So I Married an Axe Murderer
|So I Married an Axe Murderer|
|Directed by||Thomas Schlamme|
|Produced by||Robert N. Fried
|Written by||Robbie Fox
|Music by||Bruce Broughton|
|Edited by||Colleen Halsey
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
So I Married an Axe Murderer is a 1993 American romantic comedy thriller film starring Mike Myers and Nancy Travis. Myers plays Charlie McKenzie, a man afraid of commitment until he meets Harriet (Travis), who works at a butcher shop and may be a serial killer. In addition to playing the main character, Myers also plays Charlie's father, Stuart.
This was Myers' first film after achieving success in the Wayne's World franchise and was not well received by most mainstream critics or at the box office, grossing a total of USD $11 million in North America, well below its $20 million budget.
Charlie McKenzie (Myers) is a beat poet living in San Francisco, after having broken up with yet another woman based on paranoid perception. His friend Tony, a policeman, points out that Charlie simply is afraid of commitment and tries to think of or invent any reason to break up with someone.
Charlie encounters a butcher named Harriet, and the two quickly find common bonds between them. They start to date, and Charlie learns she used to live in Atlantic City, had been involved with a trainer in Russian martial arts, and screams at someone named Ralph in her sleep. After staying at her place one night, Charlie meets Harriet's sister, Rose, who warns Charlie to be careful. As they continue to see each other, Charlie and Harriet fall in love. He arranges a dinner with her to meet his parents, Stuart and May, who both believe in conspiracy theories and get their news from the Weekly World News tabloid. While there, Charlie spots one paper that describes the story about a "Mrs. X", a bride that kills her husbands on their honeymoons using an ax, and matches all the mannerism that Harriet has shown.
Charlie becomes paranoid and asks Tony to investigate Harriet and the Mrs. X story. Tony reveals that the husbands of Mrs. X were all reported missing alongside their wives, assuring that Harriet is unlikely to be Mrs. X. Charlie remains on edge, and after a few more troubled dates, decides to break up with her. Tony later reports that a killer in the Mrs. X story has confessed. Relieved, Charlie apologizes to Harriet by reciting one of his beat poems to her from his rooftop. They make up, and Harriet explains away some of the confusion Charlie had from her history, such as Ralph being the name of a woman she knew.
Some time later, Charlie proposes to Harriet, which she reluctantly accepts after some hesitation and they arrange for a wedding in a secluded mountain hotel. After they depart, Tony learns that the confessed killer really is a liar. He sends a photo of Harriet to the known associates of the missing husbands, and all report back that she was their friends' wife. With phone lines to the hotel down, Tony charters a plane. Once he lands, he is able to call Charlie locally and warn him that Harriet is really Mrs. X, but the hotel phone line is knocked out and power is lost.
Charlie is panicked and tries to stay away from Harriet without letting her know what he knows, but the hotel staff force him into the honeymoon suite for their first night together. Charlie finds himself alone and discovers a "Dear Jane" letter, purportedly written by him, explaining his absence to Harriet. Suddenly, Rose appears wielding an ax. Rose tells Charlie he was not supposed to find the letter, and reveals herself as the Mrs. X killer - she feels that Harriet's husbands are taking her sister from her, and so killed them on their honeymoon night and leading Harriet to believe that each husband simply left her. Charlie begins a game of cat-and-mouse to stay away from Rose while waiting for the police to arrive.
Tony leads the police into the hotel but arrests Harriet, still believing her to be the murderer. Having chased Charlie to the hotel roof, Rose swings the ax at Charlie and is thrown off the building, with only Charlie holding her up from falling to her death. Tony comes to catch her fall, where she is arrested and taken away. Charlie and Harriet resume their lives afterward as a happy couple.
