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Old 10-10-2004, 02:42 PM
Scored: 10
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Default Hatchet for the Honeymoon

Reviewer: Styx
Review Date: May 29, 2000

Released by: Image Entertainment
Release date: June 6, 2000
MSRP: $24.99 (OOP)
Region 0, NTSC
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: No

Image Entertainment's next entry into "The Mario Bava Collection" is none other than Hatchet for the Honeymoon - a film Bava directed in 1969. Hatchet for the Honeymoon is one of Bava's many giallos and bares many similarities to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, mainly involving the film's main character. Image Entertainment once again presents a Mario Bava film uncut and in its original theatrical aspect ratio. Let's have a look.

The Story

inline Image John Harrington (Steven Forsyth) is a man completely insane and he'd be the first to tell you! Though at first poor John found his psychotic nature annoying he's grown to enjoy it and finds it quite amusing. John's murdered young innocent women on their wedding nights and is determined to continue until he finds out the "whole truth" as he calls it. It seems in addition to John's insanity he is troubled by visions of the death of his Mother, which he witnessed as a child. Each time he murders women he remembers more of the incident and the pieces of the puzzle surrounding the identity of the killer come into focus. No one suspects John of his insanity and he is the owner of a fashion center, 'Harrington & Company', which specializes in wedding gowns, which of course is very convenient. John himself is married to an unsuspecting sadistic wife, Mildred (Laura Betti) who refuses to give John a divorce and torments him with the constant reminder that they'll always be together until death do them part- if only it were that easy. Mildred is invited to a séance and she asks John to accompany her.

inline Image That night they attend the séance and Mildred somehow manages to channel the spirit of John's dead Mother. It seems John and his Mother were very close and something awful happened to her. When John's Mother, with the help of Mildred's body, begins revealing too much about John and their relationship he demands the séance be stopped. Mildred soon receives a letter from her cousin Gladis saying she is not feeling well and asks Mildred if she can come and stay with her for a week. Mildred decides to go, but promises to return not wanting to give John the satisfaction of being by himself. Once Mildred is gone John begins to see Helen (Dagmar Lassander), a model who he recently hired to replace her sister Rosey who 'disappeared' without a trace. In reality Rosey was one of John's unfortunate victims who had a run in with his cleaver. The two go out for dinner and it becomes apparent that Helen has feelings for John and that he feels the same way. That night Mildred returns home unexpectedly and once again taunts him by saying she'll never leave him. John finally decides to rid himself of her, and she becomes his next hatchet victim.

inline Image However, John's 'separation' from his wife is not complete and she doesn't seem to want to stay dead. Mildred is seen by everyone except John who tries in vain to discard her remains in the hopes that she will disappear. Meanwhile Inspector Russell (Jesus Peunte), who's been investigating the disappearance and murders of the newlyweds, intensifies his search as more girls who work for Harrington & Company disappear. Inspector Russell believes patience is his ally and awaits John to screw up so he can close in on him. John on the other hand is unbothered by Inspector Russell's presence and is determined to solve the mystery of his Mother's murder while quenching his lust for homicide even if it means sacrificing Helen.

inline Image Hatchet for the Honeymoon is classic Mario Bava and one of my personal favorites of his films. Hatchet for the Honeymoon was Mario Bava's follow-up to the godly 'Danger: Diabolik', a big production which Bava filmed for considerably less money than its original Budget. Mario Bava returned to the low budget horror film with Hatchet for the Honeymoon, a black comedy giallo infused with a slightly Psycho flare. The film starts off with a beautifully directed murder aboard a speeding train and then opens with a spectacular voiceover by the film's protagonist a rather insane individual played beautifully by Stephen Forsyth. The character of John Harrington has a lot in common with Anthony Perkin's as Norman Bates and the similarities between the characters backgrounds are immediately apparent. That is where most of the resemblances between Psycho end, since Hatchet for the Honeymoon is a very different film than Hitchcock's masterpiece.

inline Image Hatchet for the Honeymoon, while an Italian giallo, has a very different narrative than most of its brethren. Hatchet immediately identifies the killer and the film mostly becomes a character study of a sociopath. Mario Bava takes us into the mind of serial killer John Harrington mixing stylish killings, hallucinogenic images and compelling voiceovers as John comes closer to remembering the death of his Mother and identifying her murderer through the visions he gets while slaughtering his victims. Though there are several murders in Hatchet for the Honeymoon, none of them are particularly gory and most of the violence is off camera since John begins to hallucinate when he kills. Photographed beautifully and intelligently written Hatchet for the Honeymoon is Bava at the peak of his game mixing beauty and horror as only he can.

inline Image In addition to being such an ingenious director, Mario Bava was a man with a sense of humor. Midway through Hatchet for the Honeymoon there's a cool homage to Black Sabbath, which is a real hoot to those who get the inside joke. So from a certain point of view Black Sabbath has made it to DVD . Well okay maybe not, but hopefully someday we'll get to see it in a beautiful DVD release.

Image Quality

inline Image Image Entertainment Presents Mario Bava's Hatchet for the Honeymoon letterboxed at 1.66:1 in it's original theatrical aspect ratio; the transfer is not enhanced for 16x9 viewing. The image has a few problems no doubt due to degraded source materials. There is quite a bit of print damage some of which can get pretty heavy and become a distraction. Scratches, speckling and occasional running lines from top to bottom (like in the murder scene of John's wife Mildred) are just a few of the transfer's signs of damage. Despite all this the transfer is decently sharp overall with a good amount of detail, though some of it is lost due to some visible noise and grain, but overall I didn't find it to be too bothersome. Colors and lighting looked good and nicely saturated. Hatchet for the Honeymoon could definitely use a restoration and hopefully one day it will get it, but for now this is the best I've seen Hatchet for the Honeymoon look.


Presented in Dolby Digital Mono Hatchet for the Honeymoon's score sounds very strained and at times distorted. The dialogue also has some issues when it comes to words with the letter 's' in them as I heard a bit of distortion. Given the quality of the transfer it's not surprising the sound elements are in bad shape as well.

Supplemental Material

inline Image Supplements are pretty thin on this release too. The only thing really worth mentioning is the photo gallery, which features a set of stills from the film. Also worth noting is that the disc jacket features liner notes written by Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas who provides a nice overview of Hatchet for the Honeymoon. The notes are excerpts taken from Lucas' upcoming book on Mario Bava titled "Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark". That's about it, no theatrical trailer was present.

Final Thoughts

Well another Mario Bava film has made it to DVD and that alone is cause for celebration. The presentation is a little lacking due to the worn out source materials, but overall I found the image acceptable. This is definitely a disc you won't be showing your spiffy Home Theater off with, but it belongs in every Mario Bava fan's Home Video library.


Image Quality – C+
Sound – C
Supplements – C+

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour 28 minutes
  • Color
  • Not Rated
  • 1 Disc
  • 10 Chapter Stops
  • Dolby Digital Mono
  • Still Gallery
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