John Harrington (Stephen Forsyth) is a successful, handsome, somewhat vain young man who runs a fashion studio. He's also, unfortunately, quite insane. Driven by an overpowering Oedipus complex and the recurring image of ... more »his dead wife, Harrington has a compulsion to kill women after dressing them in bridal gowns. With each murder, the root cause of his psychosis is a little closer to being fully revealed, until a long-repressed memory finally comes clear. As with many movies of the giallo genre, Bava's film is somewhat short on plot and long on style. The director's questions about a shifting surface of reality come up again and again; Harrington's obsession with fashion and his own primping can be taken as metaphors for that issue. The narrative is reeled off in a somewhat offhand manner, though, and Harrington, though tragic, is not a character with whom the audience can sympathize. The film's long suit, however, is style, and Bava's trademarks are present throughout: red- and blue-lit sets, zoom shots, gauzy flashbacks, inventive camera work and compositions. Bear with the movie's story pretensions and sluggish pace, and you'll find a giallo that, while it doesn't rank with the best of Mario Bava, still has interesting points to recommend it. --Jerry Renshaw« less
Garry Messick | Boynton Beach, FL USA | 09/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Great movie but very poor picture and terrible sound!
black_womens_network | Scottsdale, AZ United States | 02/07/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"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)."
Probably the best this movie will ever look
Charles Read | Devon, England | 08/27/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
AGED AND FADED
Anton Ilinski | Moscow, Russia | 10/07/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Hatchet for the Honeymoon" tells a story of a mentally-disturbed young man working in fashion business who's obsessed with mannequins in wedding dresses. He's a paranoid as he admits himself in the beginning of the movie and has rather strange relationship (so to say) with women in general and with his pissed-off wife. Although we may call "Hatchet..." one of the first maniac movies because there were few pictures at that time to explore the mind of a serial killer, this film also tries to be what it's not. It tries to be a slasher, a detective-story, all-in-one. Hence it gets too puzzle-headed to my opinion. I wouldn't call it a bad movie, it was rather fresh and innovative for its time but now it just looks a little faded. More to it Mario Bava had much better pictures - "Blood and Black Lace" for example. So if you're a big fan of Bava or giallo in general don't hesitate to buy it. If you're not, I'm afraid you will be a bit disappointed."
Gripping and frightening
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 10/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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. "