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Haunted Honeymoon (1986) - Blu-ray Review

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Haunted Honeymoon

...in which the Golden Age of Radio meets the Chiller Comedies of the 1940s.  No wonder Haunted Honeymoon was a box office bomb, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be ignored.  The film, with over-the-top characters and spooky atmospheres, is damn funny.

"It’s “old school” Hollywood through and through"


Written and directed by Gene Wilder (Blazing Saddles) and starring Gilda Radner (Saturday Night Live), Dom DeLuise (The Cannonball Run), Jonathan Pryce (Tomorrow Never Dies), Jim Carter (Mister Carson in Downton Abbey), Bryan Pringle (Brazil), Ann Way (Clockwise, Brazil), and Paul Smith (Popeye, Red Sonja), Haunted Honeymoon is a classic comedy and yet so many critics absolutely HATE this film, railing against its mix of horror and humor.  

And the negativity has dogged the film since its release.  It’s an unfair criticism when you consider that Haunted Honeymoon - mining Gothic cliches for every nugget of comedy - is meant to play like 1939’s The Cat And The Canary, starring Bob Hope.  It’s “old school” Hollywood through and through as it uses chiller devices - like graves, the wolf man, and snakes - and then subverting them with comedic moments as the cast upends the genre.

It’s a mix that, when I first saw the film in 1986, made me laugh then and continues to leave me chuckling, with Pringle, Way, Carter, and DeLuise - who famously (or is that infamously?) portrays Larry Abbot’s Great-Aunt Kate - earning top marks for playing their characters as straight as an arrow.

Co-written by production designer Terence Marsh and filmed in London at Elstree Studios, Haunted Honeymoon is about radio personalities and stars of "Manhattan Mystery Theater" Larry Abbot (Wilder) and Vickie Pearle (Radner) as they announce their engagement.  Suddenly, Larry has issues with his speech and an unexplainable phobia set off by the sound of thunder, interfering with his live performances on the air as he struggles pronouncing the letter “W” and then cackling like a loon.Haunted Honeymoon

The cure to his woes is unconventional, but it has to happen.  He’s to be scared so badly that his speech problem - necessary for anyone in radio - completely disappears, sort of like scaring hiccups away.  That’s the recommendation of Larry’s uncle (Smith), a doctor.  So he and Vickie return to the creepy mansion in Upstate New York where he grew up.  

And wouldn’t you know it, there’s already been someone killed in the castle!  And that body is bound to show up - whether it be in a wine cellar or in an open grave - at some point in the evening.  Along with the hard-of-hearing butler (Pringle) and his wife (Way), he reunites with several (and increasingly bizarre) family members as the dark and rainy night continues to grow increasingly strange, funny, and completely off its rocker.

With unforgettable sequences - the “Ballin’ the Jack” song-and-dance routine, the man who walks on the wall, the wine cellar moment where Wilder acts like someone else’s legs are his own - Haunted Honeymoon is just a fun, goofy time in a pretty spooky old castle.  

Haunted Honeymoon would be the last time we saw Radner on the screen.  She died after the film was released.  It is also the last time Wilder stepped behind the camera to direct.  For anyone who likes Clue or Transylvania 6-5000, this film comes highly recommended.

Haunted Honeymoon, newly remastered in HD, is available on blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

4/5 beers

Haunted Honeymoon

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- September 6, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Newly Re-mastered in HD! What do you get when you combine three of Hollywood's most hysterical talents with a creaky old castle and a werewolf legend? An amiable, kinky blend of hijinks and horror that'll leave you howling with laughter! Gene Wilder (Young Frankenstein), Gilda Radner (Hanky Panky) and Dom DeLuise (Silent Movie) star in this ingenious, amusing horror comedy that’ll put a smile on your face - and keep it there. At the mansion of his great aunt Kate (DeLuise), Larry (Wilder) is undergoing a psychological procedure designed to rid him of his irrational phobias... by frightening them right out of him! But the jolts and frights may turn out to be the least of his problems when Kate names him her sole heir. Suddenly, the entire family seems a little too vigorous in participating in his therapy - leading Larry to believe that one of his jealous kin may be murderous... and that another may be a werewolf. The film’s star Gene Wilder (The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother) co-wrote and directed this hilarious comedy… featuring great performances by Jonathan Pryce (Brazil), Peter Vaughn (Straw Dogs), Paul L. Smith (Midnight Express) and Jim Carter (Downton Abbey).

Video:

The 1080p transfer - with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 - looks damn crisp!  The detail is impressive considering the age of the film.  Colors are bold, bright, and shadows are thick with lines and deep blacks.  The night scenes – and there are a lot of them – are detailed and heavy with edges.  The colors are bold enough to keep the edges clear as Wilder traverses from his bedroom, to the cellar, and out to the evening to be buried alive.  This is some good work from Kino Lorber.  

Audio:

The sound is presented in an engaging DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track.  Cue the thunder!

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Unfortunately, there is only a theatrical trailer included with the release.

  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 1/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3/5 stars

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Haunted Honeymoon

MPAA Rating: PG-13 on appeal for crude sexual content and language.
Runtime:
82 mins
Director
: Gene Wilder
Writer:
Gene Wilder, Terence Marsh
Cast:
Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner, Dom DeLuise
Genre
: Comedy | Horror
Tagline:
...A Comedy Chiller.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Oh, who knows if any of us will ever see the morning?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Orion Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 25, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
Septemer 6, 2016.
Synopsis: What do you get when you combine three of Hollywood's most hysterical talents with a creaky old castle and a werewolf legend? An amiable, kinky blend of hijinks and horror that'll leave you howling with laughter! Gene Wilder (Young Frankenstein), Gilda Radner (Hanky Panky) and Dom DeLuise (Silent Movie) star in this ingenious, amusing horror comedy that'll put a smile on your face - and keep it there.

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Haunted Honeymoon

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