10 Killer Facts About So I Married an Axe Murderer

TriStar Pictures
TriStar Pictures

On July 30, 1993, TriStar released Mike Myers's second film, So I Married an Axe Murderer. Myers’s first film was the blockbuster Wayne’s World (its sequel came out on December 10, 1993), but with So I Married an Axe Murderer, Myers took his first foray into leading man territory (opposite Nancy Travis, who he thinks is the titular killer).

Future Emmy-winning West Wing producer/director Thomas Schlamme directed the script, written by Robbie Fox. In the film, Myers portrays Charlie MacKenzie, a commitment-phobic beat poet who lives in San Francisco. (Myers also plays Charlie’s Scottish father, Stuart, based on Myers's own dad.) Charlie meets Harriet (Travis), a butcher, and despite suspecting her of murdering her previous husbands, he marries her. The thriller/rom-com was released a month after Sleepless in Seattle, but didn't make nearly the same impact. Axe Murderer grossed just $11.5 million at the box office (on a $20 million budget). Over the years, however, it’s evolved into a cult classic. Here are 10 thrilling facts about the film on its 25th birthday.

1. THE SCRIPT WAS INSPIRED BY ANNIE HALL.

Screenwriter Robbie Fox told a blog that while he was writing the script he was thinking about, “Annie Hall, but what if Annie just might be a murderer.” He sold the idea to Columbia Pictures, and the film’s producer Robert Fried “told me to write for Woody Allen.” Fox said Allen was interested in directing the film, but it didn’t pan out. “As it was told to me, he asked for $7 million; Columbia offered him $5 [million],” Fox said. “They had a Mexican standoff for about two weeks. Then he did Scenes from a Mall instead.”

2. SHARON STONE ALMOST STARRED IN THE FILM.

During production, the studio was considering casting either Kim Basinger or Sharon Stone for the role of Harriet. During the casting process, however, Travis was dating producer Rob Fried. “How did I get involved with Axe Murderer? I can truthfully say I slept with the producer,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I made suggestions, but I stayed back,” she said. “After Sharon Stone fell through, Thomas Schlamme, the director, said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I read with Mike Myers. I passed all the tests.” A year after the film came out, Travis and Fried married. They've been married for nearly 25 years now.

3. MIKE MYERS EQUATED HIS CHARACTER'S FEAR OF MARRIAGE WITH DEATH.

In a 1993 appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show, Myers explained how his character felt about marriage. “Charlie’s thing is that he’s so afraid of getting married that he thinks he’s going to die,” he said. “Then he meets the girl of his dreams, and yes, she will kill him.”

4. THOMAS SCHLAMME DIDN’T THINK MYERS TRUSTED HIM.

The director and actor disagreed on set, to the point that Thomas Schlamme told the Television Academy Foundation that working on the film was “the most difficult experience I had professionally.” He explained: “Because I had such good experiences [with comedians], I was amazed that I couldn’t get this guy to trust me. Mike wasn’t completely off base not to trust me, because I had a lot of anger and rage in there because I felt like I wasn’t being listened to.” Schlamme said he could’ve laid out the problems between them better than he did.

5. YOU CAN VISIT THE PLACE WHERE HARRIET AND CHARLIE HONEYMOONED.

The newlyweds spend their wedding night at a secluded hotel. In real life, they filmed it at the 50-acre Dunsmuir House and Gardens in Oakland, California—though production designer John Graysmark built a 16,224-foot replica of the roof, where the film’s thrilling climax takes place, on a sound stage. Many other movies have filmed at the 1899 estate, including Phantasm, Burnt Offerings, A View to a Kill, and True Crime. Visitors can tour the mansion and the grounds.

6. MYERS LOVED THE LA’S SONG “THERE SHE GOES.”

The one-album English group the La’s released the song—from their only album—in 1988 and then reissued it in 1990. ”I think it’s one of the greatest pop tunes ever,” Myers told Entertainment Weekly in 2005. “Paul Shaffer saw me listening and loving the song, so for many years that’s what he would play whenever I came out on Letterman.”

Two versions of the song appear on the film's soundtrack: the La’s version and a cover from another British group, the Boo Radleys. In 1999, Sixpence None the Richer had a hit when they covered it. Leigh Nash, Sixpence’s lead singer, said it was “the perfect pop song.”

7. THE FILM LED TO SCHLAMME’S SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION CAREER.

Schlamme made his feature directorial debut in 1989 with the Holly Hunter flick Miss Firecracker; So I Married an Axe Murderer was his second—and last—theatrical film. In 2015, when asked why he has "stuck to television, Schlamme told IndieWire: “Well, I would say the reason that it first started was I was put a little bit into movie jail after [So I Married an] Axe Murderer, and it was probably the best thing that’s happened because I had loved television, I was doing television ... But what happened after Axe Murderer was that I realized, with some of the work that I had done, television had the ability to do the kinds of stories that I was interested in. And having the ability to at least get those, where in movies I wasn’t [able], I became committed to television.”

