Saturday, February 11, 2006

Hatchet for a Honeymoon by Mario Bava

After reading and hearing about mario Bava I finally got round to watching one of his films. The main impetus for watching was an interest in the ‘Gaillo’ genre (I quite like the old ‘Pulps’ and Gaillo (pronounced with a hard ‘g’) is the Italian equivalent; it’s even named for similar reasons, i.e. the look of the books - gaillo means yellow and this was the colour scheme of the books, yellow covers with suitably lurid illustrations) and Richard Sala is a big fan. Well, there’s only so long you can read about something before you finally dive in.
‘Hatchet For The Honeymoon’ is as stylishly and inventively shot as I’d been led to believe a Bava film could be. Interesting angles, carefully shot compositions and neat little tricks abound (lot’s of people’s faces only seen in reflections, particularly in the main character’s cleaver, was a nice touch), Bava’s grounding as a cinematographer is apparent and appreciated.
The plot is suitably bizarre and darkly humorous, the boss of a bridal fashion company murders brides to be in their gowns because each time he does a repressed memory of who killed his mother becomes clearer. The boss is creepily played by Stephen Forsyth (“My name is John Harrington, I’m thirty years old. I am a paranoiac... The fact is I am completely mad.”) a strikingly handsome man with rather cold and slightly feminine features making him an excellent casting choice even if his acting slips in a couple of scenes .
A brief subplot about his own wife haunting him turns up in the middle of the film, is dealt with, forgotten about and then resurrected near the end. I found it to be interesting but unnecessary her final scene could have been kept in without the previous scenes, and might have been a little more effective in fact. Other than that it’s a solid and very interesting film, possibly not Bava’s best but it’s got me wanting to watch more of his films.
Special mention goes to the soundtrack which had a nice ‘groovy nightclub’ track as well as some great discordant clanging moments.
The DVD is an Anchor Bay package and as such has more than just ‘Biography’ and ‘Trailer’ as special features. The documentary ‘Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre’ was a nice introduction to the director whose influence was on a lot more the just Dario Argento (a film expert pojnts out the some of Friday the 13th looks like it was shot on the same set as a Bava film such is the degree it take’s ‘homage’). Contributions from Kim Newman are always welcome and I was glad of the chance to finally see some scenes from ‘Planet of the Vampires’ after usually hearing it in connection to alien.

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