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Natural Born Killers (Collector’s Edition) (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

Two psychopathic lovers go on a killing spree together and are turned into heroic figures by the mass media.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Natural Born Killers is co-writer/director Oliver Stone’s frenetic, violent, and controversial film criticizing mass media. Taken from a story by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), the film follows two psychologically broken people from dysfunctional and abusive families, Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis). The young couple become entwined by their passion for each other and for violence. When Mickey, fresh from a prison break, rescues Mallory from her abusive parents (check out comedian Rodney Dangerfield as Mallory’s creepy dad) and helps her kill her parents, the two hit the road in a Bonny and Clyde-styled murdering spree. Detective Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) – who likes to pick up prostitutes and choke them during sex – is hot on their trail. Meanwhile, the mass media turn Mallory and Mickey into cultural icons, blasting their images all over the world and making them heroes for the younger generations. A reporter, Wayne Gale (Robert Downey, Jr.), uses their story to his own advantage, following their every misdeed and organizing a big Super Bowl interview.

Stone’s film is so chaotic — flashing between differing formats, black and white imagery, 16mm, 35mm, rear projection visual effects, and animated sequences – that it is difficult to know what exactly to concentrate on and that may be the point. He is simultaneously critiquing the mass media (such as flashing “too much TV” across Mallory and Mickey’s bodies) while purposely overusing all the glitzy, MTV-era tricks and stylizations they use to dress up their coverage, television shows, and even mass murderers.

Natural Born Killers ran afoul of many critics and viewers, some who thought it was glorifying the very mass murderers Stone was critiquing the mass media for doing. It also had to go through several rounds of edits just to get an R rating from the MPAA. The Director’s Cut (included in this release) has not such restraints and is in fact the superior version even if it only clocks in around three minutes longer.

  • Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Natural Born Killers 4K Ultra HD Combo (Shout! Factory)
  • Natural Born Killers 4K Ultra HD Combo (Shout! Factory)
  • Natural Born Killers 4K Ultra HD Combo (Shout! Factory)
  • Natural Born Killers 4K Ultra HD Combo (Shout! Factory)

The Video

Shout! Factory brings the Natural Born Killers Director’s Cut to 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray from a new director-approved 4K scan of the original camera negative. Their website lists the Theatrical Cut Blu-ray as also being from a new 4K scan but the disc’s packaging does not list this disc as being a new scan, and it does not look like an upgrade versus the Director’s Cut.

That said, the 4K disc for the Director’s Cut is provided in 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision with HDR10 metadata showing a MaxLL of 841 nits and MaxFALL of 462 nits. The film was shot on multiple formats including 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, and even video. This makes it very inconsistent in overall picture quality. Inherently, the video segments show a lot of noise and stairstepping, the 16mm segments are very grainy with coarse granularity. There are low contrast black and white segments and segments with vibrant colors. Overall picture quality, especially in the 35mm segments, is not really hampered by the transfer, but the Dolby Vision grading provides the biggest boost, imparting vibrant colors, neon ‘pop’ in the pharmacy sequences and the color-filtered scenes that are awash in lime green and so forth. There is an obvious but small upgrade in the high frequency information and resolution of grain and color vibrancy from the Theatrical Cut Blu-ray to the Director’s Cut Blu-ray as well.

The Audio

The lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix for Natural Born Killers is well presented here with good ambience, atmospherics, extension into the lower frequencies, and balance. It fits in with the sound of the films from the era, not sounding like a mix from today, but satisfying, clear, and dynamic.

The Supplements

All the new bonus features in this collection are on the Director’s Cut Blu-ray, which are four new interviews with the crew. The Oliver Stone audio commentary is included as well, and he does offer lots of information, but he is very low key.

Director’s Cut 4K Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Director/Co-writer Oliver Stone

Director’s Cut Blu-ray Bonus Features:

  • On Dawn’s Highway Bleeding (1080p; 00:12:04) — Editor Hank Corwin on Natural Born Killers
  • The Scream of the Butterfly (1080p; 00:11:50) – Producer Clayton Townsend on Natural Born Killers
  • A Bloody Pail of Nitro (1080p; 00:11:14) – Special Makeup Effects Artist Gordon J. Smith on Natural Born Killers
  • Wilderness of Pain (1080p; 00:24:13) – Cinematographer Robert Richardson on Natural Born Killers

Theatrical Cut Blu-ray Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Director/Co-writer Oliver Stone
  • Natural Born Killers: Method in the Madness (1080p; 00:15:47)
  • NBK Evolution: How Would It All Go Down Now? Documentary (1080i; 00:22:00)
  • Chaos Rising: The Storm Around Natural Born Killers Documentary (1080i; 00:26:30)
  • Deleted Scenes (1080i; 00:20:49)
  • Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Oliver Stone (1080i; 00:24:09)
  • Alternate Ending with Introduction by Oliver Stone (1080i; 00:04:54)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080i; 00:01:47)

The Final Assessment

Natural Born Killers is a film full of style, violence, and socio-political commentary. This is a film that many either love or hate. I’m one of the rare people who is in the middle, there are parts of it I love, parts I could do without, and I do not exactly consider it Stone’s best, but certainly not his worst. This 4K Ultra HD restoration of the Director’s Cut from Shout! Factory is definitely an upgrade and the definitive version.


Natural Born Killers (Collector’s Edition) is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo September 26, 2023, from Shout! Factory.


  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated (Director’s Cut) | R (for extreme violence and graphic carnage, for shocking images, and for strong language and sexuality) (Theatrical Cut)
  • Studios & Distributors: Warner Bros. | New Regency Productions | Alcor Films | Ixtlan | J D Productions | Warner Bros. | Shout! Factory
  • Director: Oliver Stone
  • Written By: Quentin Tarantino (story) | David Veloz (screenplay) | Richard Rutowski (screenplay) | Oliver Stone (screenplay)
  • Run Time: 122 Mins. (Director’s Cut) | 119 Mins. (Theatrical Cut)
  • Street Date: 26 September 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 841 nits
    • MaxFALL: 462 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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Two psychopathic lovers go on a killing spree together and are turned into heroic figures by the mass media. Natural Born Killers (Collector's Edition) (4K UHD Review)