Murder movie filming under way

Seedy 1970s backdrop for Wellington film

MATT STEWART
Last updated 05:00 31/03/2014
How to Murder Your Wife
SCREENTIME/RICHARD BRIMER
FILM SET: Part of Wellington's Egmont St has been refit to look like the capital's Vivian St red light district in the 1970s for film How to Murder Your Wife.

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Filming is under way on a $3 million TV movie about a bizarre murder set against the 1970s backdrop of the capital's colourful underground and its staid suburbia.

Parts of Cuba, Egmont and Ghuznee streets were blocked off last night to film scenes from How To Murder Your Wife - a two-hour long black comedy based on the real life case of Alfred Benning who strangled his estranged, church-going wife Betty, 63, in 1977.

Betty Benning's dismembered body parts were found by police neatly wrapped in newspaper and buried beneath an apple tree in the couple's Standen St, Karori garden.

Alfred Benning had meticulously cleaned the blood out of the laundry after chopping up his wife with a meat cleaver, but detectives found faint traces of blood on the floorboards under the lino and later the irregular sod of upturned turf next to the apple tree.

The Wellington-filmed period piece focuses on tension between the post-war generation and the baby boomers as they came of age in an era of political, social and sexual upheaval.

To cope with his disintegrating marriage Benning immersed himself in Vivian St's underbelly where he befriended infamous madame, transvestite and gay rights activist Carmen Rupe.

Protest scenes and scenes in a recreated Vivian St red-light district - including Rupe's Carmen's International Coffee Lounge and Purple Onion clubs - were filmed in the all night shoot.

After the murder Benning tried to empty his bank account and entertained prostitutes in the the couple's house.

The crew are 16 days into the five-week shoot by production company Screentime New Zealand, which made Siege and Underbelly NZ.

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- The Dominion Post

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