Warren Steibel

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The Honeymoon Killers Review


Excellent
A cinematic oddity seen by few, The Honeymoon Killers is a landmark entry into the shockumentary genre -- the true story of an exceptionally dysfunctional couple who went a-murdering in the 1940s. Raymond Fernandez (played here by smarmy Tony Lo Bianco) was acting alone -- killing women he met through a personals service (and absconding with their wealth) -- and the rotund Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) would have been his next victim, had she not proven herself equally sociopathic as Raymond. They started plying the killing trade together: Ray would woo the landlady and get her to marry him, Martha would pose as a relative. Eventually they would poison the woman and move on to the next victim. Maybe the next one would get it with a hammer, who knows.

The Honeymoon Killers is a fairly faithful rendition of the Fernandez-Beck affair, and rightly so: It's a story that needs little embellishment. Writer/director Leonard Kastle was a first-timer; he would never make another film, either. His amateurism shows: The sound is atrocious, and the story has odd jumps in it. Kastle's cameraman saves him more than once with inspired setups that sometimes leave the murders to the imagination, and sometimes don't.

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