Natural Born Killers (1994) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

  • Mickey Knox and Mallory Wilson aren't your typical lovers - after killing her abusive father, they go on a road trip where, every time they stop somewhere, they kill pretty well everyone around them. They do however leave one person alive at every shootout to tell the story and they soon become a media sensation thanks to sensationalized reporting. Told in a highly visual style.

  • The misadventures of Mickey and Mallory: outcasts, lovers, and serial killers. They travel across Route 666 conducting psychadelic mass-slaughters not for money, not for revenge, just for kicks. Glorified by the media, the pair become legendary folk heroes; their story told by the single person they leave alive at the scene of each of their slaughters.

  • Delivery boy Mickey Knox falls in love with customer Mallory Wilson. He soon helps her kill her abusive father and enabling mother, beginning their macabre journey down Route 666. Their M.O.: every few miles, they attack everyone within their site, invariably leaving only one person alive to tell the tale. The two are made famous by unscrupulous reporter Wayne Gale, as they run across the countryside, pursued by the equally sadistic Jack Scagnetti. Just before the trial, a ratings-whoring interview by the same reporter who made them famous leads to pandemonium, not just within the prison itself, but nationwide. A satire of the media, public opinion, and the modern attitude toward violence.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Introduction

    Mickey Knox and his wife Mallory go to a roadside café in the New Mexico desert. They appear to be normal customers, with Mickey eating key lime pie and Mallory dancing to rock 'n' roll on the jukebox. A group of rednecks arrive and one begins dancing and flirting with Mallory. She encourages him for a moment, then attacks him without provocation by smashing his beer bottle as he drinks from it. A fistfight ensues, with Mallory beating the man. When the redneck's friend intervenes, Mickey cuts off one of the cowboy's fingers and stabs him with a large Bowie-style knife. Mickey and Mallory then begin killing the diner's patrons, culminating in a morbid game of "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" to decide who lives and who dies among the last 2 customers. After executing their final victim, Mabel the waitress, the couple make sure the only survivor, a cook, remembers their names and promises to tell the authorities who committed the massacre before they embrace and declare their undying love for each other.

    Part I

    Mickey and Mallory are in a desert at night. Mallory is reminiscing about when they first met. A flashback shows Mickey as a butcher's deliveryman who came to the house where Mallory lived with her abusive father (Rodney Dangerfield), her neglectful mother (Edie McClurg), and her younger brother Kevin. The flashback is portrayed as a 1950s-type sitcom with a canned laughter track, the "audience" laughing hardest when Mallory is subjected to lewd comments and hints of molestation by her father.

    Mickey instantly falls in love with Mallory. They leave together, Mickey stealing Mallory's father's car. Mickey is arrested and imprisoned for grand theft auto, but he subsequently escapes a horse work farm during a tornado and returns to Mallory's house. The two kill her father by beating him with a jack handle and drowning him in a fish tank, then burn her mother alive in bed. They spare her ten-year-old brother, Mallory telling him that he is free. They leave to rapturous applause from the "audience."

    Mickey and Mallory get "married" on the side of a bridge, exchanging snake wedding bands, cutting their palms and mixing their blood which drips down into the river below. They drive to a motel for the night. After watching television, they begin to have sex until Mickey is distracted by a female hostage. Furious with Mickey's notion that they have a threesome, Mallory drives to a nearby gas station where she flirts with the mechanic. They begin to have sex on the hood of a car, but Mallory is angered by his over-aggressive oral sex and shoots him to death. Back at the motel, Mickey rapes the hostage.

    Part II

    The pair continue their killing-spree (which bears similarities to Bonnie and Clyde and the Starkweather-Fugate murders), ultimately claiming 48 victims along Route 666 in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Pursuing them are two characters who see the murderers as a chance to achieve fame for themselves.

    The first is a policeman, Detective Jack Scagnetti, who seems particularly fascinated by Mallory. Scagnetti is already a well-known personality, a published author, whose book "Scagnetti on Scagnetti" is a best-seller within law enforcement. Scagnetti has a lifelong obsession with mass murderers after witnessing his mother being shot and killed by Charles Whitman in Austin, Texas when he was eight. Despite his heroic facade, he is actually sociopathic, strangling a prostitute to death in a hotel room after he tries to get too rough with her & she scratches his face.

    The second follower of the killers is journalist Wayne Gale, an Australian who hosts a show called American Maniacs, which profiles mass murderers. Various clips of Mickey and Mallory are shown, with Gale acting outraged on-screen as he details the pair's crimes, although off-air he clearly regards them as a fantastic way of increasing his show's ratings. It is Gale who is primarily responsible for elevating Mickey and Mallory to hero status, with his show featuring interviews with people around the world expressing their admiration for the killers.

