Monsters (2010)

It’s nice to review a movie the same day as The AV Club does.

In thinking about my two favorite Sci-fi movies, they share two qualities. One, a strong theme or point of view and two, an attention to detail. I could watch Children of Men and Brazil (what I’m classifying as my favorite sci-fi movies) again and again because I find something new each time I watch.

Monsters is a good-looking low-budget Sci-fi movie that should probably change it’s name. It isn’t about Monsters. The movie isn’t a high-octane thrill-ride or even something like War of the Worlds. You only see about a handful of creatures (the movie only refers to them as creatures). Monsters is just plain the wrong name. A co-worker who also watched the movie last night on HDNet (it’s not in theaters yet, but you can get it on Video on Demand or HDNet) came to work mad because he expected wall-to-wall monster killing or something akin to District 9. The first ‘action’ sequence doesn’t even occur until an hour in the film.
However, District 9 could be Monsters’ spiritual precursor. It’s a low budget, almost documentary style film that has decent effects and approaches the theme as a way to deliver a message. District 9 was not so subtly about apartheid as Monster is not so subtly about immigration.
The basic plot is, as they say in video game parlance, an escort mission. A photojournalist has to escort his boss’ daughter through an infected zone to get her back to America.
You see, six years ago, a US space capsule crashed in Northern Mexico containing life from outer space. The space creatures then proceeded to grow and take over the whole top half of Mexico. They’re basically 100 foot walking octopuses who seem to thrive on electrical things. The US built a giant wall along the Rio Grande (hmmm, familiar idea?) to keep the creatures out. Does it work? Well….

However, take out the occasional Monsters and you have a romance/road picture about the photojournalist and the already engaged daughter. The twist in this movie is they are the only real actors in the film. To save money, the director used real Mexican locations and regular folks to fill out the rest of the cast. For the most part, this ploy works and strengthens the docu feel. Only the two principals seem like they’re ‘acting’ in some of the scenes among the more stoic Mexican cast. The writer/director also did all of the creature effects and he certainly knows the best way to cover up any flaws is to have nighttime attacks—the monsters look credible, better than any Syfy production.

The script is pretty strong, only bringing out the Message Hammer ™ in one scene on top of an Aztec ruin. That scene could have easily been cut, we get it, the US sees immigrants as monsters. The giant wall in the back ground drives that point home. Otherwise, the plot moves pretty organically, albeit a bit slow for what the title suggests the pace should be. In fact, many might see the ending as anti-climatic, but I liked the wonder of it and thought it served the romance aspects of the film well.

Back to what struck me most about the film, the details. Lazy movies, especially Sci-fi, will trot out a character to explain what the monster does, how it acts and how we’re responded to it. Monsters doesn’t do that, everything you need to learn about how the world has changed is all in the back ground of this devastated third-world Mexico. Signs, news reports, cartoons, graffiti, implied and overheard conversations, it’s all there. Children of Men and Brazil (and District 9) excelled in this sort of world building, as does Monsters. It’s always nice when a movie doesn’t treat you like you’re dumb.

Monsters isn’t the best Sci-fi movie or as good as District 9, it can be a bit heavy-handed, but it’s nice to see the genre open up and incorporate other genres using the Sci-fi elements as background. However, the most encouraging aspect of Monsters is that truly, really, a gigantic budget isn’t needed to make a quality monster movie. I may like the film more for what it represents than for what it is.

Oh, but really, change the name Monsters. There were more actual Monsters in the Charlize Theron movie Monster than this Monsters.

One possible suggestion for a sequel—Mexican cartels. How do they get all that marijuana north of the border now that giant octopuses roam the land?

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The New York Ripper (1982)

Last weekend, Shells out of the blue wanted to watch a horror movie. That’s one of the reasons why I love her. So we settled in with Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween 2. His first Halloween wasn’t fantastic, but certainly had a great 1970’s look and struck the right tone. Zombie, after four movies, has developed a nice grind house style. I remember reading a bunch of negative reviews of Halloween 2 when it first came out, maybe the horror press has grown tired of Zombie, but I thought Halloween 2 was a fine sequel–a lot of nice cameos, the Zombie look, interesting pacing and a bunch of twists over the original (which disposed of the original’s plot after the first fifteen minutes). No new ground was broken, but I do enjoy how most of Zombie’s so-called good guys are not much better than the bad guys. Basically, I’m a sucker for his look. He knows when to pulp it up and when to pull back.

