How So I Married an Axe Murderer Wrecked One Writer’s Vision, Lost Several Stars, Bombed at the Box Office, and Became a Classic Anyway

'So I Married an Axe Murderer' 25th Anniversary

Anyone who’s seen and loved the 1993 cult classic So I Married an Axe Murderer knows that its title doesn’t describe the plot literally. (If you haven’t seen it, you should know that there are spoilers ahead.) The dark romantic comedy features Mike Myers as Charlie MacKenzie, a sensitive beat poet who is deathly afraid of commitment, at least until he meets the love of his life: a beautiful butcher named Harriet, who may or may not be a serial killer. Charlie falls in love despite himself, but a story that’s all over the supermarket tabloids stokes his fears of getting involved with Harriet. A mysterious black widow called Mrs. X has left a trail of dead husbands across the country: a plumber, an Atlantic City lounge singer, a Russian martial arts expert in Miami. Harriet’s sister Rose, it turns out, is the real killer, quietly murdering her sister’s husbands out of jealousy and allowing Harriet to believe they up and ghosted her.

Axe Murderer started life as an idea for a quite different movie. It began in 1988, when a young screenwriter named Robbie Fox sold a pitch to then-Columbia executive Robert Fried called “The Man Who Cried Wife.” Crucially, in this original version, the protagonist really does marry an axe murderer. Speaking to Spin recently over the phone, Fox described the wry, distinctly Jewish outlook of his first script as “essentially Woody Allen in Hitchcock’s Suspicion,” or like Annie Hall, if Annie was a serial killer. “She was great at a dinner party: bright, funny, great cook,” Fox quipped. “Other than the stabbings, she was the perfect wife.”

Just about everyone involved in Axe Murderer agrees that Mike Myers is largely responsible the tone of the finished film, right down to the fixation on bohemian culture and the Britpop-heavy soundtrack. Fresh from a star-making turn in Wayne’s World, he used his new sway at the box office to refashion Fox’s idea into something broader, with more silly voices, sight gags, and potential mainstream appeal. In other words, something more recognizable as a Mike Myers movie, an archetype that would reach its essential form with Austin Powers a few years later. Myers drastically reworked the script with his writing partner Neil Mullarkey, and Charlie Byers the New York Jew became Charlie MacKenzie, the son of Scottish immigrants in San Francisco. The star also wrote a second role for himself in Charlie’s father Stuart, a sort of proto-Fat Bastard character who provides Axe Murderer with some of its most beloved moments by constantly berating his younger son about the giant size of his giant head, in a comical Scottish accent. (“It’s like an orange on a toothpick!”)

How <i data-lazy-src=

IMPACT

you may like

Scroll to Top