Graveyard Shift

Things ‘Natural Born Killers’ Had To Cut Just To Get To Theaters  

Jacob Shelton
6.3k views 12 items

Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers is a commentary on mass media’s glorification of violence. It follows Mickey and Mallory Knox (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) as they criss-cross the country, taking lives with reckless abandon. The initial release of the movie is an intense watch, but many scenes didn't even make the final cut. Based on the actions of two real-life criminals, the 1994 crime film underwent 155 revisions to garner an R-rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). However, in 2009, Trimark Pictures released a director’s cut of NBK with all the content Stone initially removed.

The movie's deleted scenes make the film gruesomer, but also take viewers on a wild ride.

A Longer Opening Diner Scene
A Longer Opening Diner Scene is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Things ‘Natural Born Killers’ Had To Cut Just To Get To Theaters
Photo:  Warner Bros.

NBK's opening scene sets the tone for the wildly chaotic film. Already explicit in the R-rated version, the diner scene is significantly drawn out in the director's cut. Mallory's encounter with the cowboy lasts longer, and she dishes out a viler onslaught. 

One of the diners loses a finger, and the camera lingers on the injury. The director's cut also shows a man with a knife in his back. Additionally, the producers retained most of the grim restaurant scenes in color instead of black and white, making the details more vivid. 

A Prolonged Scene Of Mallory's Father's Demise
A Prolonged Scene Of Mallory's... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Things ‘Natural Born Killers’ Had To Cut Just To Get To Theaters
Photo:  Warner Bros.

Both of Mallory's parents meet their ends at the hands of the crazed lovers in both versions of NBK. However, in the director's cut, her father, Ed (Rodney Dangerfield), ends up suffering a lot more.

After they plunge Ed's head into the fish tank, Mickey goes after the older man with a tire iron.

A More Chaotic Riot Scene
A More Chaotic Riot Scene is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Things ‘Natural Born Killers’ Had To Cut Just To Get To Theaters
Photo:  Warner Bros.

The prison scenes are lengthy, and the MPAA-approved version is already emotionally harrowing. However, Oliver Stone filled the adapted version of the riot sequence with even more violence. For example, the inmates stuff one guard into a washing machine and put another in an oven. 

Multiple people get wiped out, and one man is slain on camera in a much more jarring manner than the others. Oliver Stone recalled:

The chaos is what the ratings board had concerns about... When [they] saw [it] that was filmed with real prisoners, they got a little concerned. It [exemplified] an accumulation of madness.

A Shot Of The Warden's Head On A Stick
A Shot Of The Warden's Head On... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Things ‘Natural Born Killers’ Had To Cut Just To Get To Theaters
Photo:  Warner Bros.

In the theatrical version of the movie, Mickey, Mallory, and their captives are the only ones to walk out of the building following the prison incident. The audience can only speculate about the fates of everyone else.

However, little is left to the imagination in the director's cut. Specifically, Warden Dwight McClusky (Tommy Lee Jones) perishes quite harshly. The inmates attach his head to a stick and hoist it into the air, waving it around with wild abandon.