on September 19, 2000
A unique blend of giallo and ghost story/tale of madness, Hatchet for the Honeymoon is quite an entertaining trifle. The plotting is careless, what with the police inspector showing up at just the right moment at least three times too many, but Mario Bava's many visual and editing flourishes are so clever they're downright witty. I particularly like the way the psycho, John Herrington, literally puts his wife at a distance by looking at her through the wrong end of his binoculars while she harangues him. Also wonderful is a transition where the camera pans across a line of mannequin heads that seem to float against the black background of a darkened room. The camera stops at the final head, which we realize with a start is Herrington, and we hear a woman's voice speaking. There's a momentary sense of dizzying disorientation before the camera suddenly continues its pan and we see the woman speaking and realize that we're in a different scene now. There's also a bit worthy of Hitchcock at his best involving a single drop of blood poised to drop from a dead woman's hand that threatens to expose Herrington while he's being questioned by the police. The picture and sound quality of the DVD is not in the same league as other movies in the Bava Collection such as Black Sunday or Black Sabbath, but it's safe to assume that Image did the best they could with the best source material they could find. Overall, perhaps not among Bava's very best films, but still more than worthwhile for those who appreciate imaginative, well-crafted filmmaking.
on May 29, 2013
[Hatchet For The Honeymoon - 1969 - Widescreen - English - 88 minutes] The HD blu ray treatment of this film is certainly worth the upgrade for all Mario Bava aficianados - the picture quality is superb, the colors rich and vibrant, the contrast uncanny for a film this old. Over and over again while I was watching I had to remark to myself how gorgeous it was, unlike a lot of other blu ray flicks I 'upgraded' lately. The audio, however, is a slightly different story - it appears that with each new reel of film, there's an abundance of snap, crackle, and popping and some hiss for around 20 seconds before it clears up. After that, it's fine. A minor distraction, but worth the trade for the video brilliance offered.
Not technically a gaillo, due to the fact that we know the killer's identity within three minutes as he gives an internal monologue declaring his psychological dilemma and love for killing women, this is still Bava working full throttle, though not necessarily paving new roads with this film. It's very different from his 'Bay of Blood', from the following year which, along with Sergio Martino's 'Torso', ushered in the slasher film about six years before John Carpenter's 'Halloween'. This is more like his other 60's film's, psychological horror without the gothic feel, yet the goth elements are evident everywhere - the lead's wife is a spiritualist, the elaborate castle manor they live in, the creepy mannequins that dreadfully dominate and dictate his desire to kill, and the childhood murder that haunts him currently, puzzle pieces of which he still can't come to grips with all play out with elaborate visual splendor, as Bava also plays cinematographer as well as director.
Stephen Forsyth is excellent as the stylish, good-looking psychopath married to a shrew of a woman (Laura Betti) who won't grant him a divorce, as she holds the financial pursestrings, and makes his life more hellish than it already is considering all the emotional baggage he's burdened with. Dagmar Lassander is always a treat to watch, and was popular in around a half-dozen gailli and trailblazing Euro-exploitation films ('The Frightened Woman', 'Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion' and 'Black Emmanuelle' come to mind), and there are a few other comely Eurobabes to keep your attention riveted to the sumptuous visuals as Bava does his thing, which is, for me, always fascinating to watch. And the cat-and-mouse game with the police inspector (Jesus Puente) adds to the fun, though we've seen it done before, by both Bava and his contemporaries. Of which he had few.
Another entertaining example of a genre created by this master of the macabre, 'Hatchet' may be slight on gruesome gore and arterial bloodspatter, but is a classic example of the 'less is more' old-school psychological horror prevalent back in the 60's. Bava would turn this genre around and reinvent it again with his next adventurous film, but here he plays it safe. Assuming that the serial-killing of new brides and being haunted by a ghost is your idea of safe. 4 stars.
on February 6, 2002
As always, my review is based on the QUALITY of the DVD.
I appreciate Image Entertainment giving us the opportunity to view "Hatchet for the Honeymoon" and another work of Mario Bava to observe. It is remarkable that we have this new entertainment medium and that we can enjoy these films from so long ago. But -- this DVD is the worst one that I own. The picture is lousy and the sound is awful. You get the 1.66:1 screen ratio, but that wouldn't be so bad if the picture was CLEAR. I'm not sure if this was released prematurely. Just take into consideration my review of picture + sound to make your decision if you really want to buy this. In addition, it comes in a snap-case although there are some notes within.
Volume is at an all-time low. I had to crank up my speaker and software volume to the maximum and still had trouble hearing the dialogue. You could not possibly eat potato chips and listen to this at the same time!
The movie itself is pretty good, perhaps worthy of three stars. Some good points: a nice, recurring love/fantasy theme music or melody. Perhaps the love theme is derived from the bridal costumes and weddings. Parts of the movie are quite haunting. There are no luscious beauties here at all found in other Bava films; the women are rather plain with the exception of what appears to be one beautiful, tall Black woman walking by (quick) and an extremely nice, long pair of legs close-up.
