‘The Honeymoon Killers’ Is a Freak of Cinema That You Will Never Forget

October 9, 2015 - accent chair

cover art

Director: Leonard Kastle
Cast: Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco

US theatrical: 29 Sep 2015

Amazon iTunes

The Honeymoon Killers is a weird of cinema that offers a propitious viewers an knowledge as weird as a real-life story that it is formed on and a making-of-story that put it on a large screen. 

Released in 1969, a film recreates a disfigured story of Martha Beck and Ray Fernandez, lovers posing as siblings, who placed lonely-heart advertisements in newspapers during a late ‘40s and afterwards seduced, conned, and eventually murdered those unfortunate women who responded. It was constructed by Warren Steibel, a first-time producer, destined and created by Leonard Kastle, a first-time wrier/director, and it stars Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco, conjunction of whom had ever acted in front of a camera before.

Like we said, The Honeymoon Killers is a weird film, and a existence is a film spectacle that defies both a entrepreneur complement and common sense. But Americans have always desired their freaks, generally a singular ones that consolidate this country’s renegade sensibilities, so it’s no warn that a film has, in a 46 years given a release, turn a summary of a cult classic.

This many new book from a Criterion Collection creates a standing as a undying work of pleasing though nauseous art that many clearer. Besides a 4k replacement with a remastered monaural soundtrack that removes a clicks, thumps, hisses, hums, and crackles of a original, this edition, with a selected lonely-heart newsprint ads on a cover, includes an talk with Kastle from 2003, along with an installment of Robert Fischer’s talk program, Love Letters, that facilities actors Bianco and Marilyn Chris (who plays one of a some-more noted victims). There are also dual essays of critique included: a video letter by Scott Christianson and a printed letter by Gary Giddins.

Giddins writes, “It’s a film that taunts we for carrying a good time”, and we can’t consider of a improved approach to report how we felt examination The Honeymoon Killers. Kastle puts we in a front quarrel chair on a insane rollercoaster float alongside a demented characters of Martha and Ray that is during once stirring and terrifying. Every spirited high is followed by a offensive low, and as unfortunate as a duo’s decisions and actions are, there’s a certain proof and attract to them that creates we beholden for a event to take a float with such charming sociopaths.

Kastle’s delicately crafted screenplay, that unfolds right along with a dignified and mental statuses of Martha and Ray, who we will concurrently base for and against, is obliged for a complexity of what during initial comes off as a elementary story told in a elementary way. By sketch on a eccentricities of Martha and Ray—such as Martha’s weight issues and Ray’s aroused narcissism—Kastle manages to insert a humorous frolic into this ruthless story that creates some of a some-more heartless scenes bearable. 

Stoler’s Martha cooking with orgasmic propensity via a whole film. Her eating seems to yield an shun from, during first, her waste life as a helper vital with her mother, afterwards from a envy she, as a fiancee to a womanizing conman, contingency understanding with and, finally, from a fulfilment that she, by brutally murdering women (and eventually a child), is vital a cursed life. When we see her holding so many pleasure in something as healthy as food between scenes of her behaving a many assumed of aroused acts, we gamble we will laugh, even if it’s a shaken laugh, since this juncture highlights a hilariously lunatic mental and romantic state of Martha—the Martha who, in real-life, was some-more endangered with a fact that a newspapers described her as weighing 200 instead of 185 pounds, than a probability of her removing a electric chair (which happened in 1951).

Bianco’s Ray is usually as delusional as Martha, and his delusional function is usually as darkly funny. He thinks of himself as a Don Juan, a sharp seducer who can woo any lady in a world, though in existence he and his decrease hairline usually hardly conduct to win over a waste hearts of usually a many unfortunate women. While his incessant smile and flirtatious tinge advise that he knows he’s funny—and a giggles of his victims confirms it for him—he’s unequivocally usually humorous since of his pitiable behavior. Whether it’s a overemphasis he places on his Spanish accent or his attempts during carrying himself with a beauty of a Salsa dancer, Ray’s cringe-worthy attempts during being charismatic will make we laugh. It competence be in disgust, though laugh, we will.

Make no mistake about it, however, this humorous lightness, that Kastle writes into his book and Stoler and Bianco successfully move to their characters, doesn’t make The Honeymoon Killers a comedy. It’s anything but. Actually, it’s one of a darkest, many unfortunate films I’ve ever seen. This unfortunate dark is due to, besides a astonishing moments of violence, a low-budget, a naturalistic black and white (given Kastle’s miss of knowledge behind a camera, we give full credit here to a cinematographer Oliver Wood), a documentary styled insinuate shots, a minimalist set designs, a echoey audio recording, and a no-name actors.

In fact, many of a expel was apparently plucked from a communities in that a film was shot. For example, a city of Pittsfield, Massachusettes, that happens to be my birthplace, was a plcae of what I’d disagree is a many important, memorable, and best shot method in a film: a one in that Martha spots Ray fondling one of their lonely-heart targets and screams, “You promised!” before attempting to drown herself in Onota Lake. This shot happened to be destined by a immature Martin Scorsese before Steibel a writer dismissed him for filming too solemnly and eating adult a tiny budget, and it also happened to be filmed usually a brief travel from my grandparent’s house.

I, therefore, occur to know that many of a smaller roles in The Honeymoon Killers were filled by locals with no education other than carrying a day off work. My dad, who was a teen during a time of a filming, worked during a hardware store with a man who plays a train driver. It’s a train motorist who discovers a initial murdered lady in a film, a one unperceiving by Martha and left for passed by Ray on a train headed out-of-state.

This hardware store worker personification a train motorist gets a pursuit done. It usually shows his form and all he says is, “Oh my God, she’s dead!” But, like all a extras in a film, we can tell he’s not an actor. He’s usually a guy. It’s this realness that pulsates by each component of The Honeymoon Killers that, in a end, creates it so damn frightening, captivating, and unforgettable. It’s this realness that creates it a fanciful weird of cinema.

The Honeymoon Killers


Christopher Forsley lives on a corner of San Francisco. He writes film criticism, comics, and a occasional humorous essay. In further to PopMatters, his work as seemed in VICE, The Rumpus, Film Monthly, The Daily Caller, and SF Weekly. He wrote a Forsley Feuilleton mainstay during PANK, Last Gasp distributes a few of his books, and PORK carries a Dirty Klown comic frame he creates with Cameron Forsley, his hermit and illustrator. You can find some-more of his work during www.ChristopherForsley.pressfolios.com and www.TheForsleyBrothers.com

More chair ...

› tags: accent chair /