By Steve D. Stones
After Italian director Mario Bava created his horror masterpiece in 1960 – Black Sunday, he was never really able to create another horror film equal to the suspenseful elements of that one. Many die-hard Bava fans may disagree with this analysis, but critics over the years have identified Black Sunday as his greatest work. His 1970 film – Hatchet For The Honeymoon, is a study in Bava’s fluid visual style that is a trademark exhibited in many of his films. A rapid zooming in quickly on characters during key scenes is a style Bava continues with in this film.
A young wedding dress designer named John wants to get a divorce from his wife but she refuses to agree on their separation, even though she too is bored with their marriage. In a secret room, the designer keeps mannequins with wedding dresses, and occasionally wears a dress himself. One of his dress models informs him that she cannot work for him any longer because she is getting married. He asks her to stay after work one evening when all the other models have gone home so he can let her choose a wedding dress as a gift. After she chooses a dress and puts it on for him, John murders her in the secret room and burns her body in an incinerator.
For much of the film’s screen time, John murders and hacks up brides on their wedding night. This is likely because of his frustrations in not being able to get a divorce from his wife. In an opening sequence, he kills a couple on their wedding night on a train. The reflection of John’s boyhood image is seen on the door leading to the couple’s train room. Apparently, John witnessed the killing of his mother when he was a boy. This may also have something to do with his murderous tendencies.
John eventually kills his wife while dressed in a wedding veil as the local police try beating down his door. At the time of his wife’s murder, director Bava’s film Black Sabbath is seen playing on a TV set in the couple’s living room. When the police are let into the home, John explains that the screaming the men heard was from a scene playing on the TV set from the film. One of the detectives later discovers that the scene playing on the TV at that moment did not have screaming involved in the scene.
After his wife’s murder, John’s friends are able to see the spirit of his wife sitting next to him at public places, but he is unaware of this. Eventually the police take him away in a police truck, and he is able to see the spirit of his wife in the truck. She mentally tortures him on the way to the police station, driving him to complete insanity.
Actor Stephen Forsyth, who plays the murdering dress designer, looks very similar to another Bava actor – John Phillip Law from Bava’s 1968 film – Danger Diabolik. Despite the title of Hatchet For The Honeymoon, the murder weapon is not a hatchet. A meat cleaver is used to kill victims. Next up was Bava’s 1972 horror feature – Baron of Blood starring the aging Joseph Cotton. See Baron of Blood and Hatchet For The Honeymoon together. Happy viewing!