Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hatchet for the Honeymoon - 1970

I have reviewed several Lamberto Bava movies on here (Demons 1-3) so why not toss in a Mario Bava film?  Why not I ask you, WHY NOT?

Hatchet for the Honeymoon is a surprisingly refined looking movie, it looks crisp and high budget, although maybe because it's set in an upper class, elite neighborhood in Italy.  It never really dwells on the location, in fact with the actors and the absence of geographical landmarks, it could probably take place anywhere, and that may have been what they were going for.  A lot of these types of movies were under the impression that foreign meant bad, so they took steps to make their movies appear like they were filmed and set in America.  (Grim, however, does not fit this mold, as it was made in the 90's.  It's just stupid.)

Anyways, Hatchet starts out with an introduction to our killer.  Self-proclaimed psychopath John Harrington is a serial killer.  He has murdered 5 women at the beginning of the movie, he tells us calmly, all young women he has slaughtered on the eve of their wedding night.  Or just, whenever.  The first thing we notice is that he actually doesn't stick to this mantra, because he kills one woman once he hears she is engaged, and he kills two more, it later says, just at other random times.  He also doesn't use a hatchet, it's a cleaver.  I'm just saying.  So maybe the alternate title should've been "Cleaver for the...Uh, Lady".  Complete with the "...Uh".  We follow him as he lives in a miserable marriage, runs his bridal dress fashion business, dresses in endless ascots, and once in a while, kills a girl.

For a movie about a serial killer who is smart, interesting, and well acted, this movie did not have to be as strange as it gets to be.  This movie would've kept me interested, been good, and still held a status today, even if it hadn't gotten weird.  But it does, and to me that's bonus points.  Some mild spoilers.  John eventually decides to kill his wife.  Again, not on her honeymoon, and not with a hatchet, he kills her and then is subsequently haunted by her ghost.  It seems everyone can see her except him, they act like she's still there, we as the audience see her, dressed in black.  John can hear her too.  Maybe he has finally snapped, and is completely mad now?  Maybe he imagined killing her and she is actually still there?  It's a surprisingly well done, awesome twist.

This movie has stood the test of time well.  For 45 years old, it's interesting, fast paced, unexpected, and cool.  Great acting, interesting settings and production value. It looks great.  I have to say I was impressed with it and even though I prefer the fast paced, effects filled, schlocky 80's fluff, this movie is definitely part of that wonderful Italian horror series that includes such greats as De Laurentiis and Argento.  Perhaps not known as well, but interesting to see what other directors and other films were going on at the same time.

It's also surprisingly tame for a 70's thriller.  Looking through the ratings this film has gotten, I have to say that by today's standards this would be a PG-13 film.  Not a lot of blood, I don't really remember any nudity, no language, etc.  It's a strong statement that this film did not have those.  So all in all, good, worth a watch.

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