|Laura Betti and Stephen Forsyth|
HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (aka Il rosso segno della follia/1970). Director: Mario Bava.
"Another bride dead. How sad. But fortunately she paid for her wedding dress." -- John Harrington
John Harrington (Stephen Forsyth) heads a bridal fashion house and is trapped in a loveless marriage to Mildred (Laura Betti), who refuses to give him a divorce. Harrington is haunted by a woman's voice calling his name, and in his twisted mind feels the only way he can uncover who she is and why she's calling him is to murder brides with a gleaming cleaver. As he puts it, "a woman should live only to her wedding night, love once, then die." Inspector Russell (Jesus Puente) seems pretty sure Harrington is the guy he's after, but can't prove it, even though he must have left loads of evidence all through his house. Halfway through the movie Hatchet turns into a ghost story [sort of like an EC comic story or something out of the later Night Gallery] as he is haunted by one of his victims, who can be seen by everyone but him except when she wishes him to see her. Bava returns to the fashion house for a horror movie after helming Blood and Black Lace six years earlier, but this time the results are less felicitous. Photographed by Bava, the film often looks good, with his usual adept color schemes, but at times it plays like a travesty. There are some good moments, however, such as when the police arrive right after a murder and Harrington is unnerved to realize a corpse on the stairs is dripping blood, which might be spotted at any second. Laura Betti later appeared in Bava's Bay of Blood/Twitch of the Death Nerve, which is much gorier than this relatively bloodless horror film. Stephen Forsyth was a Canadian actor who appeared in several Italian movies, but left the business after starring in Hatchet. Pretty Dagmar Lassander plays a model named Helen who may or may not be the sister of one of Harrington's victims. The movie is an Italian film that was filmed partly in Spain and appears to take place in France, with the Eiffel Tower clearly seen in one sequence.
Verdict: Not Bava's worst but far from his best. **/2.