… and then… Bam! Kind of like the movie, really.

Natural Born Killers is a stunning piece of work. Literally stunning. The first time I saw it I was again in LA, in 1994, and the flick was showing at the Beverly Centre. When I left the screening I wandered aimlessly round the mall, my senses still trying to process all I'd experienced. I was, quite frankly, in shock and it took a good 30 minutes for me to snap out of it.

A sensory overload, NBK is not to everyone's taste. Director Oliver Stone has a way of rubbing folks up the wrong way and other of his movies like The Doors and JFK pretty much divide audiences between admirers and haters. Nothing he's done, though, matches NBK for controversy.

Most people who've seen it can't make up their mind whether this tale of young-and-in-love serial killers Mickey – played by Woody Harrelson – and Mallory Knox, portrayed by Ms Lewis is, as online site so vividly puts it – 'A smartly satirical, deconstructive take on our collective fascination with violence, knowingly self-aware of its own culpability? Or just a stylised w*** over sexy guns and sexier sermonizing, excusing that same exploitative bloodshed so long as it's performed with panache and a muddled thesis that blames it all on the media?' Or, maybe it can be described as both?

This (av again) is a 'deliberately clanging, haranguing headache of a movie. Watching it is often like snorting speed and watching 15 separate student films simultaneously, all while Oliver Stone rants in your ear about the dangers of the idiot box'.

Thrills And Chills
The movie was a massive drama even before it began shooting, going through three separate writers, one of whom was Quentin Tarantino, who left a ton of musical clues – 'good god almighty rockabilly tune', etc – in his written draft before deciding that he hated the finished piece for being too 'obvious'.