Gene Wilder’s Comedy Chiller ‘Haunted Honeymoon’ (1986) 35 Years Later – A Retro Review

What a fun movie to talk about! Haunted Honeymoon was originally released on July 25, 1986, and is celebrating its 35th anniversary this month. The film stars such greats as Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 1971) as Larry, Gilda Radner (SNL) as Larry’s charismatic and blushing bride, Vickie Pearle, and Dom Deluise (Spaceballs 1987) in fabulous drag as Aunt Kate. Cool fact: Dom Deluise won Worst ActRESS at The Razzies for his role, which makes Haunted Honeymoon that much cooler to me.

 

Touted as a comedy, Haunted Honeymoon can actually be quite frightening an intense at times… alongside the hilarity! With an ensemble cast of kooky and spooky characters, including a wolfman killer, a wall walking monster, and a butler that is a cross between Lurch and Riff Raff, this movie was an instant underground cult classic. I remember watching Haunted Honeymoon at quite a young age, and while I loved the visuals, the cast, and the castle setting, there were parts of the movie that really gave me the willies, including the wall walking scene. However, even at a young age, I understood why so many people adored Haunted Honeymoon, and I still recognize why they continue to do so to this day.

Just an eccentric family…

The plot for this comedy chiller follows on-air mystery radio personalities Larry and Pearl, who are engaged to be married. Larry has unfortunately been suffering on air panic attacks recently. A psychiatrist decides that this is simply pre-wedding jitters, and if Larry can just be scared out of his wits, he will be scared straight. The wedding takes place at Larry’s childhood home, which is actually a castle complete with creepy butler and all. Many eccentric family members are there to partake in the festivities, and we do learn that Aunt Kate has gone ahead and changed her will to leave all her assets to Larry. Should he die before she does, the family can split the millions evenly among them.

At the castle, Vickie Pearle and others are partaking in various acts to try and scare the panic out of Larry. There is more going on than meets the eye, and Haunted Honeymoon climaxes at a dramatic midnight showdown at a graveyard. It’s a hilarious, silly, spooky, throwback to 1930s filmmaking. If all honeymoons were this fun, I might rush out to the alter myself!

The official trailer for Haunted Honeymoon:

Haunted Honeymoon is quite unique in how it was shot. Wilder wanted the film to appear like a black and white movie from the ’30s, and he pulled that off quite well. Juxtaposed with the creepy setting and comedic effect, this movie lives up to its credible reputation as a horror classic. The cinematographer chose dark, non-primary colors and low lighting to create this vintage effect.

Released by Orion Pictures and HBO, Haunted Honeymoon was initially met with disappointing box office numbers. However, it has since become a favorite among cult and horror film lovers worldwide. The movie was co-written and directed by Gene Wilder, who had been interested in directing a comedy chiller for years, as they were the movies that he loved best but also terrified him the most as a child.

Wilder was inspired by films like The Cat and the Canary (1939) and radio shows such as The Inner Sanctum when he created Haunted Honeymoon, which had been in the works for at least 10 years in his mind. His love and wife at the time, Gilda Radner, was cast alongside him. Unfortunately, this film would be Radner’s final performance before tragically succumbing to ovarian cancer in 1989.

Gilda and Gene absolutely shine in Haunted Honeymoon which is quite a lovely tribute to their relationship as the inspiration for the film developed throughout their relationship. A movie here, a song there… I believe both were quite proud of Haunted Honeymoon, as they should have been. Wilder passed away in 2016 of complications due to Alzheimer’s disease. Dom DeLuise was a comedic legend in his own right, and passed on in 2009 due to kidney failure.

Haunted Honeymoon: Gene Wilder (in bed), 1986, (c) MGM

 

Happy 35th anniversary to this dramatic, comedy-chiller starring some of the greatest comedians of our time. What a classic! Anniversary year 35 is coral. Coral for blood? I’m not sure, but I know that the stars of this film and the passion and love put into Haunted Honeymoon by them will forever be in our hearts and imaginations as they run wild. Arooooo!

About Lauraplant82

Hi there! I'm a mid-30s, Torontonian, virgo, true-crime obsessed, horror-obsessed, travel-obsessed, ...scrabble-obsessed, stargazing wannabe-novelist. I'd love to meet ya! :D Here is the link to my submission for Pophorrors 'meet the writers' segment: https://pophorror.com/meet-our-writers-laura-plant/

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