While the theme music is pleasant, there are nauseating guitar sequences during action shots. Horror buffs and people who crave gore will not find either in this movie. Own this only if you are serious about building a Mario Bava collection (I am).
on September 22, 2012
This is from Mario Bava's middle period, when his work becomes more "tongue-in-cheek." It doesn't have the same level of intensity, or belief, as Black Sunday or Black Sabbath or Whip and the Body or Blood and Black Lace. The plot could have made for a good Giallo thriller but Bava pushes it towards the comic or absurd. What is interesting though is the way Bava - serving as his own cinematographer - experiments with the visuals, including the use (perhaps overuse) of the zoom lens. Some of the visuals are first-rate, and the new DVD/Blu-Ray release does them justice. So too does Tim Lucas who provides his usual excellent audio commentary. Glad to see Bava finally coming out on Blu-Ray! Can't wait to see Bava's color Giallo thrillers get the Blu-Ray treatment they so rightfully deserve. (I only hope that when they are eventually released they come with multiple language/subtitle options. The English dubbed films are usually poorly done and quite distracting. It's too bad that Hatchet for the Honeymoon doesn't allow one to watch it in Italian.)
on April 18, 2016
This film is known as The Red Mark of Madness, Blood Brides and An Axe for the Honeymoon - it's a pretty good movie that will leave you guessing about a few things in the end. After watching the film, I read a handful of reviews and discussions on the film and there are a couple of takes on what actually happened - both of which I was thinking of when I was watching it.
Two ideas on the ghost:
1) The ghost of the dead wife was real. She really did appear to others and later on him.
2) The ghost of the dead wife was all in his mind - including others seeing and speaking of the (dead) wife. In other words, he imagined others taking about seeing her, he imagined the coffee being poured for his dead wife and he imagined the wife's sherry on the table. All was in his mind.
The murders must have been real and not imagined by John. Overall a good thriller I enjoyed watching.
on January 8, 2016
Probably not the best Bava film, the flavor of it reminds me of "Blood and Black Lace, Kill Baby Kill," and "The Whip and the Body". There's a satirical element to the film, which will remind many of "American Psycho". John Harrington owns a fashion house, and is tormented by his estranged, cold wife. He also witnessed the murder of his mother as a child and relives it by killing brides to make sense as to who was responsible, and he is playing cat and mouse with a detective who suspects him, but can't find the evidence to capture him. Stephen Forsyth manages to be tormented, yet cold and detached for most of the film. There's a few nice touches, a ghost that everyone else can see by John. As well as a sequence where John is watching a horror film in TV. Bava's own "Black Sabbath". This features many of the obsessions seen in other Bava films, and does riff off of the same themes in Hitchcock's "Psycho". Bave's cinema photography remains stellar as always. While not essential, for Bava completists it's worth your while.
on December 18, 2013
I've seen most of Bava's horror outings and the more I rewatch them, the more entertaining they become. They all have the same mix of interesting photography, stylish decor, and beautiful people confronted with murder or supernatural mayhem. They also contain deep wells of black humor (not necessarily camp, but sometimes present) that might not initially sink in on first viewing. That's why this one has grown on me. It offers up an almost Anti-Patrick Bateman - a handsome narcissistic playboy psycho presented as a an almost emasculated, pathetic flop. His sad attempts to rid his life of the spectral presence of his overbearing, ball-busting wife was a great plot development. The movie is gratifying by seeing the killer so tormented. He's in hell before he even gets there!
on August 27, 2000
Bava's intriguing and original twist on the Italian giallo (a genre he had pretty much invented with Evil Eye and Blood and Black Lace) with an empathic view towards the killer (who is never hidden like in other thrillers but revealled right at the start). However, this is not a harrowing portrait of perversity like Henry:Portrait of a Serial Killer or even Psycho. Bava's colourful compositions and beautiful cinematography give the proceedings a decidedly playful appeal - and his surreal flashbacks whenever the killer strikes avoids the use of on-screen gore. His use of voice-overs in the opening is inspired, as our 'hero' ponders his madness, what drives him to kill, etc. All this is delivered with a suitible ironic european flavour that non-Bava fans may be rather baffled by.
It's a shame that 'Hatchet' didn't receive the sort of dvd treatment 'Black Sunday' or 'Lisa & the Devil' got from Image, but it's a solid addition to any collection of Bava's work or fans of early Italian horror. The image quality looks reasonable enough, but the sound quality is rather distracting, although perfectly audible. Of course there aren't any extras.
Mario Bava's HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON opens w/ a bloody double murder of a newlywed couple on a train. we are introduced to the killer, John Harrington, who tells us that he's a paranoid murderer, a madman in fact. John is a dashing young fashion-designer, specializing in bridal attire. He's also every bit as insane as he says he is! He likes to visit his mannequin-bride collection in their special room. He REALLY likes these mannequins! This room is where he keeps his meat-cleaver (there is no hatchet in this film). It's where he most likes to take his victims. Oh, and John enjoys puttering around in his hothouse, where several of his victims are used as human fertilizer. John's wife is almost as batty as he is, and she's very involved w/ spiritualism and channeling dead people. Her name is Mildred, and she's insufferable! She's also rich, and John loves her money. He finally gains enough courage to give Mildred the cleaver treatment, only to be haunted by her shrewish ghost, or is it just his insane imagination? HONEYMOON is full of absurd situations and hilariously crazy dialogue! It's also loads of fun to watch! Just wait until you see John in his veil and lipstick! The soundtrack is ultra-groovy as well w/ lots of mod, electric twanging going on! Watch this right now!... P.S.- This re-mastered version looks spectacular! Flawless!...
