Italian horror movie master Mario Bava directed and photographed this bloody tale of a sexual deviant who turns to murder in order to vent his frustration and anger.
Stephen Forsyth stars as the owner of a fashion design business who murders the gorgeous women who have modeled his wedding gowns. Every murder he commits brings him closer to confronting a childhood trauma that involves a stairway, a keyhole, and the killing of his mother.
Hatchet for the Honeymoon is shot in the unique and beautiful visual style that is the hallmark of director Mario Bava.
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 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
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