These fictional killer couples from the big screen prove that criminals work better in pairs … until they get caught.
6. Kit and Holly
Seen in: Badlands (pictured above)
Terrence Malick’s haunting exploration of American violence tells the tale of Kit Carruthers, a handsome and dangerous greaser, who charms young Holly Sargis into running away. When Holly’s father attempts to intervene, Kit promptly kills him, and the doomed couple flees for South Dakota, leaving a series of cold-blooded murders in their wake. Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek are brilliant in this classic, which was based loosely on the 1958 killing spree of teenaged couple Charles Starkweather and Caril-Ann Fugate.
5. Frank and Cora
Seen in: The Postman Always Rings Twice
The 1946 adaptation of James M. Cain’s noir classic focuses on Frank and Cora, two young lovers from a southern California town who plot to kill Cora’s boorish husband and start a new life together. When the plan falls apart, Frank and Cora scramble to cover their bloody tracks before the law catches up to them both. Cain’s sordid tale created huge controversy upon publication in 1934; the novel’s explicit violence and frank scenes of sexuality shocked readers of the era and led to it being banned for obscenity.
4. Mickey and Mallory
Seen in: Natural Born Killers
Oliver Stone’s frenetic film (also inspired by the Starkweather-Fugate crime spree) continues to unsettle audiences with its brutal vision of violence-obsessed culture. Newlyweds Mickey and Mallory – played with eye-popping intensity by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis – set out to celebrate their love by killing as many people as possible. When they catch the attention of the media, the sweethearts are elevated to rock star status by an adoring public who cannot look away.
3. Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan
Seen in: Rope
This Hitchcock classic centers on Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan, two brilliant Manhattan aesthetes who murder a former classmate as an intellectual exercise. To prove they pulled off the perfect murder, the pair hosts a dinner party comprised of the dead classmate’s friends and relatives. The body is hidden inside a trunk, which the killers use as a buffet table. Rope, itself an adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s play, was inspired by the infamous case of Leopold and Loeb: two University of Chicago students who out of hubris believed they could get away with murder and killed a 14-year-old boy.
2. J.D. and Veronica
Seen in: Heathers
“Chaos is great! Chaos is what killed the dinosaurs, darling.” It’s J.D. and Veronica versus Sherwood, Ohio in this eminently quotable dark comedy from the 80s. The Heathers is a clique of three beautiful girls with matching first names who rule the halls of Westerburg High. When outsider Veronica finds herself accepted by the circle, she’s uncertain how to feel. That is, until she meets J.D., a mysterious student with a penchant for murder.
1. Bonnie and Clyde
Seen in: Bonnie and Clyde
Where would this list be without the wild and sexy couple, Bonnie and Clyde? Inspired by real-life outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, this New Hollywood landmark made major waves in 1967, opening the floodgate for gritty, graphic films. At the time, critics were shocked by the film’s glorification of murderers, but it’s now considered a masterpiece, and the ultra-violent demise of its titular characters remains one of the bloodiest scenes set to celluloid.
Photos: Courtesy of Warner Bros - 1973