Release Date(s)1986 (September 6, 2016)
Studio(s)Orion Pictures/MGM/20th Century Fox (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: D
Haunted Honeymoon was mostly unappreciated upon its initial release in 1986. Filled with a grab bag of slapstick, sight gags, and dry humor, it failed to capture much in the way of box office or critical success. Often overshadowed by other, more successful comedies, particularly those involving Mel Brooks, it was also the last in a string of movies that Gene Wilder himself directed. Co-starring his then wife Gilda Radner, the film was to be their final pairing, as well as Radner’s last on-screen appearance before she passed away several years later.
Larry Abbot (Gene Wilder) and Vickie Pearle (Gilda Radner) are radio actors whose murder mystery show has made them famous. After falling in love and intending to marry, Larry begins exhibiting odd behavior, including being unnaturally frightened by thunder. Once Larry’s uncle (Paul L. Smith) declares that he will cure Larry of his affliction, the pair take off to to tie the knot in Larry’s childhood home, a creepy old mansion. But the attempts to cure Larry, with the apparent aid of Larry’s brother (Jonathan Pryce) and his great-aunt Kate (Dom DeLuise), backfire when it’s discovered that someone is bumping off members of the family. The only questions are who, and why?
Gene Wilder is, of course, the heart of the movie. He’s his usual self, unhinged at times while deadpan at others. Not all of the comedy lands well, unfortunately, including many of the moments involving Radner. She seems mostly underused here and comes off as more of a generic love interest most of the time, never going over the top in the way that one might expect from her previous work. Even Dom DeLuise is more cuckoo at times than she is. The plot and its outcome are also fairly standard. The film plays out as a murder mystery with a big twist at the end, but it’s all window dressing for the comedy. In many ways, the film hearkens back to a simpler time when acts like Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello were running from monsters in museums and haunted houses. In that regard, Haunted Honeymoon is a little quaint, but charming nonetheless.
Kino Lorber’s presentation doesn’t look like a brand new print of the film, but it has plenty of merit. It’s an organic presentation, but with some uneven grain structures at times. Fine detail is merely good, if a bit uneven, with some scenes being more potent than others. Colors are also good, though never quite popping, and black levels are fairly solid. Although shadow detail is lacking at times, overall brightness and contrast is fairly strong. This is also a clean transfer, with little to no print damage on display, nor are there signs of digital sharpening, edge enhancement, or heavy digital noise removal. Despite the DTS logo on the rear cover, the audio track that’s been included is actually an English 2.0 LPCM mix. Spooky atmospherics and score reign supreme on this track, as does the dialogue reproduction, which is clear and discernable at all times. Sound effects, although a tad dated, have plenty of life to them, and there’s some occasional directionality to listen for as well. Unfortunately, there are no subtitle options and only three theatrical trailers are included as extras: The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, Life Stinks, and one for the movie itself.
While one could conceivably label something like Haunted Honeymoon a guilty pleasure, I don’t believe in that sort of thing. It’s not one of the funniest comedies ever made, but it’s enjoyable for what it is. It helps to have such a great cast, fun set pieces, and a good location to take advantage of. While the extras for this Blu-ray release are definitely lacking, the presentation of the film itself is fairly solid and definitely worth revisiting if you haven’t seen the movie in a while.
- Tim Salmons