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Killer Instinct Paperback – June 1, 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767900758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767900751
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,926,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

At the beginning of her tale of the making of a big Hollywood picture, Hamsher finds herself in her bathrobe with the flu and not enough money to pay the rent. She goes on to chronicle the misadventures of her life with business partner Don Murphy as they try to succeed as film producers in Hollywood shortly after graduating from the University of Southern California film school. They live on their passion for movies and lunches with people who may or, more likely, may not be able to help them advance their careers. Finally, their work pays off as they buy the script for Natural Born Killers from then unknown Quentin Tarantino and convince Oliver Stone to direct it, resulting in one of the most controversial films ever made?and a great success for the young producers. Hamsher's style is gritty and to the point, she drops names, and she is unabashedly critical of the Hollywood power players and the men's world she encounters. The reader should know a bit about the film industry before reading this volume, which ultimately would make an interesting film. For academic or public libraries with film collections.?Lisa N. Johnston, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., Va.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

This lean, mean, scabrously honest account of the making of Natural Born Killers amply proves the truism that moviemaking is a ``controlled accident.'' What goes on behind the scenes of certain movies is often a better, more involving story than what appears on-screen. Such is certainly the case with the notorious Natural Born Killers. One of Quentin Tarantino's early scripts, it was optioned by two ambitious recent film-school graduates, Hamsher and Don Murphy. The script was optioned when Tarantino was still an unknown; later, a suddenly hot Tarantino decided that he didn't want the film to be made. His substantial efforts to stop Murphy and Hamsher (including bad- mouthing the pair to studios) were trumped, however, when Oliver Stone decided that he wanted to make this his next film. And that's when things really spun out of control, including long, drug-fueled location-scouting trips, a prison riot during shooting, and innumerable back-stabbings. Stone's preferred modus operandi involves elaborate mindgames, playing his crew members off against each other--purportedly to energize their creativity. The results were predictably chaotic and venomous. Rarely has a book by a Hollywood player (albeit a minor one) been so confessional and recklessly revealing, detailing just how mean and twisted, petty and vindictive, the movie industry can be: ``The world of Hollywood . . . belonged to the cantankerous sons of bitches who were willing to risk any humiliation, broach any authority, get on the phone and scream until they got what they wanted.'' Hamsher freely burns bridges left and right, viciously (though apparently justifiably) damning Tarantino, sideswiping Stone, lambasting agents and studio execs. Forget lunch. After this book, she'll be lucky to do a snack in Hollywood. But her recklessness is our gain: This compelling look behind the curtain should help dispel forever any fond illusions about the ``magic'' of movies. (35 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 70 people found the following review helpful By "iamademonfromhell" on January 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
I give 'Killer Instinct' this much: it was a quick and entertaining read -- a fun ride. The type of book you tear right through in a night. However, I find it difficult to take seriously Jane Hamsher's account of events. I find it curious that every single woman in this book is portrayed as a sweet, strong-willed, honest-to-goodness saint, worthy of enormous sympathy -- (not least of all, Jane Hamsher herself!) -- while almost every single man (save for one writer friend of hers) is portrayed as, more or less, an utter demon (at times, almost literally.)* Even her "partner in crime," Don Murphy is shown, at times, in a critical light -- but never Iron-Willed Jane. She is the very picture of patience and professionalism, often beset upon, but rarely (if ever) in error. It's interesting that at several points, particularly on the production of NBK, it is implied that a lot of people on the set are losing patience with her and are irritated by her presence -- but unfortunately, we don't have their side of the story, and as far as Jane is concerned, it is (always!) all miraculously due to their inability to handle the fact that she's a woman. (!!!) Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt there's plenty of sexism in Hollywood, but Hamsher's account, with its suspiciously unfailing tendency to portray every single woman as a flawless, tough-hearted angel, leads me to believe that this is not just a one-sided account, but quite possibly entirely out-of-whack, the rays of truth refracted wildly through Hamsher's "feminist fairytale" vision of her own experiences.
