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The Honeymoon Killers (The Criterion Collection)

4.3 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Leonard Kastle's cult thriller about a pair of murderers known as "the Lonely Hearts Killers." Based on a true story, the tale of duplicity, jealousy and twisted love stars Tony Lo Bianco and Shirley Stoler in iconic performances. Includes a new interview with the director and an illustrated essay on the true crime story.


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

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

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: Multiple Formats, 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:
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2003
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009MEA3
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,844 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Honeymoon Killers (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Norvell on July 30, 2003
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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 women---targeting widows, divorcees and losers---marries them, rips them off, then dispatches them. The bum is played by Tony Lobianco [The Seven-Ups, 1973]. Shirley Stoler, who reminds one of that miserable lunchroom worker we all had in high school, plays the corpulent, freckle-faced and vulnerable nurse, Martha, who meets the narcissistic sociopath and becomes his partner in crime. Stark and sterile black & white filming and almost echoic audio conveys the emotional emptiness and detachment of the two main characters well. This was Stoler's first film and her choppy performance reflects this while Lobianco's display as Latin gigolo Ray Fernandez seemed improvised sounding more like Guido Sarducci than a Spanish guy named Ray. The viewer doesn't care about these two odious murderers or their story. We do care about their victims. What director Leonard Kastle presents here is a marvelously sensitive and realistic, yet unsettling, account of the victims' state of jeopardy. Evocative job of showing how a malevolent yet outwardly nonthreatening predator first hooks his victim with appearance [handsome, well-groomed, well-attired], then the eyes, then the words, the lies, then expertly exploits the situation and character flaws of an unwary and vulnerable victim. The cast of female lonely-hearts was carefully selected and their performances surprisingly natural and cogent, basically carrying us through this otherwise morose and depressing little film.Read more ›
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