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Image Entertainment presents
Hatchet for the Honeymoon (Rosso segno della follia) (1969)

"My name is John Harrington. I am 30 years old. I am a paranoiac. 'Paranoiac' ...an enchanting word! And so full of possibilities! The fact is, I am completely mad, the realization of which annoyed me at first, but now is amusing to me."
- John Harrington (Stephen Forsyth)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: June 18, 2000

Stars: Stephen Forsyth, Dagmar Lassander
Other Stars: Laura Betti
Director: Mario Bava

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for Violence, brief nudity
Run Time: 01h:28m:30s
Release Date: June 13, 2000
UPC: 014381730722
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-B+D C-

DVD Review

The key to making a film that centers on an antihero is making the audience identify with him, no matter how reprehensible he is. Obviously, the more outside the norm the antihero is, the more difficult the task the director has before him.

Mario Bava succeeds admirably in Hatchet for the Honeymoon. We realize right away that the lead, John Harrington, is completely off his rocker, murdering women on their wedding nights in order to recollect a traumatic event from his childhood. In order to better identify such women, he has established a bridal salon. Apparently it never quite dawns on him that the police might connect the fact that all the victims are outfitted by his shop. But that's okay, because apparently it doesn't occur to the police either.

Yet even though Harrington presents a thoroughly unsympathetic character, Bava with the use of his camera gets us identifying with him quite quickly. Part of this is a technique of using extremely quick MTV-style cuts between POV shots and omniscient viewer shots. Before we know it, we are firmly on Harrinton's side. Once landed, Bava gets us into a brilliant set piece, where the police enter his home and question him, while one of his victims lies on the staircase above, dripping blood down onto the floor behind the investigators. We feel tremendous suspense at whether Harrington will be found out in this, well, compromising position.

The film also features an interesting twist, as the ghost of Harrington's wife haunts him in an unusual way: she is visible to everyone but him! This leads to some bizarre and entertaining episodes. The lengthy notes by Tim Lucas refer to this film as a black comedy; I find that description to be a little generous. There are a few witty moments, such as when Harrington explains the screams that the police heard as coming from the television, which happens to be playing Black Sabbath, a 1963 film directed by Bava himself! These moments notwithstanding, this picture seems to fall more into the genre of thriller.

The film suffers somewhat from a psychological viewpoint that is badly dated. If you can take Hitchcock's Spellbound without cringing, though, it shouldn't bother you. The plot contains a number of holes which the viewer will find himself scratching his head over afterwards, but overall the picture is enjoyable if a bit grim in its subject matter. Unlike much Italian horror, the murders are quite restrained in this film, and occur almost entirely offscreen. We see small amounts of blood on the body, so those looking for extreme gore will definitely be disappointed. Although the snapper case says that the film is not rated, the print is preceded by a blue "GP" rating card.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image quality on this disc is rather variable. The beginning and the reel changes are rather heavily speckled. However, in between reel changes the picture is generally very good. The color is excellent throughout; even the animated opening titles, a vivid red and turquoise, are brilliant without being oversaturated. Blacks are solid and shadow detail is better than average. Bit rates run between 5 and 6 Mbps. Overall, a very attractive image indeed for a low-budget film of this vintage.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Unfortunately, this disc really falls down on the audio. The DD 1.0 mono track ranges between poor and godawful. The opening music under the credits is horribly distorted and difficult to listen to; other music is similarly painful. Dialogue sounds unnatural and ADR-produced, although it is generally clear and easy to understand. There is significant hiss and crackling throughout. This film really needs to have the audio cleaned up; it would make a great deal of difference in the presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: D


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Production Notes
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The extras are few, but those that are present are excellent. We get a lengthy biography of Bava, and a complete filmography (including his credits as cinematographer and script). Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog provides the extensive production notes printed on the trifold snapper case in teeny-tiny print. While there is a tremendous amount of information there, it can be a little hard to read.

However, we don't have a trailer, or subtitles. The chaptering is really inadequate; probably 17 to 20 chapter stops should have been assigned.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Not for every taste. Worth at least a rental for fans of Bava and psychodramas, but with the audio and the lack of extras you will probably want to rent it before you buy it.


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