So, I realized Halloween is on the way and I’m feeling more in a horror mood. October is easily my favorite month of the year. Hopefully, I can load up on a bunch the next two weekends. After combing all the movie channels, there’s not much playing I haven’t seen already (although AMC is making a good run at it this year), so it’s off to the dark reaches of Netflix streaming. (The Roku box does have a few all-horror channels, but they’re pay and the movies are mostly Z-list. More research is needed.)

The best thing I liked The New York Ripper, an Italian slasher film, is all the shots of New York City circa 1982. I was in NYC in 1985 and the film looks like how I remember the city—The Staten Island Ferry, the grimy graffiti-covered subway, the sleazy porn district, the weird peeling apartments. And of course, just the clothes and hairstyles of the people who live there. It’s strange how we remember places we only been to years ago. It’s like Brooklyn still looks like it does in Do the Right Thing. It doesn’t, but memory messes with you.

Plus the high-def transfer of a low grade film made all the griminess pop more. Maybe I should go back and watch After Hours.

The New York Ripper has many of the trappings of Italian horror of the time, the overdubbed English, narrative cull-de-sacs, eye gouging, many suspects, graphic violence and plenty of full frontal nudity.

So, out of the gate a win. Director Fulci made one of my favorite horror movies of all time, The Beyond, so while Ripper didn’t live up to the gore and strangeness of that film, it is a pretty decent Gallo with heavy sexual underpinnings.

The New York Ripper is crazed madmen who slashes pretty young women while quacking like a duck. The killings start out as standard TV fare with a hard boiled detective trying to track down the killer with the help of a college professor. Kind of yawn. But after the first third, Fulci starts to follow other, almost random characters, a creepy hustler and a sexually dangerous rich woman. Suddenly, there’s a live sex show, the worst place to put a broken bottle and toe sex. Lots of anonymous stranger toe sex.
Then the red herrings start piling on and the movie turned into a full-blown mystery by the beginning of the third act, the point where the detective thinks he has the right guy. The killer at this point could literally be any character still alive.
Of course, by the end, all is explained and the killer’s motive ends up being pretty unique. He quacked like a duck while he slashed young ladies FOR A REASON. Neat.

If you’re not a fan of Italian horror, especially Gallo, The New York Ripper won’t make you a fan, but if you’re a fan of late ’70’s/early ’80’s slasher pics, the Ripper should satisfy the itch, bad English dubbing and all.

Kind of Black Christmas meets Serpico.

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Parasomnia (2008)

Feeling thinky last night I sat down to watch the French drama Seven Days. Ten minutes in and the rape and murder of an 8 year old girl later, I was more depressed than thinky, so I switched to the Lovecraftian sounding horror movie Parasomnia. (I know I said a few days ago, I like horror movies that aren’t afraid to off a child, but dramas are a different story. Child murder can both be a cliche and too hard a story to do right. Plus, there will be zero levity in this seven days story.)

I had weaker reasons to watch a movie, but watching a movie just so you can learn a new word, the title, probably isn’t the strongest endorsement for a movie. Parasomnia is a disease, according to the movie (although WebMD doesn’t really bear this out), where you sleep all the time, like 90% of your life. Admittedly, this sounds like the best possible disease to contract if you had to contract a life-crushing disease.

The film starts with noted Hollywood nutcase Sean Young casually walking off a skyscraper to her grisly death. She’s barely mentioned in the rest of the movie and doesn’t appear again. I believe every movie should start this way, it keeps her employed and guarantees a crowd-pleaser right up top of every movie. The Godfather, Out of Africa, Up, every Batman movie—improved by Sean Young’s grisly unexplained death up top. Look into it Hollywood.

The story concerns Danny, an art student and 60’s record collector, and his growing infatuation with the impossibly adorable Laura, a parasomnia sufferer locked up in the world’s laxest mental hospital. Of course next to her room is a Hannibal Lector like mesmerist named Volpe, hooded and chained after a string of hypnotist-related murders. He’s evil incarnate and he’s next door. Like I said, world’s most lax security. The hypnotist/mesmerist is entering Laura’s dreamscape nightly and trying to control her. You know, standard movie stuff. You’ve seen the X-Files.