Since Axe Murderer, Schlamme has directed episodes of Friends, Mad About You, Spin City, ER, Sports Night, The West Wing, and The Americans.

8. MYERS THINKS OF IT AS A HORROR MOVIE.

“We’re all suffering from cold feet, and what is cold feet but low-grade terror?” he told the Montreal Gazette. “This story just expands on that terror.”

9. SCHLAMME AND MYERS WANTED TO MAKE DIFFERENT MOVIES.

In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Schlamme explained that one reason he and Myers clashed was because they had different perspectives. “I thought this movie was for 30-year-old men or older,” he said. “It wasn’t for 12-year-olds. I think once he became the Scottish father and once that process started working and once he became much less secure about the film I was trying to make, the tendency to want to go back to his audience and the tendency to push it to be a more mature film just was in absolute direct conflict with one another.”

10. THE FILM’S SCORE WAS ONLY RECENTLY RELEASED.

According to Art of the Title, the title sequence first used a score composed by Bruce Broughton instead of the Boo Radleys’s cover of “There She Goes.” Broughton’s compositions are peppered in between the movie’s licensed pop songs. Finally in 2013, Intrada Records released all 40 of Broughton’s instrumental songs.

Kit Harington Reveals Which Harry Potter Character He'd Want to Play in a Prequel

Kit Harington is clearly drawn to dark, brooding characters.

Winter is Coming reports that Harington, who is best known for his role as Jon Snow in the hard-hitting HBO series Game of Thrones, spoke on a panel at ACE Comic Con this past weekend. Though he was there to discuss his upcoming role as Dane Whitman, a.k.a. Black Knight, in the upcoming Marvel Studios film The Eternals, his involvement in—and love for—other franchises came up during the conversation.

The moderator of the panel surprised the audience by bringing up Harington’s love for the Harry Potter series, and, of course, asked him which Hogwarts house he aligns with. The 32-year-old actor responded, “I am a Gryffindor. I’ve thought very deeply about it.” Though Harington himself identifies with the lion-hearted, he does believe that Jon Snow would be a Hufflepuff because of his undying loyalty.

Harington was then asked which character he would want to play in a hypothetical Harry Potter prequel movie about the Marauders—a group of Gryffindors that included James Potter (Harry’s dad), Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, who attended Hogwarts a generation before Harry and his friends. And who were often at odds with Slytherin Severus Snape.

Harington's response was immediate, and enthusiastic:

Severus Snape is the most tragic, wonderful, brilliant [character] ... He’s a character you hate, and then end up loving. He’s just phenomenal. I don’t think I’m right for him, so I’ll play Sirius. But, whoever gets to play Snape, that’s a great character.”

[h/t Winter Is Coming]

Disney's 10 Scariest Movies

Lynn-Holly Johnson, Bette Davis, and Kyle Richards in The Watcher in the Woods (1980).
Lynn-Holly Johnson, Bette Davis, and Kyle Richards in The Watcher in the Woods (1980).
Walt Disney Pictures

Disney: Known for catchy songs, cute animal sidekicks, brave Princesses … and occasionally scarring children for life. A lot of Disney’s more famously upsetting moments have to do with deathBambi’s mother and Mufasa’s father, for instance—but sometimes the studio goes plain horror movie with it. As Halloween approaches, here are 10 of Disney’s scariest movies.

1. Return to Oz (1985)

Return Oz establishes its “wait, what the hell am I watching?” cred early on, when Dorothy Gale—back in Kansas following her adventures in Oz—is shipped off to the doctor for a round of electroshock therapy to cure her insomnia and “delusions.” Dorothy is saved from her One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest fate and whisked off to Oz again, where she finds that the Nome King and Princess Mombi—Nicol Williamson and Jean Marsh, who also played the doctor and head nurse—have destroyed the Emerald City and turned most of its inhabitants to stone. Playing Dorothy in her first feature film role is Fairuza Balk, who would go on to star in perpetual Halloween favorite The Craft. Return to Oz is the only film directed by legendary editor Walter Murch, most famous for his work on Apocalypse Now.

2. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

The collected works of Ray Bradbury have been adapted into dozens of films, only a handful of which were written by the late author himself. The final feature film to be written by Bradbury is 1983’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, which in its first act is a typical, sweet—if somewhat dark—drama about two young boys growing up in a small town in the Midwest. Then a carnival rolls into town, and things get real messed up. Running the carnival is Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce), who grants the townspeople’s wishes in ways that … well, let’s just say they’re not very nice.

