“Killing Strangers” is a song by American rock band Marilyn Manson from their ninth studio album, The Pale Emperor (2015). It was written and produced by the eponymous lead singer and Tyler Bates, and was first released when it appeared in Keanu Reeves’ 2014 film John Wick.
The song was inspired by the PTSD experienced by Manson’s father after his time spent serving in the US Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. The track peaked within the top ten of the Billboard Hard Rock Digital Songs. The song garnered generally positive reviews from music critics, with several publications favorably comparing the song to several of the band’s previous album openers.The song was one of the final tracks recorded for The Pale Emperor, and its composition was inspired by the PTSD exhibited by Manson’s father, Hugh Warner, after his time spent serving in the US military during the Vietnamese war.
Shortly after the death of his mother in 2014, Manson and his father spent an evening watching Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now and smoking marijuana. Hugh Warner characterized the film as “the most accurate portrayal of the Vietnam War”, and spent the evening describing events which Manson had “never heard before, in my whole childhood”. Manson had publicly discussed his father’s role in spraying Agent Orange over the Vietnamese jungle during the conflict. Hugh Warner would go on to recount how “when people talk about [PTSD], I don’t think they understand that when you’ve killed so many people and then you have to come back to a normal world, it’s very difficult to re-adjust to it”, with Manson explaining that the lyric ‘We’re killing strangers so we don’t kill the ones that we love’ “became so much about my father and my mother”.It was first released on October 24, 2014, when it was predominantly featured in the movie John Wick starring Keanu Reeves.
The song’s co-writer Tyler Bates has stated that John Wick directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch were fans of Manson’s work and they “wanted to have something [from] Manson in the movie”. An initial meeting with the films’ musical supervisor resulted in the supervisor, Reeves and the two directors being invited to Bates’ home recording studio, where they were played an unmixed version of the entire album. According to Bates, the four expressed an interest in also featuring The Pale Emperor album track “Warship My Wreck” in the film, but that “via osmosis, there wasn’t really an appropriate place for that song”.