2020 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 19: The Honeymoon Killers (1969)

DAY 19. BEYOND THE DARKNESS: Watch one with a love story in it. There’s more than one way to get mushy!

Inspired by the true story of Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck, the notorious “lonely hearts killers” of the 1940s, The Honeymoon Killers tells the tale with Tony Lo Bianco and Shirley Stoler, in her film debut, as the leads.

Ray starts the film by seducing Martha and stealing money from her, but it turns out that she may be every but his equal, using her wits to help him con and even kill numerous women from lonely hearts ads.

From relationship to relationship, Ray promises to never cheat on Martha, but there’s no way that he can keep up the con. Along the way, every one that crosses their path dies, often horribly.

Originally to be directed by Martin Scorsese, who was fired from the film, it was taken over by writer Leonard Kastle, who only created this one film. Named by François Truffaut as his “favorite American film,” it looks more like a grim documentary than an exploitation film.

American-International Pictures was going to distribute this, even making ad materials, but dropped it due to the film’s “extremely gruesome and misanthropic” tone. Their loss — it’s a work of art.

I’m enthused by the fact that an ad appeared in Variety at some point in the late 70’s announcing a sequel. Although never made, the story would have involved an imagined death row conjugal visit between Ray and Martha , resulting in the prison birth of brother/sister twins who were separated at birth. Years later, the pair meets and becomes adult murderers/lovers, never suspecting that they are siblings. This movie needs to be made.

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