8/3/16

HAUNTED HONEYMOON - REVIEW


Gene Wilder writes, directs and stars in "comedy chiller" Haunted Honeymoon, a homage to old horror-themed radio plays. The film was released in 1986 and was a box-office and critical bomb.

On paper, this movie sounds like a riot: werewolves, a Hercule Poirot-style setup, Dom DeLuise playing an over-the-top character in drag, Gene Wilder, the whole thing looks like the spiritual successor to Mel Brooks' classic Young Frankenstein. And yet right off the bat there's something not quite right about Haunted Honeymoon. Billing itself as a horror/comedy, it proves to be neither funny nor scary. The plot is initially quite promising as Wilder's radio actor starts randomly acting strange as his shady uncle shows up to suggest scaring him to death in order to cure him. He then shows up with his fiancée (played by Gilda Radner) at the creepy mansion where he grew up for his wedding and we're introduced to various bizarre characters. Unfortunately, from then on, the story gets needlessly convoluted and becomes frankly hard to follow.

It feels like there are five plots to different movies going on at the same time but none of them is fully explored. There's a werewolf theme yet it's not a werewolf story, more than half of the characters prove to be completely pointless, a lot happens and yet nothing actually happens, there are countless promising build-ups for jokes but they never deliver, there are songs but it's not a musical and the twist ending(s) don't make any sense. It's almost as if the first draft of the script was used before punchlines could be added to it which is a shame because the film had everything it needed to be a really fun spoof. Even the worst Mel Brooks comedy includes at least one funny bit but here, we have to settle for Dom DeLuise hamming it up and a couple of retreads of the dead body joke from Young Frankenstein.

Haunted Honeymoon is one of those rare comedies that sounds amazing yet manages to get everything completely wrong. Packed with lots of talent, great setups and appealing visuals, one wishes it had picked a genre and ran with it rather than attempt all of them without focus.

For an example of a similar idea done right try Murder By Death or Clue, or even High Spirits.

Surprisingly disappointing.

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