MARCH 24, 2013
Remember that show Cold Case, where that lady with the terrible hair would solve old crimes? I want to do that, but the "crimes" would be limited to the cinematic disappearances of guys who made movies like Honeymoon Horror. I'd go around the country, tracking down leads and finding these guys and picking their brains (just need to figure out how to monetize it). Writer/director Harry Preston and co-writer L.L. Carney have one film to their name (this one, obviously), and the same goes for pretty much everyone in the cast (one of the girls also appeared in an episode of Dallas), making this a total mystery compared to other slashers of the era, which have been treated to special edition DVDs thanks to places like Code Red and Shout Factory. Where did these folks go? Why did they never make another movie? What were they thinking when they wrote a slasher movie without a prominent female character to root for?
Here's what we DO know: the movie was apparently a big hit for Sony, as it was one of the first direct to video movies (!) and never released on traditional sell-through, supposedly raking in over 20 million in rentals (probably due to the awesome cover, not the actual movie). We can't verify that, as far as I know; nor can we prove the lone entry in the film's "alternate versions" list: "An original "Director's Cut" of the film exists, without the "Sheriff" scenes, which were added later by Malcolm Whitman.". I don't doubt it; before I even read that I was wondering if his scenes were added to pad the runtime since he never interacts with the rest of the cast and his scenes are beyond pointless, and with an M.H. Wittman listed as the film's editor, it's believable (and like everyone else, Wittman has no other credits to his name).
We also know it was shot in two weeks on a noisy location, but the film itself is proof of that. The ADR is laughably bad in the exterior scenes (and even in some of the interiors), to the point where I wondered if some scenes were just shot without any sound at all. And like most films shot in a short period, there's a LOT of padding and "master" scenes, where things like a fight between two characters plays out all in one shot, even when they stumble out of frame entirely. Most of it takes place in a very bland house, said to be a honeymoon resort on a secluded island but looking more like a bed & breakfast just off a main road in New Hampshire or something. It's also RUN like a B&B; the owners are constantly chatting with and bringing things to the couples who are supposedly on their wedding nights - you get the impression that if a killer hadn't shown up and started (very slowly) offing them all, they would be taking them on a nature hike or horseback riding or something.
Let's talk about these two: Elaine and Vic. When the film begins, they're having a romp while Elaine's husband is supposed to be out, only for him to come home early and catch them. The two begin to fight, and Elaine jumps in to protect Vic, resulting in the husband being knocked out cold and lit on fire from a knocked over candle. They opt to just leave rather than help the guy, assuming that he's already dead, and some time later they have turned their home into this resort. And these are our sort of heroes! Three couples show up and have their own little subplots, but the focus remains on these two, who are hilariously nonchalant about what they did. Hell, Vic even busts her balls about it the way one might tease their spouse about the time they left the garage door open all day or something, plus he's constantly leering at the newlywed women as well as a trio of sorority girls that appear in the first act, helping them get the place ready for their arrival.
The killer makes short work of them (albeit mostly off-screen), but then there's only a single other death in the next 50 minutes or so, which is weird for a 1982 slasher as they already had a ton of competition (whereas the early, post-Halloween/pre-Friday ones could be expected to have a low body count). In fact, with the burned madman plot and emphasis on male characters over females, I have to believe that this was a direct ripoff of The Burning more than any of the others, so you're dealing with a copy (this) of a copy (Burning) of a copy (Friday the 13th) of the original (Halloween). And as we learned from Multiplicity, a copy of a copy loses quite a bit of the original's flavor - now we're ANOTHER generation below. And we never even get a good look at the killer until the final showdown, as there's a dumb, never successful attempt to make it seem like the resort's handyman (Joe) is the killer, so they hide him from sight - even after Joe is captured and locked up, thus proving to us that he's not the guy! They just assume he got loose rather than bother to check, and whoever the hell directed this thinks we're dumb enough to believe it's the guy they SAID it was while we hopefully just assume that the opening sequence was nothing but character development.
He's also too choosy with victims - he only goes after the women (and Vic, at the very end), which not only lends it a bit of misogyny (the last thing a slasher needs, since even though a woman is always the one to save the day the feminists still think they're all about men killing women and nothing more) but also kills the pace. No advantage is taken from having four couples in four different rooms; as soon as the first girl is killed the others are all aware of it and go into panic mode, never splitting up for time-honored "goes off alone and gets killed" action. Plus, one of the guys looks just like Vic and two of the girls look a lot alike, making it a bit confusing at times thanks to the non-marvels of a murky VHS tape (which I acquired as a prize at horror trivia the other night!). And the on-screen kills suck; Honeymaniac (my name; it's better than his, which is either Jeff or Frank depending on the scene) usually just taps someone with his axe and then they cut to a prop arm or whatever sliding across the floor. The fake blood looks pretty good though; I watched Futureworld today as well and that had that melted pink crayon looking stuff so this was a sight for sore eyes.
But damn my eyes, I can't help but like it, despite all of the above. I don't know what it is about this era of slasher movies, but I can't really hate on any of them, and even with the slow pace I was never really bored. The horrid dialogue kept me laughing throughout; I particularly liked the guy who told his wife he had to go practice his weightlifting on their wedding night (which in any other movie would result in the now isolated man being clubbed to death with his own barbells, but not Honeymoon Horror! He lives, as do all the other males save Vic), and all of the conversations about making coffee and where the various items (the sugar, the cups) are located. But the real gem here are the extended conversations between the Sheriff and his deputy (the ones added into the movie by Wittman), particularly the ones where one will repeat every single line to the other while on a phone call or something. And that's nothing compared to the endless epilogue, where they finally get off their ass and head out to the resort to check on things, chatting the entire time about nothing and inquiring about plot points for which we already know the answer. Then they find out that Honeymaniac's body is missing, which leads to an instant red herring, as the deputy calls and says he found Joe cradling the body, apparently quite upset about the whole thing. The Sheriff demands he bring them back to the station, but Joe apparently insists on burying the murderer's body himself... and the Sheriff agrees! Then he wards off a NEW newlywed couple by firing his gun into the air five times as some Dukes of Hazzard-y good ol' boy music begins to play and the credits finally roll, 10+ minutes after the last horror thing happened. I was watching alone and laughing like a loon; I can't imagine how infectious and amazing it would be to see such nonsense with a crowd.
Oh, and at one point the other two husbands knock out the 3rd after he finds his wife dead and begins freaking out, and leave his body on the floor next to her corpse while they discuss their next move. So awesome.
And would it surprise you to discover that this thing has never been released on DVD? It shouldn't. I'm curious if it ever even had a print to work from, though I've certainly seen worse VHS transfers, which gives me hope that there's a 35 or 16mm print somewhere, waiting to be discovered and hopefully draw anyone from its cast and crew out of exile. Naturally there's no trailer on Youtube so enjoy this guy making a taco.
What say you?