Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970)

It's funny that for all the talk about Italian horror on this blog, I have had yet to review a film from the great Mario Bava. While there were Italian genre films before him, he is often considered to be the Godfather of the genre. Sure, he did movies outside of the horror genre (westerns, spy films, gladiator movies) but for the most part, he's known for being the man who gave the world Italian horror films. One of the sub-genres he helped to popularize was the Giallo, as films like "Blood and Black Lace" and "Bay of Blood" are often considered to be important titles within the genre. Like the aforementioned "Bay", 1970's "Hatchet for the Honeymoon" is something of a twist in the formula, here being that you know who the killer is from the get go.

It's probably just me, but he looks a little like John Kerry

The killer in question is John Harrington (Stephen Forsythe), a bridal shop owner who has some serious childhood issues that cause him to take out his frustration son brides-to be, and by issues I mean he kills them. After killing his wife (Laura Betti) in a rage, John continues to try and live his life. However, he soon starts hearing voices and seeing her all over again. To make matter worse, the police seem to be investigating him, and he soon starts to further lose his mind.

Though occasionally a bit slow, "Hatchet for the Honeymoon" is a good example of how Bava was a master of his domain. Here, you get all the hallmarks of quality Italian horror (a great score, colorful visuals and solid cinematography) with some added bonuses. For starters, many of the performances are strong, with Forsythe in particular standing out. He manages to make John an creepy and disturbed individual without overdoing it with camp histrionics, and finding the right balance between overacting and delivering a solid acting job.

What's even more fascinating with the film is how it serves as both a nice twist on not only the Giallo film, but also the "Psycho" theme of repressed childhood trauma. We know that something happened to John in his childhood, and while you can probably guess it about halfway through, it still manages to be an engaging watch. It also is worth noting that, like "Bay of Blood", it really does feel like a precursor to the slasher craze. Unlike that film, it doesn't feel like an inspiration for the likes of "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" as much as it does the likes of "Maniac" and "High Tension" in that it mixes mother issues and/or sexual repression with a homicidal streak. Oh, and the ending is pretty great too.

For fans and students of Italian horror, "Hatchet for the Honeymoon" is worth a watch and adding to your library. For those wanting an introduction to Italian horror, than "Black Sunday" and "Blood and Black Lace" are better introductions, but it is a good eventual viewing. Nobody made Gothic horror the way Bava did, and you are in a treat with most of what he did.

Rating: 9/10

No comments:

Post a Comment