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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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Gunfights and Films, Redux

Gunfights and Films

We all know the story of Bonnie & Clyde but in the early 90's two couples stood out as modern day versions of the infamous vintage duo. We are taking a look today at two of those tales that were written by Tarantino but not directed by him. You can take not that while there are many similarities between the two couples, the plot lines, twists and cinematography are two completely different worlds. Let's take the a look at trail of blood brought on by these two chaotic, dreamy eyed and crazed couples.

Natural Born Killers

 is a 1994 dark satire directed by Oliver Stone from an original story written by Quentin Tarantino. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis star in the film as a pair of love struck criminals whose killing spree across the United States sparks a media frenzy. The film gained controversy upon its release due to its perceived glorification of the carnage their romance left in it's wake.  The way this film was edited is in a very distinctive style, with some scenes to seeming to be gritty and  grainy, some in B&W, and others in different color filters. It was groundbreaking and stylistic and new for this era of film.

The film opens up with a our first glimpse at Mickey Knox and his wife Mallory in 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 proceed to murder 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 the couple makes sure their only survivor, a cook, remembers their names before they embrace and declare their undying love for each other.

The film frequently cuts back and forth in a non-sequential order which begins with Mickey and Mallory 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 , her neglectful mother, and her younger brother Kevin. The flashback is portrayed as a 1950s-type sitcom with a canned laughter track, the laugh track hits the  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, with Mickey stealing Mallory's father's car. Mickey is arrested and imprisoned for grand theft auto, but he subsequently escapes on a horse while on a work farm during a tornado and makes it back  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 canned audience.

Returning to Mickey and Mallory we watch as they proceed to get their version of married. They are   on the side of a bridge, cutting their palms and mixing their blood. They drive to a motel for the night. After watching television, they settle into normal marital affairs until  Mickey is distracted by their 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 end up shooting him to death for his lack of attentiveness to her needs.

As the movie continues to unfold 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 acquire fame for themselves and cash in on the media hype.

The first is a policeman, Detective Jack Scagnetti, who seems particularly fascinated by Mallory. Scagnetti is already a well-known personality, a published author and  whose book "Scagnetti on Scagnetti" is a best-seller. Scagnetti has a lifelong obsession with mass murderers after witnessing his mother shot and killed by Charles Whitman in Austin, Texas when he was eight. Despite his heroic facade, he is actually sociopathic, and at one point strangles a prostitute to death in a hotel room.

The second follower of the killers is journalist Wayne Gale. He is 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 their crimes as a fantastic way of increasing his show's ratings. He is meant to personify the Hollywood greed and reality show addiction of the early 90's.  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.

What follows is a bit like watching a cartoonish version of a bad LSD trip. 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. 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 tasers on him, and the scene ends with Mickey and Mallory being beaten by a group of vengeful policemen.

The story picks up one year later and the homicidal couple have been imprisoned for that time period. 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 murder them, then claim that they tried to escape.

Wayne Gale has persuaded Mickey to agree to a live interview, to air immediately after the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, 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 that are  watching the interview on TV in the recreation room, it's then they decide to incite a riot.

McClusky orders the interview terminated over Gale's violent protests. Mickey is left alone with Gale, the film's 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, artfully leading them through the prison riot. Gale continues to follow, thereby giving a live television report as people are beaten and killed around him.

We cut to Scagnetti in Mallory's cell. He attempts 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.

While they are still live on national television, Mickey breaks 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 then 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 he feels alive for the first time in his shallow 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.

McClusky threatens to storm the shower room. Mickey in turn threatens to kill both Gale and the guard on live TV. The prisoners walk out the front door. McCluskey and his guards are massacred by hordes of inmates who burst into the area. They proceed to tear McClusky apart, literally tearing 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 die. Gale attempts various arguments to change their minds, finally appealing to their trademark practice of leaving one witness to tell the tale. Mickey inform him they are leaving his camera as the witness. Gale accepts his fate and extends his arms as if on a cross as they execute him by shooting him numerous times while his unattended camera continues to roll.

The violent fairy tale ends with the couple several years later in an RV, with Mickey driving and a pregnant Mallory watching their two children play.

Twisted, dark and visceral Natural Born Killers has the dialogue of Tarantino but the sharp direction of Oliver Stone in a cinematic match made in Heaven. Let's take a look at a couple of the weapons used in this macabre love story.

Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) uses a Beretta 93R during the opening murders in the diner. He later uses it alongside his Wildey Hunter during the drug store shootout.

                                                                                      Beretta 93R - 9x19mm

                                              Mickey blows on the barrel of the Beretta.

To watch the opening diner scene you can watch it here:

                                    Mickey shoots the drug store clerk for tripping the alarm.

To watch the scene in the pharmacy you can watch here:

Det. Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) carries a chrome Desert Eagle, which fits his flashy personality. Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) later uses it to shoot him during the prison riot scene.

                                                                IMI Desert Eagle MK VII - .357 Magnum

                    Scagnetti holds his Desert Eagle on Mallory after she attacks him in her cell.

                                         Mallory holds Scagnetti's own Desert Eagle on him.

For more information on the array of weapons used in this film go to

Grab some popcorn and get ready for a surrealistic adventure of violence and enjoy the twisted adventures of Natural Born Killers this weekend.

True Romance

is a 1993 romantic crime film that stars Christian Slater as Clarence and Patricia Arquette as Alabama, two young lovers who decide to travel to Los Angeles to sell off a suitcase full of cocaine that they took from Alabama's drug-dealing pimp. In their journey, they are pursued by both the mob and law enforcement. The film was directed by Tony Scott from a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, the very first that he sold to Hollywood.

