The Poster Gallery is a series of articles where we celebrate various works of poster and cover art for movies, whether beautiful or daft, there is a home for many a poster in our gallery.
Today we look at the cover of Natural Born Killers a deceptive yet disturbing approach for cover design, understandable considering the movie. Natural Born Killers is a devilish film exploring the insanity of two damaged lovers and a scathing critique of the media press that put the spotlight on them.
As a kid I never watched Natural Born Killers but I was exposed to a variety of different movies of whatever age rating. I remember being terrified by The Evil Dead, I watched the Terminator films as early as 5-6 years old (I’m not sure exactly the time or age). So I was quickly being introduced to lots of fantastic films even though it probably wasn’t appropriate for me, but I have zero regrets about watching these films. It’s only made these films feel more timeless, however Natural Born Killers was the movie I didn’t want to go near.
I recall stepping into the bigger two story Blockbusters (yes, way back), the one that seemed to be ages away at least for a kid but in actuality was about half an hour drive. Mum took me to rent something and we wanted a wider selection.
The many times we went, I would notice the VHS for Natural Born Killers. Sometimes I would creep up to it in morbid curiosity, sometimes I would pace past it glancing away from it. All it is, is a headshot of the lead actor Woody Harrelson with the crude font of the film title just below his chin. But it’s the way Woody stares into you, through those red tinted Lennon glasses, searching for something in me. The kind of look that sent shivers down my arms and back, it’s a truly terrifying cover.
The title wants to trick you into thinking the movie is something sillier, possibly cartoony, the yellow colouring and exaggerated font. Which makes light of the film’s true nature, it’s the juxtaposition of that silly yellow title against the stark black and white image of Woody’s character whose only colour shines off his glasses with his lovers reflection on them. I remember at first feeling curious about the film, and then I would spot the 18 age certificate, “I know what that means!” I thought, it meant to even touching the case was intruding on some sort of taboo, I might be doing something dangerous. And it made the film dangerous, it didn’t matter that I had seen a bunch of other horror and gore pics, this was different!
Even at that young age I was correct. Eventually I got to see Natural Born Killers in its entirety, with subsequent directors cut editions of the film being made available. That first viewing which took place in my late teens was a harrowing experience, even after the myriad of horror, gore films that I watched loving, even after getting over The Evil Dead and loving it, Natural Born Killers broke me. Yet I kept coming back for more, watching it another time, two times, it’s one of my favourite movie experiences, one I have to put myself in the mood for to prepare for the powerful, clever, bloody and visceral experience director Oliver Stone provided.