The Killing of America is a ‘shockdoc’ released in 1982 made to highlight the decline of the United States. It never really saw a release in America, I get the feeling it was shunned under the carpet like a dirty secret. It was however released in the UK on VHS and more recently a 2013 North American release.
From what I could tell the footage does follow a chronological order, from the assassination of JFK to prolific killers - Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Charles Whitman, Ed Kemper to name a few. There are also events that I have never witnessed in there also which are just as shocking to watch.
Although the narration is very clear and informative for the events that are being shown there is little content there to class this as a documentary, simply because it doesn’t delve into the meat and bones of the topic, it plays out more like a chronological list of horrific events than an in depth documentary.
You certainly need to have a think before watching this film, IF you actually want to and can indeed stomach the violence. These are REAL killings shown in raw form, there’s no avoiding it, there is footage of police reports, news articles and archived footage that show in great detail these horrific events. The footage will undoubtedly stay with you for a while.
The Killing of America really does highlight quite a strong message, that although we have been given the gift of life there are individuals out there that feel they have the power to make the decision of who can live and who can’t.
Now, (although dependant on the source) it would seem that gun violence in the states has declined massively since its peak in the 80’s, personally I think the truth is more bitter sweet, yes gun deaths have decreased massively but compared to other countries this is by no means a positive. A study carried out in 2010 showed that Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by a gun than people in other developed countries. Saying that gun laws do not coincide with the gun deaths is ignorance at its finest, don’t get me wrong I don’t think everyone that owns a gun is a threat (or a gun nut for that matter) but the laws are certainly playing a huge role. From my experience in the states I don’t agree with the fact that you can go to a mall, buy a t-shirt from Calvin Klein, then go next door and walk out with a rifle and ammo to boot, it’s a completely alien concept to me especially coming from the UK.
The film ends on a very sombre mood, John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ is played along with footage from his memorial and without sounding too profound really makes you think, not only about what you have witnessed but just how as a race we have become rather destructive.
It’s quite challenging to critique The Killing of America without sounding a tad sadistic at least, in terms of footage it is an immensely interesting archive of tragic events that have happened since the 80’s, which bears the question is do I recommend watching it? Absolutely, you need a strong stomach but the footage here should never be forgotten, the heinous acts that these sick people have carried out is unfortunately all part of history no matter how dark it may seem.
A mention must be made about the quality, if you have tried to watch The Killing of America before now you have probably stumbled upon some form of bootleg or VHS rip, with almost unwatchable quality, not to be seen here at all! Considering the age of some of the footage, a great job has been done at cleaning it up and presenting it in this format.