Comic book store clerk and film buff Clarence Worley is seen watching a Sonny Chiba triple feature at a Detroit movie theater for his birthday. Here he meets Alabama Whitman, an attractive young woman with a lot of personality. After the two have sex, she tearfully confesses that she is a call girl hired by Clarence's boss as a birthday present. She also confesses that Clarence is her first client. She quickly falls in love with Clarence and he with her.The very next day, they marry.

However, there are some loose strings to tie up, for example - Alabama's volatile pimp, Drexl Spivey. An apparition of his idol, Elvis Presley, tells him that killing Drexl will make the world a better place. Clarence decides he must get rid of Drexl for Alabama and society.  Clarence stands up to the intimidating Drexl and tells him to leave Alabama alone. Drexl assaults and subdues Clarence and takes his wallet. Clarence draws a gun and kills Drexl and a henchman. He grabs a bag that he assumes belongs to Alabama. When he tells Alabama he killed Drexl, she sobs and finds it to be the greatest act of love she's experienced.

Upon opening the suitcase, the two discover it is full of stolen cocaine. Clarence and Alabama decide to leave for California immediately. First they pay a visit to Clarence's father, Clifford Worley, a security guard and ex-cop. Clarence wants to find out if he is in the clear regarding Drexl's murder. Clifford tells him that the police assume it to be a drug-related killing.

In Los Angeles, the young couple plans to meet Clarence's old friend Dick Ritchie, an aspiring actor with ties to folks in L.A. that would purchase the drugs. Later we see that  Clifford is ambushed in his home by gangster Vincenzo Coccotti and his men, who tracked him by using Clarence's wallet. They want the drugs taken from Drexl, their underling. Clifford refuses to reveal where his son has gone. Accepting that he is going to die anyway, he insults Coccotti, who angrily shoots Clifford dead before finding a note on the fridge giving Clarence's whereabouts in L.A.

Clarence plans to use Dick's contacts with an actor named Elliot to sell the drugs to a famous film producer, Lee Donowitz. Elliot, who has some of Clarence's cocaine is stopped while speeding while having a tryst with a beautiful actress and is arrested for drug possession. Believing Clarence's story of getting the drugs from a dirty cop, he informs on Donowitz's drug deal to escape prison time. Elliot is weak and easy to manipulate into doing the cops will.

Alabama is found alone in their hotel room and interrogated by one of Coccotti's henchmen, Virgil, who viciously beats her. Alabama fights back and with luck and a corkscrew manages to kill him. She and Clarence talk of moving to Cancún with the money from the drug deal.

Knowing that Elliot's cocaine was uncut, and with Elliot "confessing" in order to avoid prison, L.A. detectives Nicholson  and Dimes conclude that a sizable drug deal is about to go down. Promising him that he can avoid prison in return for cooperation, the two detectives have Elliot wear a wire to the deal. Coccotti's men learn where the deal is going down from Dick's drugged-out roommate Floyd and they all converge on Lee Donowitz's hotel.

As a fan of his film work, Clarence makes a good impression on Lee. But shortly into this meeting they are then ambushed by both the cops and gangsters who, coincidentally, break in almost at the same time. In the middle of a Mexican standoff, Lee realizes that Elliot is an informant and berates him, throwing a hot pot of coffee on him, causing a massive shootout. Dick abandons the drugs and flees. Clarence is shot in the eye when he exits the bathroom, devastating Alabama. While Dimes kills one of Donowitz's men, Alabama  then shoots and kills Dimes ending the battle. Lee, Elliot, the police, gangsters and bodyguards are all killed.

Clarence manages to  survive but is  partially blinded. He and Alabama escape as more police swarm the hotel. The tale ends when they are shown as a happy family on a beach in Cancún, with a son they have named Elvis.

Some very famous actors played small but vital parts throughout this film but let's take a look a the other stars of the film, the weapons used.

Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) uses a snub-nose Smith & Wesson Model 66 in the first half of the film. This revolver manages to fire 7 shots when Clarence shoots it out with Drexl.

               Smith & Wesson Model 66 Snub with 2.5" barrel & Pachmayr Grips - .357 Magnum

                                     Clarence draws his Smith & Wesson revolver on Drexl.

              Clarence bursts into the hotel room where Alabama had just been assaulted.

To watch the scene with Drexl you can watch it here:

Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) packs a Smith & Wesson Model 625 revolver throughout the second half of the film, after taking it from Virgil (James Gandolfini). He uses it to intimidate Elliot (Bronson Pinchot). In the uncensored Director's Cut of the film, Alabama (Patricia Arquette) also uses it during the final shootout, after she thinks Clarence is dead.

Smith & Wesson Model 625 - .45 ACP. This is the screen used Smith & Wesson Model 625 revolver. Being a massive N-frame .45 ACP revolver, it makes all the actor's hands look small.

Virgil draws his Model 625, but Alabama sprays him with a make-shift flamethrower made from a hair spray bottle and lighter.

                              Elliot (Bronson Pinchot) is threatened with the revolver.

Alabama fires the revolver in the Director's Cut.

To watch the final shootout you can do so here:

To see what other weapons were used in this film you can go here:

True Romance is a quirky, heart warming and strange love story with catchy dialogue and a stylized flair. Grab some snacks and a couple beers and settle into some celluloid bliss this weekend.

Don't forget to check out our accessories for your next adventure here:
Black Ace's Mossberg Retrofit Kit

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Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."


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