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The Honeymoon Killers (The Criterion Collection) (1970)

Shirley Stoler , Tony Lo Bianco , Donald Volkman , Leonard Kastle  |  R |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Shirley Stoler, Tony Lo Bianco, Mary Jane Higby, Doris Roberts, Kip McArdle
  • Directors: Donald Volkman, Leonard Kastle
  • Writers: Leonard Kastle
  • Producers: Paul Asselin, Warren Steibel
  • Format: Anamorphic, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2003
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009MEA3
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,071 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Honeymoon Killers (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New high-definition transfer
  • Interview with writer/director Leonard Kastle
  • Illustrated essay by Scott Christianson on the true crime story of "Lonely Hearts Killers" Ray Fernandez and Martha Beck
  • New essay by critic Gary Giddens

Editorial Reviews

There's Bonnie and Clyde--then there's Martha and Ray. One-shot writer-director Leonard Kastle set out to make a film about lover-murderers that was everything Arthur Penn's movie was not. He succeeded. Consequently, The Honeymoon Killers, based on the Lonely Hearts Killers case of 1949, may be too lurid for some. But there's a heart beating inside its (tawdry) chest and Kastle clearly cared about these two crazy, mixed-up kids who should never have met. But met Martha (Shirley Stoler) and Ray (Tony LoBianco) did and proceeded to fleece several widows before doing them in. The film isn't graphic in its violence, but each murder is increasingly disturbing. Dramatic lighting and dark passages from Mahler keep the mood close and clammy throughout. Keep an eye out for Everybody Loves Raymond's Doris Roberts in a sharp cameo--and for shots directed by original helmer Martin Scorsese (fired for working too slowly). --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Product Description

Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) is sullen, overweight and heartbreakingly alone. Desperate for affection, she joins Aunt Carrie’s Friendship Club and strikes up a correspondence with Ray Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco), a suave, charismatic smooth talker who could be the man of her dreams—or a wicked con artist bound for trouble. Based on a true story and filmed in documentary-style black and white, The Honeymoon Killers is a stark portrayal of the desperate lengths a lonely heart will go to find true love, from brutally immoral killings to a passion that transcends all bounds.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "DEAR MARTHA"... July 30, 2003
The true story of Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck is sad and depressing. Their arrests, trial and subsequent executions are vividly described through actual newspaper clips and photos in one of the extras on this remarkable DVD. The film itself is a striking b&w drama detailing their exploits as the "Lonely Hearts" killers. They met through a "friendship" club advertised in a sleazy tabloid and embarked on their grisly journey through several states using the same club as their stalking point. Fernandez, a Latin lover type gigolo/con-man, had originally planned to fleece Martha but decided her career as a registered nurse wouldn't yield much profit. Yet Martha went after him instead. She was single, overweight, depressed and felt she had nothing to lose. Plus she was smitten with him. At first, she just got in Fernandez's way. But she soon proved a valuable asset and they became a team posing as brother and sister as they stalked and fleeced needy single women while Fernandez worked his smarmy charms on them. How many women they killed is not actually known but the film depicts three and one's small daughter. Shirley Stoler is chilling (and sad) as Martha, hopelessly and jealously devoted to Fernandez. But Tony Lo Bianco is utterly fantastic as Ray Fernandez right down to the accent and snaky charm. Together, Stoler's and Lo Bianco's on-screen chemistry is totally believable. The photography is stark and low budget giving the story the seedy and creepy feel it needs. One of the murders is depicted so well it seems real. The music is several selections from the work of Gustav Mahler and is disturbingly appropriate. As for the DVD itself, the print is flawless and crisp but the sound is frustrating at times. I kept wanting to turn it up at points. Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STOP READING AND BUY THIS NOW!!! July 19, 2007
This is turning into one of my favorite movies ever. It is so rich, dark and complex, genuinely shocking and disturbing, well written, well photographed, well acted... I just can't say enough good things about it.

This is also one of those movies that I think it is better to know as little as possible about before seeing it, so if I were you, I would turn the Internet off and go buy it right now. But since I know that if you don't know anything about it, you have no reason to buy it, I will tell you that it is a true crime drama that concerns a very perverse relationship, the bilking of innocents, and elements of very black humor. Okay, stop reading now and go buy it. I'm really serious, you NEED to see this.