    Mickey and Mallory become lost in the desert and encounter Warren Red Cloud, a Navajo Indian, and his pre-adolescent grandson. After the two fall asleep, the Navajo, hoping to expel the demon he perceives in Mickey, begins chanting beside the fire, invoking nightmares in Mickey about his abusive parents. Mickey wakes up in a rage and fatally shoots the Navajo before he realizes what he is doing. It is the first time Mallory and Mickey feel guilty for a murder. While fleeing from the scene through the desert, they stray into a field of rattlesnakes and are both bitten.

    They drive to a drugstore to find snake antivenin, but the pharmacist sets off the silent alarm before Mickey kills him. Police cars pull up. Mallory is captured immediately and is subsequently beaten by the sadistic and brutish police. A gunfight breaks out between Mickey and the others. When Scagnetti arrives, he tells Mickey that unless he surrenders he'll cut off Mallory's breasts, slashing her a few times with his knife. Mickey gives up his gun, but he attacks Scagnetti with a knife. The police use tazers on him, and the scene ends with Mickey and Mallory being beaten by a group of vengeful policemen while Scagnetti excitedly looks on.

    Part III

    The story picks up one year later. The homicidal couple have been imprisoned -- a trial is only hinted at in footage provided by Gale. The two have killed several people in prison, including inmates and guards. Mallory herself has murdered her psychiatrist. Both are due to be moved to a mental hospital after being declared insane. Scagnetti arrives at the prison and encounters Dwight McClusky, the sleazy and abusive warden of the prison. The two devise a plan to murder the two criminals: McClusky will arrange for Scagnetti to be the driver for the Knox's transfer. Alone with the pair, Scagnetti will kill them, claiming they tried to escape.

    Wayne Gale has persuaded Mickey to agree to a live interview, to air immediately after the Super Bowl. Mallory is held in solitary confinement elsewhere in the prison, awaiting her transport to the mental hospital.

    During the interview, Mickey gives a speech about how murder provides enlightenment and declares himself a "natural born killer." His words inspire the other inmates (who are watching the interview on TV in the recreation room) and incite them to riot.

    When word of the riot reaches McClusky, he orders the interview terminated over Gale's violent protests. Mickey is left alone with Gale, the TV crew and several guards. Using a lengthy joke as a diversion, Mickey overpowers a guard and grabs his shotgun and kills most of the guards and some of Gale's crew. Mickey takes the survivors hostage, leading them through the prison riot, intending to reunite with Mallory. Gale follows, excitedly giving a live television report as people are beaten and killed around him. Inmates torture and murder prisoners and guards alike.

    During the interview and outbreak of the riot, Scagnetti is in Mallory's cell, attempting to seduce her. Mallory plays along for a short time, then attacks Scagnetti violently, smashing his face against the wall and breaking his nose. The guards and Scagnetti subdue her.

    Still live on national television, Mickey bursts into Mallory's cell and engages in a brief Mexican standoff with Scagnetti, eventually feigning a concession. Mallory then approaches Scagnetti from behind and slashes his throat with a shank. Mickey then reveals that the shotgun was unloaded, much to Scagnetti's horror. Mallory picks up Scagnetti's loaded gun and kills him.

    They continue to escape through the riot-torn prison, with two guards as hostages. The remainder of Gale's TV crew are killed. Gale himself snaps and begins to shoot at the guards, claiming to be "alive for the first time in [his] life."

    After being rescued by a mysterious prisoner named Owen Traft, the trio of Mickey, Mallory and Gale run into Warden McClusky and a heavily armed posse of guards. Cavanaugh, the guard they'd taken hostage, is shot to death by McClusky's men. In retaliation, Mallory shoots Gale thru his hand & they retreat, taking cover in a blood-splattered shower room. Gale calls his wife and tells her he is leaving her. He calls his mistress to tell her he will see her later, however, she hangs up on him.

    McClusky threatens to storm the shower room. Mickey in turn, duct-tapes shotguns to the necks of Gale & a guard, Homolka, threatening to kill both on live TV. The prisoners walk out the front door. McClusky and his guards are massacred by hordes of inmates who burst into the area. They tear McClusky apart, cutting his head off and displaying it on a spike (a shot removed from the theatrical showing and seen in the director's cut only).

    After the escape, Owen is never seen or mentioned again. Mickey and Mallory steal a van and kill the last guard. Escaping to a rural location, they give a final interview to Wayne Gale before, much to his surprise and horror, they tell him he must also die. Gale futilely attempts to change their minds, finally appealing to their trademark practice of leaving one witness to tell the tale. Mickey inform hims they are leaving his camera as the witness. Gale accepts his fate and extends his arms as if crucified as they shoot him numerous times while his unattended camera continues to roll.

    The couple are shown several years later in an RV, with Mickey driving and Mallory (who is pregnant) watching their two children play.

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