Friday, August 19, 2016

The Killing Of America (1981) movie review

The Killing Of America (1981)

Anthology Film Archives in NYC was running a series of films in July under the umbrella title Mondo Mondo.  A Mondo film is basically a documentary, or faux documentary, that is also an exploitation film.  Here is a link to what wikipedia says :

Mondo film

This genre was made popular by the 1962 movie Mondo Cane, which was a surprise hit and yielded a Grammy nomination for the theme song More, from the Mondo Cane soundtrack.  The song was covered by Kai Winding and hit #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Many other films with the word  Mondo (Italian for world) in their titles, including Mondo Topless, Mondo Nudo, Mondo Bizarro, and even Mondo New York.  There were also tons of other movies that employed this shockumentary style over the years.

The Killing Of America is a very different type of mondo movie.  This one is a pure documentary, and while still using shock value to get its point across, the points are from real facts.  It was written by Leonard Schrader, the brother of Paul Schrader who wrote Taxi Driver, which is ironic since Taxi Driver was the movie that spurred on John Hinckley Jr. to shoot President Ronald Reagan.  Leonard Schrader also co-directed the movie, for which he received no credit. 

The Killing Of America is a documentary about the proliferation of guns in the United States, and the large amount of people shot and killed each year in the United States.  Considering this sounds like a movie they would make nowadays, the fact that it is from 1981 is astounding.  It follows the history of mass shootings in the US, plus focuses on specific incidences as well.  Some of the footage is very powerful and amazing, including the JKF footage, the Reagan footage, and many other historic events, including the girl in California that inspired the Boomtown Rats song, I Don't Like Mondays. 

While the footage is shocking, it may seem less so to many due to the fact that we can see much of this stuff online, any day of the week.  One of the things this movie does that random clips don't do for you is put the clips in their historical place, and add in statistics in the US, and in other countries as well.  Watching this, for the more logical folks, can be very sobering and depressing, knowing what we know now about how far we have come in this area.  Although gun control, gun bans, crime, and other things have gotten marginally better, we are still woefully behind many other countries, even Australia who outright banned guns in 1997. 

This was the second time I have seen this film.  The first time was a very clear digital version I saw at Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn, NYC.  This time I got to see a nice 35mm print.  I am glad I got to see it both ways, it gives you a much better overview of how the technical side of movies work. 

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who has any interest int he darker side of crime and guns in the US and elsewhere.  Seeing the things that unfold on the screen are pretty amazing, even to someone who can see all these types of things every day on the web.  One of the best I have seen in this mondo series. 

Just so you know, at this moment the whole movie is on youtube.

8 out of 10 stars.

Location : Anthology Film Archives, downstairs theater, NYC
Date and time : Friday July 29th, 2016 at 7:15 PM
Format : 35mm print
Audience : about 30 people