3. Mr. Boogedy (1986)

“Made-for-TV ‘80s movie about a gag gift salesman and his family” doesn’t scream terror, but Mr. Boogedy defies the odds to have some legitimately creepy moments. Granted, it’s not a subtle film: a family that moves into a dilapidated mansion in a town called called Lucifer Falls shouldn’t really expect to have an easy go of things. The mansion, believe it or not, is haunted by not one but three spirits: a widow, her child, and the eponymous Mr. Boogedy, who back in Colonial times sold his soul to Satan for a cloak that gives him magical powers. It’s Mr. Boogedy’s character design that gives the movie its biggest ick factor; the film’s makeup designer, Rick Stratton, would go on to win two Emmys. Mr. Boogedy’s cloak is eventually sucked into a possessed vacuum cleaner.

4. The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

Director John Hough’s The Watcher in the Woods isn’t only scary because it gives Bette Davis and current Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star (and then-child actress) Kyle Richards a decent chunk of shared screen time. Based on a 1976 novel, the film—like Mr. Boogedy—follows a family that moves into a mysterious house haunted by some mysterious presence. In The Watcher in the Woods, that presence is thought to be Karen, the long-disappeared daughter of the house’s owner, played by a collecting-those-paychecks Davis. Spoiler alert: There are actually two presences. One is Karen. The other is an alien. The original ending of The Watcher in the Woods actually showed the alien, but the effects were so bad that the premiere audience broke out laughing, causing Hough to reshoot the climactic final scene with the aliens as a vague blur of light.

5. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Released in 1949, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is made up of two half-hour, kid-friendly literary adaptations, the first from The Wind in the Willows and the second from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Neither segment is particularly scary … up until the last few minutes of “Sleepy Hollow,” when the animators went all-out to make schoolteacher Ichabod Crane’s flight from the Headless Horseman a contender for Disney’s scariest scene. Clyde Geronimi, who with Jack Kinney directed the “Sleepy Hollow” sequence, would go on to co-direct Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and 101 Dalmatians.

6. Pinocchio (1940)

Jiminy Cricket hopping around and The Blue Fairy singing “When You Wish Upon a Star” might be the most enduring images from Disney’s second-ever animated feature, but let’s not forget that Pinocchio could be scary when it needed to be. The film’s most potent bit of nightmare fuel comes in the scene where a bunch of children are magically transformed into terrified, crying donkeys so they could be sold away as slave labor. Looks like Disney had a taste for causing childhood trauma early on.

7. “The Skeleton Dance” (1929)

Spooky and cute: Why not both? The 1929 short “The Skeleton Dance” threads the needle deftly, with its depiction of a quartet of skeletons dancing around a graveyard maintaining the goofy tone that marks most of the early Disney shorts while still providing an ample dose of the shivers. “The Skeleton Dance” was drawn by Ub Iwerks, who several years earlier had designed Mickey Mouse.

8. Fantasia (1940)

Most of the segments in Disney’s Fantasia are markedly un-creepy—unless you consider ballet-dancing hippos disturbing, which makes a fair amount of sense—but with “Night on Bald Mountain,” Disney went full dark and stormy night. Set to the title song by composer Modest Mussorgsky, the film depicts the ancient Slavic deity Chernabog (whose name means “black god) calling all sorts of assorted demonic creatures to him before being driven away by the rising of the sun. Bela Lugosi served as a live-action reference for Chernabog, spending a day at Disney Studios striking a series of ominous poses. Nothing that Lugosi provided was ultimately used, as animator Bill Tylta was unimpressed by it.

9. The Black Cauldron (1985)

The Black Cauldron was an infamous failure for Disney, earning a mere $20 million domestically against a budget that made it, at the time, "the most expensive animated feature ever made.” With the film, Disney ditched the songs and lighthearted feel that marked its animated features up to that point in favor of a darker fantasy epic; notably, The Black Cauldron was the first Disney animated feature to earn a PG rating. Though it’s notoriously regarded as a flop, there’s one area in which The Black Cauldron is quite successful: making its villain, the Horned King, absolutely terrifying. Even the way he dies is nightmare-inducing: The magical black cauldron that the Horned King hoped would give him power to take over the world with an undead army instead melts his flesh off. It’s a bit more gruesome than the typically death-by-falling most Disney villains get.

10. Hocus Pocus (1993)

Initially released in 1993 to middling box office returns (Disney made the odd choice to release this Halloween-themed movie in July), director Kenny Ortega’s Hocus Pocus has gone on to achieve cult status. Omri Katz, since retired from acting, stars as Max Dennison, who with neighbor Allison and younger sister Dani must defeat the Sanderson sisters, a trio of witches who were hanged during the Salem witch trials. One of the witches was played by Sarah Jessica Parker, whose ancestor Esther Elwell was accused of being a witch in 17th-century Salem; she escaped execution when prosecution from witchcraft was done away with.

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