So, Danny’s visiting his recovering junkie friend when he sees Laura. (Yes, sleep disorders, rehab and serial killers all on the same floor.) Within two days, he’s kidnapped her (um, a felony) and moved her back into his apartment. The problem with an attractive young woman who’s been asleep 90 percent of her life is that she has the intelligence and personality of a beagle puppy. Seriously, she scoots around in the grass and rubs ice cream on her face. (Fortunately for the audience, this leads to topless sponge bath clean-ups.)
Oh, and she violently murders people under Volpe’s psychic projections in her sleep. That’s a problem.

This modestly budgeted film has a Lovecraft/steam punk vibe and generally looks good. There’s even a steam punk art show held by Lector, ur, Volpe at the end of the film. The movie does have some decent character actors in it besides the aforementioned Sean Young including Timothy Bottoms, Jeffery Combs, and a cameo by Allison Brie (Community, Mad Men) and director Joe Landis.

A note to any movie about Jeffery Combs (Re-Animator, other awesome horror movies): If you use Jeffery Combs in your movie, make sure he goes batshit crazy at some point. That’s what he does best. No one chews the scenery better than Combs. Crazed scientist is his specialty. In Parasomnia, Combs plays a cop and plays it straight until almost the end. C’mon, twitchy, unhinged, arrogant and paranoid is what he does. Not low-key energy and stoic cop.

Low-key energy is how I’d describe the first two-thirds of the film. The film doesn’t really catch fire until the last part. This is due mainly to the guy playing Danny. He’s not bad and certainly be fine in a best friend role, but he’s just not interesting enough (even when he’s committing multiple felonies) to hold the main role. The girl who plays Laura (an ‘introducing’ credit) does better, but does better because she’s suppose to be dumb, innocent and a bit flat, but she sure is adorable. (One pet peeve movie: why does Laura always have lip gloss and make-up on? In dream sequences? Coming out of a long coma? Underwater?)

One thing I like about moderately budgeted horror movies is they generally have the freedom to pursue the kind or horror they want to do, more creative freedom. As a reviewer, they also generally have very identifiable strengths and weaknesses. A miscast actor really stands out, or poor lighting or an effect. Also, you can see because of budget, the director put all his eggs in a particular strength in a film, a quality actor, a sequence, the script. Rarely with a smaller budget does every area of the film get the same high effort. So, this is another note to small budget horror films (and this film didn’t have a tiny budget because it generally looked good and had some name character actors): STOP USING CGI! You’re not Avatar, be creative with set work and physical effects, even old school optical effects can get the job done better. Parasomnia uses CGI for all of Laura’s dreamscape scenes and it looks really fakey, as does 90 percent of CGI in movies with a budget under 20 million. Funny thing is, all of the movie’s physical effects—the throat slashing, gut spilling, head exploding kind—all look great. Then the CGI shows up and it’s like we’re in a video from the 80’s waiting for Night Ranger to show up. And everything they did in the dreamscape could have certainly done as a physical effect with some creativity.

Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of CGI as my first thought is almost always, “Hey, that’s CGI, not ‘that’s awesome.'” When ever some guy’ss head is blown off with a shotgun with the old exploding blood melon head you’ve seen a hundred times, I almost always buy it instantly even if upon further, later inspection, I spot flaws. That never happens with CGI.

Overall, a mixed recommendation for Parasomnia. There’s some interesting visual style in the film, the villain is well played, the physical effects are good and there’s a few surprises. On the down side, some poor performances, a few big plot holes and bad CGI. It ain’t the pathos of Lovecraft.

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Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009)

Let’s deconstruct the title first. Who wouldn’t want to see Zombies of Mass Destruction? Though, the movie came out in 2009, so the whole “…of Mass Destruction” joke is about 6 years too late. It’s the “Got Milk?” of the 2000. In the film’s defense, it’s set in 2003 and is a satire of sorts. The cheesy title (although IMBD says another Zombies of Mass Destruction is coming out in 2011 and unrelated to this one) made me want to see it, not see it, than see it again. With low-budget horror, the title is 90 percent of the marketing.

