In the world of film, stories of troubled productions, difficult shoots and complex behind the scenes shenanigans are legend. Many films, great and grand have them. Many terrible and toxic ones make masterpieces. From APOCALYPSE NOW to BRAZIL. Or THE WIZARD OF OZ to CLEOPATRA. But even among these however, none can match director Mario Bavas experience here. He is one of cinema’s great unsung heroes. And in the world of Mario Bava, HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON is something of a treat but also a nightmare production, with added fuckery to the mix. Finally released on Blu Ray by the great 88 Films, we can explain why. The story revolves around a serial murderer of woman John Harrington (Stephen Forsyth), who as one of the essays notes, AMERICAN PSYCHO Patrick Bateman rifts off ad nauseum. Harrington is the owner of a fashion label, well he inherited it from his long dead mother. He uses this as cover to kill. While travelling for shows, while working with models and even when he is home alone. In his sights is another victim, model Helen Wood (Dagmar Lassander) but she might have suspicions. His wife Mildred (Laura Betti) also might suspect him or at least feels that his lack of sexual desire is hiding something.

This begins the productions problems. Betti was not in the original cast or even the script. After she reached out to friend (and the films director Bava) to work with him on the project. After winning Best Actress at Venice International Film Festival, how could he decline. This annoyed Lassander, who was set to be the female lead. Her anger was said publicly and privately to everyone. This included Forsyth, who on the other hand was pained by having little to no direction in star role. Then we have the major financing and location issues. Set in Paris, filmed in Spain, with principal in the latter and second unit work in the former, all costing money. Lots of money indeed. All making sense why the film ran out of money. When it did, it was shut down for a period to get more money coming into finish it. Imagine all this conflict playing out on a mansion that was owned by then dictator Franco of Spain. Yep. Add to that Franco’s personal restrictions to Bava. As his reputation had proceeded him, Franco stated, he wanted little blood to be spilled on screen. This is the sort of nightmare, film historians love. Its also well worth listening to Howarth (well actually just as much reading his book on Bava and then listening to this commentary.

For film fans, either Giallo heads or, if you are like me, cineastes who love a film you dig into, this is first class. Bava’s budget limitations fascinate us with his use of technique. He was a director of visual language. Frame, lens, zoom (I hate zoom but both BAVA and ALTMAN make it magnificent). In the audio commentary from Troy Howarth (who does have a habit of info dumping things), he examines Bava techniques and how they are often lifted by other directors, to his detriment. Rightly revealing Bava’s genius. Which turns an average script (but with a fascinating exploration of a sociopath) into something else. Something dexterious. Something delirious. Something delicious. Added to the film is a really good booklet with three essays, a good commentary from Howarth and a 1080p cut of the film.

  • Audio Commentary by Giallo Cinema Export Troy Howarth
  • Meet the Bavas – An Interview with Renowned Director Lamberto Bava
  • Working With A Master – An Interview with Assistant Camerman Gianlorenzo Battaglia
  • Trailer

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