Additionally, I find it interesting that while initially very smitten with Tarantino's ideas and scripts, that as their professional ties go south, he magically turns into a thoroughly talentless hack, milking stolen ideas for all they're worth.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
It was refreshing to read a book by Hollywood insiders that isn't afraid to be honest. Hamsher's often-scathing perspectives on big egos such as Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone was both satsfying and entertaining. Natural Born Killers wasn't a great film but this book gives you an idea of what might have been...
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Paula on December 28, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Behind the scenes dirt on the tumultuous production of "Natural Born Killers"? A post publication brawl with Quentin Tarantino? This book definately sounded too juicy to miss- and didn't disappoint! The conversational tone of the tome sucked me in completely. It read as though Jane Hamsher was plopped beside me on the couch, telling her hedonistic, bash em all account.
Wild tales about almost every film leak to the press-it's like Hamsher needed to let everyone know that all the zany anecdotes about her movie were absolutely true. The stories are so far removed from the reality of most people that the book should prove to be (at least) slightly shocking, entertaining, and laugh out loud funny for nearly every reader. What a great thing! Especially now, with QT's face popping up everywhere to promote his new movie, it's super to see him referred to as a "one trick pony". I also expected Hamsher to pansy around saying anything honest about Oliver Stone, (he hired her, which got her out of debt, helped her earn enough power to do things...like to write a tell all memoir) but it's like she deliberately tucked away every slight implication of a bad mood he (and everyone else on the set)experienced, just to tell someone else "later".
The never give up gumption that took Jane where she is now is more than inspirational, the dirt endlessly amusing, but did the mood carry an entire book? Almost. It a compelling read until the last chapter. After reading accounts of Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis's fights, the crew doing 'shrooms in the desert, Oliver Stone's many girlfriends, it's disappointing that certain truly life affecting stories that popped up are glazed over.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Peter Kahn on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It takes you on a wonderful journey from the depths of living the unrealized dream through the real nightmare of producing a big budget Hollywood film. While books like this have been written before, Killer Instinct is unique in two ways: it chronicles the making of one of the most controversial films of the 90s and the writing is fantastic. Hamsher throws all the emotions of the moment into her writing; despair, madness, anger, joy, hope and a multitude of others. Most important for me were Hamsher's conclusions at the end of the book, particularly the lesson of finding and keeping a good partner for the perils ahead. Hamsher is my hero; for her bravery, her courage of convictions, and her "never-give-up" approach in being able to make it in the "Boy's Club". Well written, fast paced, funny and inspiring, "Killer Instinct" is my solid recommendation for any aspiring producer's bookshelf.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Guido Franco on October 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
The book of Jane Hamsher relates how two inexperienced "producers" fresh out of a film school acquired the rights to "Natural Born Killers", the screenplay of an obscure aspiring filmmaker named Quentin Tarantino. It goes on describing brilliantly how this modest acquisition (10.000 $) became suddenly hot property when Tarantino hit the jackpot in Sundance with his first feature, "Reservoir Dogs". And becomes outrageously funny when it shows how agents, "passionate" directors and screenwriters are all at cut throats with each other trying to put their hands on that treasure, which (not surprisingly) Quentin Tarantino does not want to be made as a film any more. But there is no way they will let Quentin getting back his rights, because even Oliver Stone has now in mind to direct it. Yes, as the book says, "the" Oliver Stone. Thanks for the description of the antics of this "three Oscar celebrity" and how he succeeded in turning a disturbing but modest "Tarantino movie" into what most qualified a hopelessly overblown mess. But the book could have left aside the internal disputes in the production staff, which will not remain in Hollywood's hall of fame. More than anything else, it should have abstained from attacking endlessly Quentin Tarantino for being what he is, an extremely gifted screenwriter and director. (After all, why did they buy HIS screenplay in the first place?)
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