Italian director Mario Bava (1914-1980) is one of the giants of the horror film genre. His films, no matter what the plot, always promised great style mixed with scenes of murder and mayhem. Bava's big break into the industry came with his 1960 black and white classic "Black Sunday" starring fan favorite Barbara Steele. This was only the beginning, as Bava churned out a series of gruesome shockers over the next seventeen years. Perhaps Mario's biggest contribution to the horror field was his 1972 picture "Twitch of the Death Nerve," also known as "Bay of Blood." It doesn't take too long to realize "Friday the 13th" shamelessly cribbed from Bava's bloodbath. The director's inventiveness goes far beyond hacking up a few unfortunate souls, however, as "Hatchet for the Honeymoon" shows. This is a relatively bloodless movie that attempts to rework the always entertaining Italian giallo formula, a movie that is a wildly inventive jaunt into the inner recesses of a mind twisted by insanity. Mario Bava is no longer with us, much to my regret, but the Bava legacy continues with son Lamberto, one of the guiding lights behind "Demons," an instant cult favorite with gorehounds worldwide.
I've seen quite a few Bava films at this point, and I have to say I think "Hatchet for the Honeymoon" one of his best. It's the story of John Harrington (Stephen Forsyth), a successful designer of female wedding apparel who suffers from two big problems. First, Harrington himself is the first to admit he's completely insane. An incident in his childhood involving a shadowy memory of echoing footsteps on a staircase and the gruesome murder of his mother haunts him. In order to discover the identity of the culprit behind this infernal crime Harrington decides he must murder woman with a small hatchet, a rather unpleasant situation all around. Each murder uncovers a bit more of the memory, and as Harrington ups his body count he comes closer and closer to revealing the identity of the person who took his mother's life. Second, and probably the biggest immediate problem, is his wife Mildred (Laura Betti). Theirs is a loveless marriage held together by Mildred's threats to leave and take her money with her, money that revived John's faltering business. Mildred also suspects John of infidelity, although she doesn't know anything about his true motivations for picking up women.
How crazy is John Harrington? Quite crazy. Every time he dispatches a victim, Inspector Russell (Jesus Puente) shows up at the house to ask a lot of pointed questions. It becomes clear rather quickly that this cop knows Harrington is behind the disappearances, but can't do anything for a lack a proof. But the good inspector doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Harrington's increasing insanity. What really sends our man over the edge, what really makes us aware of how far gone this guy really is, occurs when he decides he can no longer abide the presence of his wife Mildred. In a chilling scene that will probably stay with me long after the rest of the film fades away, John dons a wedding veil, along with some lipstick, and chases his dearly beloved down with the aforementioned hatchet. And wouldn't you know it? Russell happens to show up right after the conclusion of the dastardly deed. Harrington escapes through mere luck only to discover his crime has the sort of lasting consequences he never intended. And as John pursues his final victim, model Helen Wood (Dagmar Lassander), he finally learns whose footsteps he heard padding up that staircase, and who it was that killed his mother.
I absolutely adored "Hatchet for the Honeymoon." Everything worked like a charm to create a truly creepy, atmospheric horror film. Stephen Forsyth is great as the massively unhinged Harrington. Here's a guy who is a successful, good looking, cultured chap on the surface, but inside he's gone stark raving mad. It's to the actor's credit that he manages to convey all of these divergent traits at the same time. What really makes the film a winner is the style. Bava effectively uses flashbacks, lighting, camera tricks, and set pieces to craft a truly frightening film. The somber environment of Harrington's house, replete with a special little room full of mannequins wearing wedding gowns, serves as the centerpiece for most of the unfolding madness. Those flashbacks, with the booming footsteps and screaming woman, send chills down your spine even as you figure out exactly what happened to Harrington's mother long before the final denouement. The best stylistic element of the film is the clangy, driving score. It's haunting and creepy without going over the top. Bava fortunately doesn't overuse his background music, something that I cannot say for many of the other Italian horror masters.
Sadly, the mediocre picture and audio quality on the DVD nearly upset the effect of the film. There is no excuse for such a pedestrian transfer to disc; I know for a fact there are thousands of Bava fans out there that would willingly pay good money for a better quality DVD. The shoddy treatment afforded "Hatchet for the Honeymoon" recalls unpleasant memories of the audio problems on "The Twitch of the Death Nerve" disc, although it is unfair to say this DVD is as bad as that one. Extras on this disc include stills and a Mario Bava biography and filmography. "Hatchet for the Honeymoon" is now my favorite Bava film, and that's saying a lot. I hope a decent DVD arrives in the near future. If you want to explore the world of Bava, this is a great place to start.