Late at night, I often want to zone out to a zombie movie. Netflix streaming has a ton of them, all with a decent poster and no budget. I’ll start watching and usually give up after 15 minutes. Here’s why: the lighting sucks, the audio’s all badly looped and the actor’s are obviously just the director’s friends. And everyone plays a stupid redneck. Look, I’m not looking for Avatar and except new film maker mistakes like poor editing and some sloppy story-telling. But, it should have a tiny bit of technical competence.

So, image my surprise, ZoMD is fairly competently made. It’s a small budget flick, but it’s all on the screen. The acting’s okay. And it’s a satire. That’s why we make zombie movies—gore, humans screwing up, and satire.

The movie’s sort of a red state/blue state thing, firmly siding on the liberal side. Our heros are an Iranian girl and a gay couple. Besides the tiny sub-genre of gay horror, never are the heros gay and never, never Iranian-Americans. I like that. These are the side kicks who are killed off early in other movies.
Yes, the caricatures all a bit broad, but not offensive. There’s the Republican, preacher, flaky liberal teacher, love struck teen, stoner, conservative Iranian dad, and true-blue American torturer dad and a fox-like news network. Their conflicts are played out, broadly, because some think the zombies are caused by terrorists and others see it as God’s Armageddon. There’s even a political debate during a zombie attack with one side turning into a zombie.

The story takes place on a small Washington island over, as in most zombie flicks, the course of a night. The first third of the film, the zombie’s are lurking singularly in the back ground. No one notices them. That’s funny. It isn’t until night there’s enough of them to cause trouble.

The gay couple is returning to the closeted one’s home to tell his mom he’s gay. The good side, if you’re mom turns into a zombie at dinner, she doesn’t care if your gay. Fighting zombies can strengthen any relationship. (Also, if I were gay, I’d totally be the kind to get an ‘I’m with him’ T-Shirt like the closeted one’s partner.)

Everyone thinks the Iranian girl is Iraqi and a terrorist, of course, she’s all-American, but her hard-working dad is a more conservative Muslim. She spends the evening trying to convince people she’s not a terrorist.

And fighting zombies. After all, isn’t a zombie movie all about the zombie fighting. After a slow start, there’s plenty of fun zombie killing. The effects are pretty decent and don’t fall into the zombie beginners effect of just doing the same effect over and over. There’s some unique kills, but nothing super elaborate or a set-piece. You can tell everyone involved at least worked on other projects beside this one.

Oh, the movie did have one plot that almost always like a horror movie. A cute young kid is introduced as someone the hero has to protect. Usually, the kid is okay at the end of the movie. However, if a movie kills the moppet, it’s an automatic thumbs up from me. Yea, it’s stupid. In ZoMD, they introduce a little girl and she dies 30 seconds later, horribly. But later she gets to be a zombie, carrying her own arm. Awesome.

Is ZoMD a great zombie movie? No. Is it good? Not particularly. But if you like zombie movies or broad satire, ZoMD is certainly worth seeing. It’s well-executed and has a decent script. Better than most.

Hey, they’re making a sequel. Can’t be all bad.

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The Kingdom Series 2 (1997)

Kinda lazy today. I recently finished the Swedish TV miniseries The Kingdom which I talked about the beginning here.
In that review, I compared the emerging plot lines to a really strange paper Role Playing Game. After seeing all that Lars Von Triers had filmed on The Kingdom, the strangeness is ratcheted up ten fold.

There was to be a series 3, but a few key actors had died. Triers sent the season 3 scripts to Stephen King for the American version of The Kingdom, but ABC canceled season one in 2004 after just a few episodes. Too weird for the states even with King’s name attached. I did see it was on DVD, so I may seek it out.

I don’t have much more to say about the series after what I wrote before, but I did watch all 11 hours of sepia-toned Swedes and their (here it comes) shenanigans.

So, just some highlight to clue you in on how odd the whole thing was.

—A doctor wants the world’s largest diseased liver to research. The family wouldn’t sign the death consent form, so he has the organ donated to himself (as the organ donor card was signed), so he could own the liver. The surgery goes bad, he’s stuck with the liver. (in The Twilight Zone)

—A woman has sex with a man she didn’t know was a ghost, possibly The Devil. She gives birth to a baby who has a grown man’s head (Udo Kier) and can talk. The baby grows at a rate so astounding, his arms and legs are 10 feet long after just a few days, very brittle. The baby begs to die. The mom, after much agonizing, releases the baby from the large rigging holding him up and kills him when all the bones snap. Pretty cool.