- Mike Myers as Charlie and Stuart MacKenzie
- Nancy Travis as Harriet Michaels
- Anthony LaPaglia as Tony Giardino
- Amanda Plummer as Rose Michaels
- Alan Arkin as Police Captain
- Michael Richards as Insensitive Man
- Brenda Fricker as May MacKenzie
- Matt Doherty as William "Head" MacKenzie
- Charles Grodin as Commandeered Driver
- Phil Hartman as John "Vickie" Johnson, Alcatraz Guide
- Debi Mazar as Susan, Tony's Girlfriend
- Steven Wright as Pilot
- Jessie Nelson as Ralph
The genesis of the film originated in 1987 when producer Robert N. Fried met with writer Robbie Fox to discuss story ideas. They ended up talking about the problems they had with women and agreed that "most women appeared to be out to destroy us!" the producer recalled. Fried and co-producer Cary Woods formed their own production company in 1992 and So I Married An Axe Murderer was their first film and they were given a $20 million budget. Fox wrote the screenplay in 1987. In the original version, Charlie was Jewish and, according to Fried, it was "initially conceived as being more about paranoia than commitment". Myers wanted changes to the script that would allow him to do some serious acting and Saturday Night Live-style comedy.
He extensively rewrote the script with writer Neil Mullarkey, an old friend from Britain. According to Myers, they changed the story and many of the comedic moments. Fox was asked to consider a new set of credits that gave him a "story by" and co-screenplay credit. He rejected the proposal and in arbitration, the Writers Guild of America decided that Fox would receive sole screenwriting credit. Fried and Myers were upset that Mullarkey, who put a lot of work into the script, did not get any credit.
To play Charlie MacKenzie, Fried and co-producer Cary Woods asked Mike Myers because of the success he had with the first Wayne's World film. He agreed because he liked the script and many of his friends also had a fear of commitment and "were all suffering from cold feet and what is cold feet but a low-grade terror? This story just expands on that terror". Before he was approached, Woody Allen considered playing Charlie. Chevy Chase, Albert Brooks, and Martin Short also considered the role but did not like the character. Sharon Stone was initially set to play Harriet Michaels, the supposed axe murderer of the film's title.
Like Myers who has two roles in the film, Stone wanted to play Harriet and the role of Rose, Harriet's sister, the latter part portrayed in the film by Amanda Plummer. Studio executives at Sony did not like the idea of Stone playing both roles, and upon realizing this she refused to accept the part. Nancy Travis was then cast in the role instead. Travis was drawn to her character's "qualities of danger and compassion mixed with humor [which] make her an intriguing character".
Anthony LaPaglia said that his character "has grand illusions of being Serpico, you know he's ready to fight crime like his hero did. But he's just not competent". When the actors did the first cast read-through of the script, Charlie's father, Stuart, had not yet been cast.
Myers read that character's lines and the filmmakers so enjoyed his interpretation that they realized he could play that role as well. The film also features cameos by Charles Grodin, Phil Hartman, Michael Richards, Mike Hagarty, Debi Mazar, Steven Wright, and Alan Arkin, appearing uncredited as Tony's sensitive boss. They all agreed to be in the film for the opportunity of working with Myers.
To fit both Charlie and his father in the same scene together, the filmmakers used a split-screen process. To look the role of Stuart, Myers spent over three-and-a-half hours having special prosthetic make-up applied. While filming scenes in the butcher shop, Nancy Travis was distracted by Myers' antics and accidentally took off the tip of her middle finger on her left hand while chopping vegetables with a kitchen knife. A local doctor sewed her finger back together. Travis said that she and Myers did a lot of improvising together and he taught her a lot about comedy and showed her "how to be relaxed and spontaneous on the set".
There were stories in the press that Myers' over-inflated ego forced extensive re-shoots on the film and that he tried to deny Robbie Fox credit for writing the film. On the set, director Thomas Schlamme said that he had his differences with Myers over how the film should be shaped. He said that Myers was "taking a stretch beyond his usual self and was playing outside himself.
Personality clashes were bound to happen. We struggled". However, the director denied that Myers was a control freak and praised the "total commitment to his work. (But) yes, it was difficult". In addition, several major newspapers and magazines claimed that the film went over budget, with in-fighting among the principal actors and lengthy release delays, and that it was unfunny. Despite these early reports, So I Married an Axe Murderer scored high at test screenings.
