Killing of America title

 AKA: Violence USA

Tag Line: The film the American authorities DON'T want you to see.

Killing of AmericaNot actually a horror film, "Killing of America" is in fact a very well made, if not rather disturbing, documentary about America's gun culture and the escalating violence ensuing in the land of the free. Using news reports, documentary footage and even specially recorded interviews, this 1982 film shows us how 'America the Beautiful' has turned into 'America the Violent' and wastes no time in shocking the viewer.

Opening with a police shootout in which a gunman is shot dead in the middle of a busy high street,  the narrator cheerfully tells us how that "In America there's an attempted murder every 3 mins, a murder victim every 20 mins, 27,000 murders a year and the number is growing...." before moving onto the assassination of President John F Kennedy then looking at every other infamous violent crime that has rocked the good old U S of A over the years.

From the race riots of the 50's, to the shooting of John Lennon, and the everyday gun violence faced by the police, the film covers a broad spectrum of their societies ills, and pulls no punches  with its subject matter. Showing news reports of various police sieges and assassination attempts and even  CCTV pictures of armed robberies as well as presenting interviews with the likes of Sirahn Sirahn (Bobby Kennedy's killer) serial killer Ed Kemper and good old Charlie Manson.

There's footage of the death of Martin Luther King, Texan bell tower sniper Charles Whitmore and some rather amusing scenes from the trial of Ted Bundy, in which he conducted his own defence. Although perhaps the films most memorable moment is a 3 minute scene showing the civil unrest that broke out across America's following it's participation in the Vietnam war, which is set to the tune of Buffalo Springfield's "For what it's worth".

The films main strength is that inspite of its grim subject matter its presented in a factual, and non-exploitive manner, which sets it apart from the likes of the "Faces of Death" films which were done solely to repulse the viewer. Needless to say, the film has lost none of it's impact over the years, although my only minor criticism would be that  it doesn't try to explain WHY things are as bad as they are, but never-the-less remains just as poignant today is it did then. Showing us how the American dream has gone dreadfully wrong.

Overall Marks 8/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • The film has never been officially released or publicly shown in America.

  • The films producers originally made this for the Japanese market, where films about death and destruction were doing big business at the time. However they decided to keep the film factual and not exploitive, which as I said in my review, actually works in its favour.

  • Producer Leonard Schrader also scripted the 1985 drama "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and is currently a scriptwriting teacher at the American Film Institute. He is also the brother of Director/Writer Paul Schrader, who wrote "Raging Bull" and "Taxi Driver".

  • The Buffalo Springfield Song "For What it's Worth", which plays over the scenes of the anti-Vietnam demos, was actually written about the heavy handedness of the police and government officials towards the people in these protest marches and is frequently used in films about the Vietnam war.

  • The producers got the idea for the film after reading a news article that the annual rate of murders in America had remained about the same up until the assassination of President Kennedy, but had steadily risen each year since.

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