Um, wow, that was probably the weirdest plot line. But every one of the twenty or so characters had strange stuff going on and to the shows credit, it all kind of worked because the production was pretty low-key and all the smaller moments were kept real.

If those two story lines interested you, check out The Kingdom on Netflix streaming. I can’t possibly see how the giant man-baby plot line would work in America (although, strangely enough, I saw Lake Bell give birth to Nick Kroll on Children’s Hospital the same week.)

It’s vacation time.

Going into low power for the next week and a half. Hopefully some game reviews to come.

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Carriers (2009) or why I hate modern PG-13 horror

And it isn’t because there’s no nudity or much gore. A lot of classic horror movies would be PG13 movies today, most of Hitchcock’s oeuvre, the Hammer Horror films, Jaws. Also, television is mostly PG13 and there’s plenty of quality adult fare on TV.

And that’s the word I’m looking for, adult. PG13 movies are made pre-teens (Heck, most teenagers watch R rated fare). This means the story lines and story telling has to be dumbed down for the audience. I know I’m not saying anything new here, it’s just I saw a good rating for Carriers on Netflix and decided I was being hard on PG13 horror. It wasn’t until I was bored stiff midway through the movie that this occurred to me.
You don’t need heads exploding like watermelons or girls running around showing their watermelons to make a good movie, you just need interesting characters, writing and plot. (Oh and many a bad movie has been lauded for it’s numerous watermelons which was just there to patch over a crappy film)
Also, the pay cable stations need daytime programming, so PG13 horror will always have money thrown at it to fill time. So they’ll always look better than many of their more adventurous R-rated content. And Carriers looked like it had a decent budget, it was just so stripped down to appeal to people who have never seen this type of movie. It lacked the details that make a good horror (or any) a rich world. You could drop in at any point in the film and not miss anything or even feel like you missed anything.
I was flipping through cable the other night and stopped on Couple’s Retreat (because, well, Kristen Bell in a bikini) and although the film was two-thirds done, I was caught up in 5 minutes because the characters kept repeating the skimpy plot and fit into such pre-defined molds. It was both depressing and a waste of all of those good, slumming actors.
That’s how practically every movie that runs on HBO at 2pm is, a generic genre film that could be dropped in on at any time.
It’s funny, even though TV is filled with all kinds of generic tropes, I almost never just start watching a show midway through it’s run. But I have no problem with that and the more generic pay cable movies.
Maybe it’s a strange bias, but I’d never watch a movie mid-way through, pre 1980. And this includes the MST3K-bad sci-fi movies, as they may be bad, but at least they were awful in interesting ways. But rarely generic and rote.

That poster is probably the most frightening thing in the movie, it at least let’s you use your imagination. However, Carriers, leaves little to the imagination. Fortunately, there’s little plot to explain and almost no detail to create the world. There’s been a worldwide pandemic, most people have died from a contagious disease, blah, blah, blah. Ok, here’s where detail is important, what are the details of this new apocalypse? How are the survivors surviving? The details are how the director comments on who we are today. Look at Children of Men, Goddamn, did that movie create a whole new dystopia through detail. But here we just get the broadest of broad strokes. Empty highways, rotted out farm houses, etc. Ugh.
Of course, being a PG13 aimed, I suppose, at pre-teens the cast are four twenty-somethings. The douche (Chris Pine post Star Trek so guess who’s featured most prominately), the weaker younger brother who’s the obvious eventual survivor (gee, does he stand up to his brother?), his girl friend and the hidden infected (the biggest zombie movie/disease movie trope).
They run into other infected people, abandon them, all act a bit like jerks, but fortunately, Chris Pine overshadows them. The cast is trying to get to their childhood vacation spot to run away from the infected. Guess who makes it and guess what, it’s changed. Ugh.

There’s no beat or plot point I haven’t seen before and seen better in other movies. I actually stopped 45 minutes in and watched the rest later, just so I could complain about PG13 horror movie. So, so generic, how did it get such a good rating on Netflix?

The only good parts, Chris Meloni and the girl who plays Sally Draper on Mad Men as an infected family (why couldn’t the movie follow them instead of the whiny, douchy cast. I’ve seen that movie before as well, but it’s a class above generic)

Oh, they played an M Ward song I liked for ten seconds.

See, I’m not a total hater.

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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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