Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970)

Yesterday, I read about a Zombie Studies course now being offered at the University of Baltimore (Go Fightin’ Omars!). The professor had written a book about Zombie movies and is using his ‘publish or perish’ to put butts in the seats. The course will examine zombie influences on culture and the various zombie symbolism in the Romero movies. It’s one of those movie watchin’ classes. Kids love the movie watchin’ classes. Except westerns. (Sorry, JV. You’ll never read this so I’m only joshing.)

I know a lot of my Humanities peeps are scratching out lures for students and classes. C’mon, Humanitiods, know you’ve read those sparkly vampire books and watch True Blood religiously, so why aren’t you pursuing developing some kind of Vampire Minor course study. Bloodsucking in the Modern Age or The Business Savvy of Vampyres.
A lot of today’s students already think Wikipedia is the most trusted source in knowledge and that you should be able to Twitter your term paper.
So, why not go for it? Integrity? Bah!
As the Kinks once sang, “You gotta give the people what they want…” Or maybe it was Barnum. To the Wikipedia!

I’m counting today’s review as a college course-level credit. I’ll submit it to the University of Phoenix with a twenty attached and by this time next year, I’ll be Nebraska’s foremost Gallo Expert. (Look it up, they most likely exist.)

All part of my master plan to meet horror FX master Tom Savini.

To the IMDB!

Hatchet for the Honeymoon‘s John Harrington is a paranoid. He says so in the movie’s opening voice-over. He’s really a psycho and you could certainly see Brett Easton Ellis ripping off this film for American Psycho. Although you can see echo’s of Hitchcock’s Psycho in Honeymoon.
So, psycho’s all around.
While certainly not the best Gallo or Italian horror or even Bava’s best, Honeymoon is still fun to watch for all the melodrama, camp and pulp. Harrington has all the hallmarks of a good psycho lead—cartoonish good looks, a shrew of a wife, mother issues, a penchant for a singular method of killing, he makes out with mannequins and confuses reality with said mannequins, brooding, scene chewing stares into the camera as his sanity slips, profuse sweating, some flourishes with femininity like wearing bridal veils and his fey way with doves and other animals, and some great b-a-n-a-n-a-s internal monologues.
From IMDB:
My name is John Harrington. I’m 30 years old. I’m a paranoiac. Paranoiac. An enchanting word, so civilized, full of possibilities. The truth is, I am completely mad. The realization which annoys me at first, but is now amusing to me. Quite amusing. Nobody suspects I am a madman. A dangerous murderer. Not Mildred, my wife. Nor the employees of my fashion center. Nor of course my customers.

[scoops a fly out of his drink]

Poor little fly. Why are you so daring? You’re so fragile? Yet you’re born, you reproduce yourself, and you die like man. The difference is you don’t think. And, you don’t need to remember. You don’t fear death because you ignore it. You’re insignificant life is a mere accident. But death exists I assure you, and that’s what makes life a ridiculous and brutal drama. But the fact remains that I have killed five young women. Three of whom are buried in the hothouse. Carol, Mary and Margaret. They were the friendliest, the most attractive ones. There is one problem. I must go on wielding the cleaver. It’s most annoying. But when I begin to hear the footsteps. Those stealthy footsteps, I know I just kill. And shall have to keep on killing, until I find out the truth. That’s it, the whole truth.

Of course, it’s said in this slow, menacing way. Scenery is chewed.

Ahh, to heck with it. Great and even good Italian horror movies are mostly the sum of many awesome parts and I just want to list the parts:
Harrington is a wealthy bridal fashion designer, so there’s plenty of awesome clothes and bloody hatchets being wiped on wedding garb.
The music is very Douglas Sirk romantic bombastic with swells and hypnotic wistfulness. It isn’t typical horror music. It’s the score to a romance novel.
The mystery here isn’t who the killer is, but why he kills. It’s real easy to figure out why, but he kills because each time he kills, a clue is revealed in his warped mind, it’s a neat twist.
The mechanical cymbal-smashing toy monkey. Every mausoleum to a warped childhood should have a whole table of them.
A great scene where he’s just killed, the body is at the top of a circular staircase dripping blood and the police who are interviewing him are unaware. Drip, drip, drip. Very Hitchcock.
A reverse ghost. Not going to explain it, but it’s a strange twist on an old trope.
Nice foes in his bitchy wife (Never utter the phrase “Until death do we part” in a horror movie) and the slow Columbo-esque detective.
The location–the real home of dead Spanish General Fransisco Franco. As Chevy says, he’s still dead. His house looks great.
The odd colors, the strange zooms, the weird visual cul-de-sacs, the non-blinking stares and the actresses with haunting eyes, yep, it’s all there.

There isn’t a lot of blood, but that would actually hurt the tone. Honeymoon doesn’t want to be remembered for the gory set-pieces, but for the slip into insanity.
On the negative side, the ending is bland compared to a strong first act. One of my favorite Bava Films, Bay of Blood, has one of the best endings I’ve ever seen, very unexpected. Check out Bay of Blood, it’s a strong precursor to slasher films like Friday the 13th and Black Christmas.
And done.
College credit please. I mean I used the phrases cul-de-sac, mausoleum, and bombastic.

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