Friday 7 October 2016

The Killing of America - UK BD review

Leonard Shrader and Sheldon Renan’s highly controversial 1982 documentary about America’s gun culture “The Killing of America” makes its Blu-Ray debut here in the UK this month courtesy of Severin films.

Opening with a shocking scene of 2 policemen gunning down an armed man in the middle of a busy high street, we’re cheerfully informed about how 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....".

Using news reports, documentary footage, CCTV pictures as well as specially recorded interviews, the film certainly pulls no punches in showing pretty much every violent crime that has rocked the good old USA over the years.

The assassination of John F Kennedy and the shooting of Ronald Reagan are examined, along with, the race riots of the 50's, the shooting of John Lennon, and the everyday gun violence faced by the police, as the film covers a broad spectrum of American society’s ills.

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. As well as some rather chilling interviews with the likes of Sirahn Sirahn (Bobby Kennedy's killer) serial killer Ed Kemper and good old Charlie Manson.

Although perhaps the films most memorable scene is a 3 minute sequence showing the civil unrest that broke out across America, following it's participation in the Vietnam war, set to the tune of Buffalo Springfield's "For what it's worth".

The film’s main strength is that inspite of its grim subject matter it’s 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.

To date, the film has NEVER before been released in the US and aside from a UK VHS release in the 1990s and a long out of print Australian DVD has been extremely hard to get hold of. So this Blu-Ray is certainly a very welcome addition to Severin’s catalogue.

Presented in it’s originally released Full Screen (4:3) Aspect Ratio, the film boasts a new 2K scan from the original negatives. Extras wise, the disc contains the following…

Extended Japanese Language Version (New 2k Scan From Original Negatives)
Audio commentary with director Sheldon Renan
Interview with director Sheldon Renan
Interview with editor Lee Percy
Interview With Mondo Movie historian Nick Pinkerton

It’s certainly true to say that the film has lost none of its impact over the years, though doesn't really 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.

As well as a UK release, the film will also be getting a release in America for the first time since being filmed some 35 years ago.

The film is released to UK disc Oct 24, with a US release on the 25th.

View the TRAILER (MP4 format) 

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