In 1959, a lot of people were killing time. Kit & Holly were killing people.
In 1959, a lot of people were killing time. Kit & Holly were killing people.
D: Terrence Malick
Warner Bros./Pressman Williams (Terrence Malick)
USA 🇺🇸 1973
94 mins


W: Terrence Malick
DP: Bryan Probyn, Tak Fujimoto & Steven Larner
Ed: Robert Estrin
Mus: George Tipton & James Taylor
PD: Jack Fisk

Martin Sheen (Kit), Sissy Spacek (Holly), Warren Oates (Father)

One of the best directorial debuts comes from Terrence Malick, who only made a couple of films in the 1970's before a 20 year gap before directing his next feature (The Thin Red Line).
This is clearly inspired by Charles Starkweather-Carole Fugate homicides, which took place across similar American regions in the late 1950's. Kit & Holly are two teenagers in love who go on a killing spree after Kit kills Holly's abusive, violent father.
The movie amassed a cult following as a thriller, but it's also a social commentary about aimless anger being the psychopathic killer's only way of means to connect with the world around them.
Badlands itself was clearly a huge inspiration to the 1994 movie Natural Born Killers (qv). Personally, I think this is better, but I'm a movie snob.

Did You Know:
The film's tag line ("In 1959 a lot of people were killing time. Kit and Holly were killing people") inspired the Zodiac Killer (a serial murderer active in the late 1960's-early 1970's whose identity is still unknown), who had been lying low for years, to write a letter to a newspaper denouncing their flippant attitude to violence in society by running such an ad.