Review: The Killing of America
Blu-ray: The Killing of America (1981)
Often (and unfairly) compared with the Faces of Death series of movies, The Killing of America is a somber look at how the American populace have been subjected to various killers and killings throughout the 1960’s, 70’s and up to its release in 1981. As relevant now (if not more so) as it was back in 1981, The Killing of America uses news footage and personally filmed events to document the fragility of life and how it can be ended at any moment. Not afraid to shy away from what is occurring before the camera lens, this documentary is not for the fainthearted or those with a nervous disposition.
I first watched The Killing of America back in the mid 1980’s on a grainy VHS copy, so this new Blu-ray release from Severin Films was like watching it again for the very first time. Featuring interviews with the police, coroners, and even the murderers themselves, this features scenes which show just how detached and callous the human race can be to itself. Names such as Ted Bundy and Charles Manson may already be familiar to you, and both of these appear in this documentary alongside many more both well known and lesser so. High profile assassinations on John F Kennedy, his brother Robert and John Lennon are also covered, while the senseless killing of innocent parents and children in their homes reminds you that nobody is really safe, no matter where you are.
Without becoming too political, The Killing of America re-enforced to me that no matter what gun laws are in place throughout the world, the human race will continue to kill itself. Some people are just either pre-disposed to kill, or societal pressures tip them mentally over the edge and will kill with whatever is at hand; guns, knives, hammers, drills…even something as innocent as a pencil can become a lethal weapon in the wrong hands.
Directors Sheldon Renan and Leonard Schrader (uncredited) keep the narrative flowing as it moves from serial killers, to assassinations, to random acts of violence, all narrated in a deadpan style by Chuck Riley. The camera doesn’t shy away from anything before it, but your eyes may flick away from the screen on the odd occasion as the close-up aftermath of a man (literally) shooting his brains out appears onscreen. Needless to say, this is not a movie to watch with the family while eating dinner.
Though not an impartial representation of what was happening in America during the 60’s and 70’s, The Killing of America gives an unflinching look at what was happening on the streets and in the homes on a far too regular basis for what society would like. This documentary is a harrowing warning that we are not invincible and our time on this big blue marble could be ended abruptly at any moment. Not for the squeamish, but riveting viewing none the less, this release by Severin Films is a superb package and an essential purchase.
- English Language Version New 2k Scan From Original Negative (95 mins.)
- Japanese Language Version New 2k Scan From Original Negative (115 mins.) (Blu-Ray Exclusive!)
- Audio commentary with director Sheldon Renan
- Interview with director Sheldon Renan
- Interview with editor Lee Percy
- Interview With Mondo Movie historian Nick Pinkerton
The Killing of America will be available to buy on 31st October 2016.
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Severin Films.