Sunday, June 4, 2017

Nightmare Honeymoon (1974)

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Writers: Lawrence Block, S. Lee Pogostin

Composer: Elmer Bernstein

Starring: Dack Rambo, Rebecca Dianna Smith, John Beck, Pat Hingle, Roy Jenson, David Huddleston, Jay Robinson, Dennis Patrick, Jim Boles, Dennis Burkley, Patrick Cranshaw, Angela Clarke, Jack Perkins, Bob Steele, Richard O' Brien, Walter Koenig

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Thank Heavens, It's Only A Movie!

Plot:  A newlywed couple witness a murder.  The two men responsible rape the bride and the groom vows revenge. 

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

The first half hour is fantastic.  They set the picture up beautifully.  The Louisiana locales are beautiful and rich, and we know everything we need to know and get a damn good idea of what's to come.  Then the middle third shows up and drags it all down.  Before the slowdown period, Jill (Smith) is raped while her new husband David (Rambo) is unconscious.  By this point we already know that David spent two years in Vietnam in combat and he's only been back for three days when he marries Jill.  That says to me that once it's revealed she was raped (which she initially lies to David (and the viewer) that the killer just let them go while he was knocked out) then all killing machine hell is going to break loose when David sets his sights on revenge.  But that doesn't happen.  Instead it's a natural (I presume as I'm not familiar with the process rape victims go through) progression for this couple dealing with the aftermath of the crime.  He's pissed and wants revenge and she wants to move on and not tell anyone, including her father or the police.  The second half hour deals with this mostly with the couple discussing their feelings. 

There's a little bit of sleuthing on David's part to find out who these two killer rapists are.  Jill isn't able to tame her husband's desire so she's pretty much along for the ride eventually.  The last act has the main bad guy kidnapping Jill and using her to get to David so he can rape her again but in front of her husband.  I'm sure he's got plans to kill them both when the humiliation is over.  There's a big confrontation and fight and then it's over.  What starts as a textbook example of how to make a revenge exploitation picture ends up being a drama in disguise but then it remembers what it promised early on and tries to make up for it by going back to the exploitation roots and finishing with an action finale.  The middle third drags.  It's fine if the film wants to be a drama but it clearly doesn't from how the first and last half hours play out.  What's missing is that Vietnam experience David has and how he puts that killing skill to use by hunting these pricks down in the swamp or something.  THAT would've been awesome.  Everything else in the film (acting, directing, etc) is very good.  It's just the story's midsection is tonally not what the picture needed or at least what I wanted.  Little did they know that they were making a picture for some bozo to watch on a rainy Saturday night forty something years later.  Goobers.

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