Set in San Francisco, California, the film features many famous sights and neighborhoods of the Golden State metropolis, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Palace of Fine Arts and Alcatraz. One scene on Alcatraz was filmed in "A" block, an area that is still in its original state from 1912 and is not open to the public. The tiny Cloverdale Municipal Airport also is in the film.
The space for actors, crew and equipment is narrow, a challenge also faced by the makers of The Rock, which has Nicolas Cage's and Sean Connery escaping from their cells. The restaurant where Myers and Travis double date with LaPaglia and Debi Mazar is the Fog City Diner. The butcher shop used for "Meats of the World" was Prudente Meats on Grant Ave in the North Beach Section of San Francisco.
The final scenes are set at Dunsmuir House in the East Oakland foothills. Additional special effects and matte paintings created the illusion that the location was secluded among mountains. The exterior shot for the café, Cafe Roads, where Myers recites his beat poetry, is the bar Vesuvio, at Columbus Avenue and Jack Kerouac Alley. The filmmaker picked San Francisco as the film's setting because it was an ideal place for a poet like Charlie to live.
Myers has said that he was attracted to its "coffeehouse culture, with its clothes and music and its whole sensibility ... people aren't going to bars as much. They tend to go out and have coffee". Several sets were built in warehouses near Candlestick Park and these soundstages were used for many weeks.
|So I Married an Axe Murderer (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Soundtrack album by Various artists|
|Released||July 27, 1993|
- Boo Radleys - "There She Goes" 2:18
- Toad the Wet Sprocket - "Brother" 4:04
- Soul Asylum - "The Break" 2:46
- Chris Whitley - "Starve To Death" 3:14
- Big Audio Dynamite II - "Rush" 3:55
- Mike Myers - "This Poem Sucks" 2:04
- Ned's Atomic Dustbin - "Saturday Night" 3:08
- The Darling Buds - "Long Day In The Universe" 4:08
- The Spin Doctors - "Two Princes" 4:15
- Suede - "My Insatiable One" 2:57
- Sun-60 - "Maybe Baby" 3:43
- The La's - "There She Goes" 2:42
Other music in the film
- The Bay City Rollers - "Saturday Night"
- Ron Gonnelia - "A Touch of Gaelic"
- Rod Stewart - "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" (sung by Mike Myers)
- Nancy Travis - "Only You"
The film's original score was composed and conducted by Bruce Broughton. Due to the movie having a heavy emphasis on popular music, several of Broughton's cues were replaced with songs (such as his main title music being supplanted by The Boo Radleys' version of "There She Goes," and "Butcher Shop Montage" having Big Audio Dynamite's "Rush" substituted).
However, Broughton was appreciative of the support music supervisor Danny Bramson and director Thomas Schlamme gave him, stating "I was given the opportunity to make my case, and I didn't get slighted... But the way it ended up was the way it ended up. It was done with a lot of creative latitude, and creative permission and confidence. I can't complain about the way it came out."
Intrada Records released an album of his music on November 25, 2013, featuring the complete score plus alternates and original versions of cues.