I have watched this movie four times now, and it just keeps getting richer each time. Though it may not always seem like it, every single element is in place and the script and direction are as tight as they can possibly be. The remarkable thing about this movie is how the characters--ALL the characters, not just the main ones--are so richly delineated, and yet at the center of the film some puzzling ambiguities remain. What is it that Ray really sees in Martha? Is it that she says she'll kill herself for him? Or does he simply think he can make more money with an accomplice? And why doesn't Martha realize that what he's doing to all these other women is also happening to HER? How many times can she hear that he'll marry her after their next job?

There are scenes that stand out for their content, and scenes that stand out for their technique. Among the former are the scenes with Bunny [Doris Roberts, who later went on to be Ray's mother on Everybody Loves Raymond], who one could argue is responsible for the entire situation.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Manipulative affection in drama-documentary... January 28, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Honeymoon killers is based on the true events that took place during the late 40s when a heavy nurse, Martha Beck begins to exchange letters with the sly and manipulative Raymond Fernandez who she met through an add in a Lonely Hearts club. Raymond uses the club to con lonely women, but it turns out that Raymond and Martha have something in common. Together the two begin to pick victims and steal women's savings, which eventually leads to murder. Honeymoon Killers is a monstrous story that reveals the dark nature of Martha's passion for Raymond as they tour east USA leaving a trail of corpses. Yet, it is a sad story as Martha is incapable of recognizing their failing love as she desires the need to feel loved by Raymond. Honeymoon Killers is a black and white drama-documentary that leaves the audience with a good, yet mind numbing cinematic experience.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally.... August 15, 2003
For years I had to watch a pan and scan video of this dark, sad movie. Now Criterion has released an enhanced widescreen DVD which is like a Holy Grail for lovers of this underground cult classic. This film makes the list of classic murderous, hetro couples genre along with BONNIE AND CLYDE, BADLANDS, THE GETAWAY and GUN CARZY. Ray Fernandez is a hot looking Latin stud; he fleeces lonley women who respond to his ad in the type of Lonely Hearts correspondence club found in the back pages of seedy magzines. He only takes their money and their hearts until he hooks up with a fat, miserable nurse named Martha. While pretending to be brother and sister, they go on a murderous spree as they hook up with spinsters, widows and an ugly assortment of women who look for love in the wrong place. Although there is only two scenes of actual violence, this is one of the most violent movies I have ever seen due to the ruthlessness, and cold blooded greed of Ray and Martha. It's dark, violent, and extremely brutal; not recommended for the squeamish.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Iconic Cult Classic Still Holds it Own - 40 Years Later
One of my favorite films of all time. This engaging dark indy was initially released as an exploitation film and marketed as such. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Peter Suslock
3.0 out of 5 stars "Leave the light on. I want to make love."
Based on a notorious 1940s murder case, the 1969 THE HONEYMOON KILLERS has an aesthetic that can only be described as a cross between William Castle, Ed Wood, and John Waters, with... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Gary F. Taylor
The Honeymoon Killers is a cult classic that will remain a cult classic for years to come. The filming is crude & amateurish, and so is the acting. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nelson E. Donley
3.0 out of 5 stars Keys parts left out
The movie is based on the truth of what happened all but the home town of Martha Beck and a few incidentals left out for one reason or the other. Read more
Published 6 months ago by gggram03
5.0 out of 5 stars A good bad movie? A bad good movie?
The Honeymoon Killers, in black and white, first caught my attention when I noticed it on cable. It seems at first viewing, like a bad B movie; the acting hammy and the props... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Tamara A. Shaffer
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Camp Classic
I love this movie, Shirley Stoler should have had a huge career as a character actress, because she IS the movie. Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hidden Gem
I caught The Honeymoon Killers one night on television (presumably on IFC as I've never seen this aired on any other channel), and was pleasantly surprised by it. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jungle Red
5.0 out of 5 stars A Shirley Stoler Cult Classic on Criterion!
This movie is just fantastic and has gained a big cult following over the years. Filmed in black and white, it only add's to this classic film! Read more
Published on December 7, 2011 by Barbara Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars compelling
The casting and characterisation of Stoler and Lo Bianco work convincingly because the sexual chemistry on screen is wholly believable. Read more
Published on April 7, 2011 by .fgd
Cult curio that, by the end, you will probably dislike and not want to watch again anytime soon. Apparent true story of Lonely Hearts con-man who corresponds with lonely... Read more
Published on March 6, 2011 by FRED C. DOBBS
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