This cultish account of the life and crimes of Martha Beck and Ray Fernandez proved surprisingly influential, cited as a favourite by Truffaut and John Waters among others. Con man Ray (Tony Lo Bianco) makes his living seducing lonely women until along comes Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler), who is overweight and uncharming, but the couple nonetheless fall in love, continuing Ray’s con game with frequently deadly consequences.
The Honeymoon Killers makes use of a similar black-and-white documentary style to that employed in the true-crime classic In Cold Blood, but the lurid mood, the absurd romance and flamboyant characters strive for a very different effect. Similarly, the elements of breezy black comedy contrast with the genuine nastiness that is often on display. The bewildering effect that comes through could be called camp, but the transgressive nature of the film and its psychological interest in its warped yet strangely innocent central characters doesn’t fit well within that descriptor. Regardless, the film is strange enough to be worth a look, even if just once.
Audio and Visuals
The 1969 film is well-preserved, unlike many in the Arrow catalogue, with a nicely balanced soundtrack with only occasional instances of poor sound mixing. The cinematography is rich, deep and occasionally fascinating. The film has undergone a 4K restoration and is presented in 1080p High Def on the Blu-Ray.
The newly-created cover art, black and white on pink, does a better job of conveying the kind of film contained inside than does the original art, but with a reversible sleeve, the purchaser has their options open. The menu is in the Arrow Video style, with clips and soundtrack from the film. There is also a booklet with pictures and a new essay by Johnny Mains.
Somewhat surprisingly, there is no commentary featured on this disc. Writer/director Leonard Kastle passed away in 2011, but you might think there was one critic out there willing to give a few thoughts on the film. Instead, we get a solid but unenlightening documentary, “Love Letters”, along with not just one or two but three pieces by directors of other versions of the Lonely Hearts Killers story: Lonely Hearts director talks about the real-life Ray and Martha in “Folie à Deux”, and about The Honeymoon Killers in “Body Shaming”, while Alleluia director Fabrice du Welz struggles with his English in “Beyond Morality”. The only other feature is a trailer.
Whether you fall in love with this film or not, it is strongly recommended that you see it just for the experience, and what better way than with this new and expectedly excellent Arrow Video release?
Arrow Academy released The Honeymoon Killers on Blu-ray and DVD today (9th November)! You can order it from Arrow themselves, from Amazon and every self-respecting retailer.