- Main Title 2:55
- Boy Meets Girl 1:09
- Weekly World News 0:38
- Butcher Shop Montage 1:58
- Russian Stroll 2:23
- Goin' For It 2:19
- Forever Wet 1 1:00
- Forever Wet 2 0:59
- Creeping Doubt (Revised) 1:05
- Ralph 1:05
- Name Your Poison 1:12
- Ear Needles (Revised) 0:45
- Globe Bridge 1:08
- Reflections 0:42
- You Blew It 0:27
- The Bath (Revised) 0:54
- She's Guilty (Revised) 1:04
- Wedding Bands 0:32
- Inn Source #2 2:14
- Stalking 0:42
- She's Mrs. Axe (Revised) 0:57
- The Finale 5:27
- The Finale Part 2 3:13
- End Theme 1:35
- Go See The Folks 0:17
- Dinner Drive (Original) 0:27
- Goin' For It (Revised) 2:19
- Creeping Doubt (Original) 1:05
- Ear Needles (Original) 0:14
- Globe Bridge (Alternate) 0:29
- Second Thoughts 0:13
- Second Thoughts (Revised) 0:12
- The Bath 0:52
- She's Guilty 1:05
- She's Mrs. Axe 0:57
- The Finale Part 2 (Alternate) 2:26
- Inn Source #1 (Haydn Quartet) 1:46
- Inn Source #2 (Alternate) 1:32
- Only You (And You Alone) 1:31
Total Time: 52:56
So I Married an Axe Murderer was first shown at a screening to benefit the local San Francisco film office on July 27, 1993 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater and had its official world premiere at the Galaxy Theater in Hollywood on July 28 with Myers, Travis, and LaPaglia in attendance. The film was not well received at the box office. It was released on July 30 in 1,349 theaters and grossed a total of USD $3.4 million on its opening weekend. It made a total of $11.5 million in North America, well below its $20 million budget.
The film had very mixed reviews and has a 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 33 reviews. Roger Ebert, in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, criticized the film for being "a mediocre movie with a good one trapped inside, wildly signaling to be set free". Rolling Stone magazine's review felt that "Juggling mirth, romance and murder requires a deft touch - think of Hitchcock's Trouble with Harry. Axe is a blunt instrument". Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "C-" and said, "In some perverse way, So I Married an Axe Murderer seems to be asking us to laugh at how not-funny it is".
In his review for the Washington Post, Hal Hinson had a mixed reaction to Myers' performance: "Everything he does is charmingly lightweight and disposable and reasonably impossible to resist. And in the end, because the character is so easily within reach for him, you may come away feeling a little cheated, as if you hadn't quite seen a movie at all". However, Janet Maslin's review in the New York Times said that it came as "a welcome surprise that So I Married an Axe Murderer, which might have been nothing more than a by-the-numbers star vehicle, surrounds Mr. Myers with amusing cameos and gives him a chance to do more than just coast".
In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, Edward Guthmann called the film a "trifle, at best - but it's so full of good spirits, and so rich with talented actors having a marvelous time, that its flaws tend to wash away".
A DVD of the film was first released in June 1999. The artwork for the DVD featured an image different than the original movie poster, which had Harriet holding an axe behind her back. A "Deluxe Edition" DVD and Blu-ray edition was released in June 2008.
- "So I Married an Axe Murderer Production Notes". TriStar Pictures. 1993.
- Stanley, John (August 1, 1993). "Choppy Waters for Axe Murderer". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Portman, Jamie (July 30, 1993). "Errors of Outrageous Fortune". Toronto Star.
- Kolnow, Barry (August 3, 1993). "Has Success Spoiled Mike Myers? Comic Says No". Montreal Gazette.
- Fook, John Evan (July 15, 1993). "Axe Murderer Fete to Benefit Frisco Film Commish". Variety.
- Daly, James (January 2016). "Big Directors Who Filmed in Small Sonoma County Towns". Sonoma Magazine. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
- Liner notes, score album, Intrada Special Collection Vol. 258
- "So I Married An Axe Murderer". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
- Ebert, Roger (July 30, 1993). "So I Married An Axe Murderer". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
- Travers, Peter (August 19, 1993). "So I Married An Axe Murderer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
- Gleiberman, Owen (August 13, 1993). "So I Married An Axe Murderer". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Hinson, Hal (July 30, 1993). "So I Married An Axe Murderer". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
- Maslin, Janet (July 30, 1993). "Yes, Boy Meets Girl, But This Time the Girl Wields Sharp Objects". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
- Guthmann, Edward (July 30, 1993). "It's Wayne's Adult World for Mike Myers in Axe". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "ASIN: B00177YA1A". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-05-30.
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- locations where the film was shot